Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reconstructed (and it feels so good...)

Recently I have had a renewed interest in crafting and sewing. Part of it was successfully constructing the Halloween costumes for me and Miss Thing, and part of it was being in a place again that inspires me and sparks my imagination. I took the plunge recently and bought a new (brand-new!) sewing machine because it was cheap and I thought the tension on mine was shot (turns out it just need a little love and a new needle.) The new one is plastic and very lightweight - I nearly tipped it over trying it out - and it doesn't have the solid sound or feel of my 40 year old Kenmore. It is fast, however, and the tension dials all work, so I guess that is something in its favor. I decided yesterday that its inaugural project needed to be something quick and dirty that I would feel triumphant about. I went with a sweater reconstruction that I have been contemplating for months.

I had forgotten about Sweet Sassafras (her real name is Sarai) for a while. I voraciously followed her when I was addicted to Craftster about two years ago, and I read her blog religiously. Then my computer went dark for a while and I had to reconstruct my bookmarks from memory. She was one of the ones that got lost. I rediscovered her because S. sent me a link to her patterns, and in researching fit and ease of sewing, I stumbled upon her website again. I remembered how much I enjoy her sense of style and her writing, and how much I lovelovelove her reconstructions. One was a recon where she did nothing but improve the fit of a particular cardigan. It reminded me of my own sweater I had been too lazy and uninspired to improve upon. It is the softest, sweetest dove gray cashmere blend - from Fred Meyer. It was boxy and unformed, and had developed a rip at the neckline and lost a few buttons. I followed Sarai's instructions for fitting it.

here it is pinned. you can see its basic non-shape.

Because I am lazy, I did not baste. Instead, I sketched the new seam lines lightly, with a Sharpie because I couldn't find my fabric marker.
I regraded the sleeve, to your left, because it was a weird angle at first.

It was a matter of perhaps three and half minutes of sewing to make it into an article of clothing I would be happy to wear out of the house. I ran up the new seams and mended to neck tear with a little satin stitch. Then I spent about 45 minutes searching for this particular cream colored lace, which I knew I had used TWO WEEKS AGO in the creation of the costumes. I couldn't rest until I found it. When it was finally located, I went about the business of embellishing it.

remember when anthropologie made things that were delicate and feminine and vintage-y? that's what i was shooting for.

In addition to the lace, I added pearl buttons in place of the plain faux-shell ones that were there, and I finally trimmed the neck in the last of this delightful French velvet ribbon in ivory. I couldn't resist adding a tiny bow, even though my first instinct was that is was a bit twee. I might remove it later; right now I like it.

I felt so good about finishing it that I put it on immediately and wore it for the rest of the day. By the end of the night, I was feeling so creative that I broke out some jewelry making supplies and made a necklace, too. I have two more cardigans that could stand a little love, and I have a bag of vintage trims someplace that, in keeping with my philosophy, I am not longer saving for later. Well, not much later, anyway.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Are you hungry?

I had a discussion with La Fabulous the other day about cooking and she expressed again that she thinks she doesn't know how to cook. This is problematic when you are attempting to woo someone via their stomach (not that I have ever done this *cough*.) I decided that it would be a travesty if she - or any of you! - was to perhaps lose a chance at the love of one's life because you were forced to go to IHOP because you couldn't whip together one quick and astonishing meal from things you can buy at the bodega across the street. So: frittata.

You will need: Eggs, about 3 per person. Potatoes. Some veggies - I always use onions, but also like bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini... things you wouldn't hate in an omelet. Sausage, if you are a sausage eater. Cheese, if you feel like it. A touch of cream or milk or half and half or non-vanilla soy milk. Salt and pepper and cayenne if you like; garlic too, powder or minced.
First, get all your veggies ready. Chop them up into bite sized-ish pieces. Slice your potatoes into rounds thinly.

this is the minimalist version - peppers, onions, potatoes

Now choose a pan. I was making a lot of breakfast for a lot of people, and used three Russet potatoes, a whole red pepper and most of a largish onion, so I went with a giant cast iron skillet. When I make this for just me and the boy, I use an 8" square brownie pan and about 1/3 the stuff. Oil the pan generously and put your potatoes in so they form the crust.

Saute any of the fillings that require it - any meat that is raw, like sausage or bacon or the neighbor's awful cat, and any veggies that won't cook thoroughly in the time it takes to bake, like onions or mushrooms or broccoli. This is where I toss the seasonings in: salt and pepper and garlic. Softer veggies or ones that will overcook, like bell peppers and zucchini, don't need this step.

Layer your fillings on top of your potatoes.
just throw it all in. if i put cheese in, it goes on the bottom.

Now your eggs. Crack as many as you need - two or three per person - and add about a teaspoon of dairy (or soy) for each egg you use. Like I said, I was feeding lots, so I used a whole dozen eggs and a 1/4 cup of soy creamer (this was the dairy free version. I found out later it should have been meat-free, too. My bad.) Whisk them all up until they are creamy and light.
Then pour it on the top of your stuff.
this is balanced rather precariously, which was pointed out to me as I almost threw it to the floor in my frenzy to photograph it.

You should have had your oven preheating at this point, but I won't tell if you forgot. 350-ish, and closer to the bottom than the top of the oven is better. It takes about 40 minutes, until it doesn't jiggle when you shake it and the edges are a little browned. If you want cheese and didn't put it in before, it's alright to melt it on the top.

Cut this into wedges and serve it with sourdough toast and plenty of butter and marmalade. Or make muffins. Muffins are always delicious. If you're eating this for dinner, opt for a warm crusty loaf of bread and a light red wine. I prefer the sausage to be chorizo at dinner. Green bell peppers and tomato with the chorizo make it like a Spanish torta. The best thing about this is, there is the potential for lots of prep work to be shared with the person you are out to impress, while standing shoulder to shoulder in your tiny kitchen, talking about your travels and feeding each other bits of cheese. And if the person should turn out to be the sort who eats your scrumptious meal and never returns your phone calls, you can take comfort in the fact that you probably blew less than $15 on dinner, not counting the wine, and that's what you would have spent on take-out.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I started another one because no one is too busy to be pretty

Okay, you guys. I need your help. I just started a new blog (I know. I KNOW.) and it can't happen without you. I have vision, and I need some people to assist me in making it come to pass. Head over to Why Are You Saving That? and read the post, then do it. I want to have lots of pictures of lots of people wearing and using their lovely things. Please? I'm not afraid to beg...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Life gets in the way

I promised you all the wonderful costume creation updates, but it didn't happen. For one thing, as usual, I waited until the eleventh hour to make the darned thing (really the 11:30th hour, if the truth be told) and, as usual, I had a difficult-to-resolve issue with my computer that made it impossible to blog for a couple of weeks. So here I am back again, many many hours after my last post, and Halloween has come and gone without a peep from me on the making of the White Rabbit. It was successful, that much I know, because I got an extra Bingo! card because of it.

Bingo!? you ask? Yes, the New Orleans Bingo! Show, witnessed in full glory on Halloween itself in the city which is perhaps the love of my life. The whole reason I had to have a lightweight packable costume was so it would fit in my suitcase and be comfortable to wear for twelve hours outdoors in the company of 20,000 of my friends at Voodoo Experience. It was brilliant and beautiful and I don't regret for a moment that I forwent the dubious pleasures of the Gourds in order to watch Perry Farrell declare, "Tonight I am a superhero!" Also, I saw Gogol Bordello and the Black Keys and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who are as famous to me as Jane's Addiction, and a whole host of others. And I got to spend my favorite holiday in the company of two people that I couldn't love more if they were related to me by blood. I was deliriously happy that we were all together.

she was so happy to see those gypsy punks!

New Orleans is not a town for everyone. It is brimming with ghosts and legends and glitter and dirt. It is urgent and spooky and difficult like a lover. It is not full of convenience and quirk. It takes a certain darkness of spirit to adore it, and that is trait that my companions and I revel in sharing.

this was hardly even a costume


It was harder to bid the city adieu this time. Each time I visit a new place, I find myself wondering if I could slot myself into the life that is there, if I could make a place for myself in that world. Would this be my grocery store? Would I wash my clothes here? Would I fall in with these marvelous people, become their friend, have dinner parties at their houses? There is never the questioning when I am in New Orleans. I think to myself: this would be the place I would buy milk. This would be the cafe where I ate Sunday morning brunch. My children would go to this school, they would wear these uniforms gladly. These would be my people, my friends, my tribe. And I wait anxiously until the time comes to return.


a certain darkness of spirit, indeed



Friday, October 09, 2009

Jenkies!

Monday outfits used to happen with regularity, but they don't anymore. As a matter of fact, I haven't worn something blog-worthy in long enough that some people (you know who you are) have expressed dismay over the lack of whimsy and quirk that is usually expressed through my sartorial choices. Well, here. It's Friday, and I almost waited until Monday to post this, but I know that I will forget.



I bought this red skirt from Plasticland. It's from Tulle, and it is a light sweater knit in rayon and polyester. I thought it was going to be jersey-ish and bias-cut, but I actually like it better this way. The tee-shirt is from Threadless' 9/9/09 sale (all the shirts on the site were $9) and might be my favorite piece of clothing I've ever owned. In case you can't see it, it is a drawing of a T. Rex on a unicycle wearing a tophat and a clown nose, juggling bowling pins and a lady's leg. I added charcoal knee socks and black ballet flats.


Later I got chilly and pulled on this stripey sweater from Old Navy that I have had for approximately one million years. It makes me look a little like Velma from Scooby Doo. The headband doesn't hurt the resemblance at all. It also seems to add about fifteen pounds to my frame, but that might just be the angle of my arms while I'm taking this picture.

Apologies for my weird faces as usual. I don't know how to do the Myspace coyface thing. I can't only make the please-God-don't-let-me-drop-my-camera-while-taking-a-photo thing.

More Halloween updates soon, my lovelies. Ta until then!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rabbit parts


I have made a little headway in my Halloween costume. As usual, the White E opened its magical portals and I found the basic pieces I needed to create most of my costume.

This is the best picture of the color of these pants, although I think in real life they a lighter cream. They are lightweight corduroy, blousy around the thigh, and I will cut them off just below knee-length to make britches. I plan on embellishing them with some lace and satin ribbons.

Here is the rest of the fabulous I hunted up out of my stash. My vision is a decrepit, fraying-about-the-edges Victorian toy, hence the creams and ivories and taupes in place of the bright whites of the Disneyfied Rabbit.



I like this linen shirt a lot. I like the frocking detail and the tiny Peter Pan collar and miniscule pearly buttons. I think it will be hard to wear a cravat with it, because the collar is so small, but perhaps I will veer from my primary inspiration - the Tenniel illustrations - and wear a ribbon tie instead. I do love the idea of a cravat, though, even if it would be a bit warm.
Finally, the E graced me with a set of rabbit ears. These are being reconstructed as well, as I find them a little bit Playboy the way they are right now. I haven't decided yet whether I want to add elements of the rest of the story to my costume; if so then the ears will be attached to a wee top hat fascinator. If not, then I plan on removing them and attaching them to a headband that is covered in cream satin or velvet, together in a V off to one side. Gratuitously, here are the shoes that I ordered, because I am insane enough to order shoes specifically for a Halloween costume.

So far I have done no actual crafting, but I have lots of inspiration and plenty of materials. I also found in the depths of my stash the prettiest black Bavarian ribbon with hot pink and red roses on it. I think it will be perfect for trimming the dirndl part of Miss Thing's Red Riding Hood costume. If I can convince her that she wants the dress in sky blue instead of red, we'll be in business soon. Otherwise, it may be a slight delay while I figure out fabric options.

The Cap'n has decided he wants to be Thriller Zombie Michael Jackson for the high holiday, so I need to lay hands on a decent makeup kit and maybe on a Jheri-curl wig.

Hopefully the next time I post I will have started on the construction of the vest. I am just awaiting brocade in the mail...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

At long last!

I know that you all only come here for the parts when I talk exhaustively about costuming, sewing and crafting, and that you were sorely disappointed last year when I copped out so hugely. Breathe your sighs of relief, then, because I have determined that I will NOT spend three hours desperately wiring rubber snakes together in an effort to make it seem as though I put effort into my costume choice. NO, this year, my lovelies, I am going to make a costume.

It is not as inspired as years past, but my criteria were different. It needs to be packable, longwearing, lightweight for temperature reasons, and reasonably clever. No sticky makeup, no fussy accessories, nothing I will need to constantly check or fix. This immediately disqualified my best ever costume ideas - the story of the green ribbon, and the gutshot cowgirl - and made my favorite forerunner for this year - a steampunk mermaid - seem unfeasible. I settled on something iconic, easy to put together, and yet challenging enough to make me actually want to work on it. I decided to be the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

The elements are simpler than you are imagining. A vest, some pantaloons, a pocketwatch on a chain, some rabbit ears (fascinator style, natch), and a little pink nose. I am rather pleased with myself. I even have a pattern for a vest that I have been holding onto for years, waiting for the occasion to arise where I might need it.
Also, I might have gone ahead and bought a pocketwatch today. I need one anyway!

HRH is going to be Little Red Riding Hood, which I am also making. I bought a set of red velveteen curtains at a garage sale for $5.00 and threw them in the washing machine not long ago. I hope they survive the trip. They smelled about a thousand years old. IF so, they are going to make a really beautiful, heavy, hopefully warm cape. I want to make a pinafore trimmed with Bavarian ribbon, too, and then she can wear a white shirt and white tights and black shoes and carry a basket.

So now I have a plan, and two patterns and the fabric for one costume. Now to dust off the sewing machine and set to work. I'll post updates - hopefully with pictures, even! - as I make progress.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The reason why

There was a time not so very long ago when I was utterly, entirely convinced that I was fated to be alone for the rest of my life. It had been a long painful, messy end to a long, messy, difficult relationship, and I had had my heart ground to dust and splinters. I wasn't interested in gluing the puzzle pieces of my life back together just to let another man dismantle it again. Unfortunately, I was desperately lonesome and while I knew I was perfectly capable of leading a full and fulfilled life without being in a romantic relationship, I never wanted that. One particularly low moment after a mystifying rejection, I asked La Fab if she thought I would die without ever having sex again. She laughed and said, "Are you planning on offing yourself tomorrow? Do you have a terminal illness you are hesitant to tell us about so as to spare our feelings?" Then she went on to reassure me that she believed I was lovely, intelligent, and attractive, and that I just needed to settle down and wait - something would come along. SomeONE would come along.

I thought I knew the kind of guy I would find, if I were to find anyone at all, and I thought I knew how it would go. He would be smart and verbose and rather cuttingly mean; I would feel sick to my stomach with desire and lose sleep thinking of him. The less I thought he thought of me, the more I would try to make him think of me. He would be thin and intellectual, pretend not to care about the way he looked, but really work very hard to be look so nonchalant. He would know a lot about wine and have a ridiculous dream to visit that bar in Belgium with 2500 types of beer.

Here's what I never thought would happen: that I would decide to amuse myself by flirting with a boy in the audience at a last minute bar gig and end up feeling strangely as though I had met him before. I never anticipated that he would take me up on an offhand offer to visit Sitka and see us play again. I never dreamed he would respond to my awkward overtures to befriend him, that he would email and call, that he would answer my questions and ask ones of his own. The oddest thing happened: I slept better, I felt great. There was no heart-pounding, sweaty-palmed second-guessing. He was first dozens, then hundreds, of miles away, and so having a friendship complicated and clouded by lust was an impossibility. I came to genuinely like and admire him.

Here's what I never thought would happen: that I would decide to chase away my own emptiness by filling it with meaningless encounters and find myself a year later deeply in love with my best friend.



I know everyone who reads this has spent the last year humoring me as I tried to make sense of all of this, and I know it has been a month since the last time I posted anything. The thing is, I used writing all of this stuff down as a way to keep it from swallowing my head, and now I have someone to tell it all to and process it all with, so I don't have to write it down anymore. Also, contentment is neither interesting nor funny. For the time being, it might be sparse around here. You can take it up with Z.if you really, really need to.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I don't want to live on the moon...

I lost a friend this weekend. That makes it seem so melodramatic and huge, but I'd known this guy since the minute he was born. My cat died while I was gone to Haines, and everything seems a little askew.

Chester was the biggest one of the litter, and he stayed that way. Eddie was the wild one (his nickname was Psycho Dangercat), Vinnie was the slow one, and Sadie was the sweet thing adopted by Cap'n J, who was 4 at the time. Chester was big and quiet and a little boring. He didn't crawl in your lap and ask to be petted or move you to tears of laughter walking into the walls or falling off the stairs. He spent most of his time sleeping and eating his own body weight.

Vinnie was given away first, since we meant to keep Sadie. He was smallish and needy, and that appeals to a certain kind of person. They changed his name to Sundance and moved him to Colorado. Eddie's rock and roll attitude destined him for La Fab, who had the best kind of love/hate relationship with him. But Chester was a hard sell. He was a lump of raven black fur without the crazy eyes or endearing chirrup of the others. We kept him, too, because we couldn't risk him being put to sleep. We resigned ourselves to three cats: Emily, who belonged to my ex; Sadie, who belonged to J., and Chester, who belonged only to himself.

He had a feralness that was a little startling in such an inert animal. He would hiss and run at the smallest slight, never batted with sheathed claws and bit to draw blood when he thought he was cornered. All of us bore scars from the wounds he dealt, J. in particular, who will drink for years on the story of the divot in the bridge of his nose. We took to shying away from petting him or trying to pick him up; he took to sleeping in the backs of the closets and under the chairs. He was not a loving cat, except in the dark mornings when I was the only one moving in the house. He would come and join me on the couch while I read my email or the last chapter of my book, pressing himself against my leg and purring so lightly I could mistake it for snoring. If I made a move as if to touch him, he would tense and sometimes even move away. On rare occasions he would tolerate my overtures, and it always felt like a gift when he accepted my affection. I cherished that I was the only one he trusted.

Then Z. came.

It was astonishing to see two kindred spirits meeting. First Chester started coming out of the safety of the closets, and then he started joining us on the bed, and then he started coming when Z. - and only Z. - called his name. He took to curling up on my pillow next to Z. the moment I left the bed in the morning. He liked to be on something that belonged to Z. if he could, it didn't matter what it was: motorcycle jacket with stiff bits and pokey bits or cushy red robe or pile of slick magazines. You broke him, I accused. You took a wild animal and made him into just another housecat. It can't be helped, Z. replied. He likes me. And he was right. Chester loved him.

The worst part about his last hours are not thinking of his pained and terrified cries over the phone, or how he must have felt like his own body was drowning him. The worst part is that I think he came downstairs to find us, to find Z., and we were nowhere. I think he wanted us to make him feel better, to stroke his pain away, and we weren't there. In the end, I feel like we let him down. He had a merciful and dignified death, but I am filled with enormous guilt that I wasn't the one to comfort him and wrap him in a blanket that smelled like me so he wouldn't be lonely and scared.

I have had a few pets die, and it has always been swift and sudden, but I have known none of them so long or come to love none of them so well, and I have always been there before. I loathe the gaping tear in my life where he was. I know he was just a cat, but he was my friend, and I loved him.

I don't have any pictures of him because I am not the type lady who takes photos of her animal companions. The best I can do is to tell you to imagine if Aaron Neville were only two feel tall and covered in sable hair from head to foot, and only deigned to sing for you when it was the dead of night. That bulky build, that wild past, that sweet disposition, that lilting tenor voice - if Aaron Neville were a cat, Chester would have been his body double. Because I don't have any pictures of him, here's Aaron Neville instead:



Bye, buddy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The pinnacle of civilization

This past weekend my band played Homeskillet Fest, which is a four day music event put on by a local record label. We were an odd fit for the festival, which features mostly independent singer-songwriter-y types with lots of blues and folk overtones. Most of the types who attend wouldn't know a hot rod from a hole in the ground and don't even own lipgloss, much less dedicate half a drawer to organizing just various shades of red lipstick. We got a good reception anyhow, and my new favorite quirky band complimented our harmonies. I went to buy their CD and found myself with their LP in hand instead because 1) I am cool enough to own a working turntable, kind of 2) vinyl seems more authentic and DIY and 3) for the same amount of cash as the CD, I got great big HUGE album art and a poster and all the lyrics to all the songs. I am a fan of big.
this does not show the baby blue marbled vinyl, which is the best part.


Upon investigating the fine print of the liner notes (I am also a fan of liner notes), I came upon a name that was vaguely familiar, though I couldn't quite place a finger on it. It wasn't someone I knew personally, it wasn't the friend of a friend or an acquaintance or someone I met sometime... I turned to Z. and asked, "That cat who you gave a ride to New Orleans to... the Craiglist guy? Who was he again?" "A film guy," Z. said. "Yoni Goldstein."

And there it was. Sitka is magical for a lot of reasons, but its most notable trait is that it is a nexus. Sitka is the one degree of separation for so many people; it goes beyond mere coincidence. You hear stories of Sitkans who meet each other on the opposite side of the planet after not having seen each other in two and a half decades; you hear stories of folks who are recognized in the middle of the night in a grocery store in Connecticut by their t-shirts; everyone has a cousin or an aunt or a best friend who lives here, or lived here during the war, or volunteered at Sheldon Jackson when it was still a high school. And here is another such Sitka near-coincidence: my man, on his way to see me in my favorite city, picks up a rideshare in the middle of nowhere to save on gas, who turns out to be friends with this band (from Ann Arbor Michigan, thanks, La Fab) that I become a little enchanted with when I see them live while holding hands with Z. here in our sleepy village. We are never farther than a step away from anyone here. That is just the way I like it best.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Depression chic

this is not a very good shot of this outfit.

I realize that it is only Sunday, and that I just updated yesterday, but here is an outfit for you, as well as another insightful posting. I decided yesterday that if it wasn't raining, I was going to wear this dress, which has a distinct Dust Bowl vibe to it. I had forgotten, though, that the last time I wore it was several summers ago, when it was wickedly hot here in Southeast, and when I was eight months pregnant. Since it was the coolest thing I owned, I clipped the elastic out of the waist in desperation. I set it aside after that steamy August and more or less forgot about it until yesterday. I put it on this morning and it looked kind of like a feedsack pillowcase. I added this handtooled belt, which is way too long for me, and my cowboy boots.

my pose seems urban outfitter-y.

You can't really tell, but I also added my necklace with the bird and the key and tiny milkglass earrings and petal pink lipstick and perfume that smells like crushed flowers. Then I was dressed for a Jenny Lewis concert. Since there wasn't one, I played the following songs on my iPod while I walked next to the harbor on my way to have coffee at my friend A.'s little cafe. While I was there I wrote some letters and ate some pancakes and read a few paragraphs of an Alice Hoffman novel - she is a guilty pleasure - and allowed myself a moment of wistfulness. It's hard to be wistful for long, though, if you are full of buttermilk and blueberries. Those are the words of wisdom I have to offer you. That, and, if you get the chance, dress like you are acting out a song. People complement you on your outfit that way.





Saturday, July 11, 2009

Still no pictures

Here are some things that helped to erase my truly bad attitude today:

1) S. came back from Europe with the prettiest shopping bag I have ever seen, full of marvelous little gifts wrapped in hot pink tissue paper.

2) There were still lots of cherries when I went to Chelan at 11:00 this morning. I ate the whole bag of Rainiers before noon.

3) I was asked today, "Do you ride a longboard?" No, I said, I can barely walk down a flat street without falling over. Trying to ride a skateboard is beyond me. "Oh, well, I saw a woman in a red helmet longboarding the other day, and my first thought was that it must be you. I couldn't think who else it would be." Dude. I am not that awesome, but thank you.

4) My retro styled lemon yellow bathing suit arrived in the mail. I put it on immediately. It makes me feel like a Vargas painting.

5) I am going to make beets at some point today. Sooner rather than later, hopefully.

That's it. All of it. I am better now, really. All I require is a nap, and maybe a really cold beer. Ahhh.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Not to be all maudlin, but...

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to those of you reading this whom I have been neglecting or ignoring lately. I am never very good at the communication thing, and it is the very first thing to go when I am faced with difficulties in my life. The past several weeks have been a bit of an ordeal, forcing me to ask some really hard questions and face some uncomfortable truths, and I had to let something slip away. Unfortunately, that something was the connection I cling to in order to maintain my usual equilibrium. I am sorry. I cherish you and I love you, and I was not deliberately shutting you out. I just only had enough strength to do what needed to be done. Now I'm through it, and maybe things will be sort of back to normal. As normal as things ever are for me, anyway.

Sometimes the Universe gives us gifts, you know? And sometimes She gives us lessons. Occasionally, She hands us a pop quiz in order for us to appreciate what we have before us. I feel like I just came up on one of those quizzes. I have come very close in the past several weeks to ruining something glorious because I am insecure and gun shy. I keep throwing the door wide open so he can walk right out if he wants to: telling him flat out that I was keeping an open mind about what happened when I was out of town, telling him that I thought he didn't want me enough, telling him I am full of jealousy and irrationality. Then I needed him really badly and didn't know how to tell him, and somehow he knew anyway. The Universe handed me a giant platter of humility and told me to choke it down and understand that I have been graced with his love and respect. She is offering the both of us the chance to be better people with each other than we have ever been with anyone else, and it will behoove us not to fuck it up.

So thank you, ell and vee and S.F. and K.D. and Em and H. and Meemah and Roo and the other ones who read this and worry about me and love me and hold me up. The Universe is teaching me again and again and again that love is what keeps this incomprehensible rock spinning in space. Before I learned that lesson with him, I learned it with you, and I am unspeakably grateful for your presence in my life.

And thank you, Z., for standing up and standing next to me and being what I want and need. I can't believe it took something this huge and dramatic to convince me that you are being 100% honest when you tell me that you are in it to win it. I hear you. Finally. Stick around, okay? I have a feeling big things are in store for us.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hey, there, cool people!

Thanks for visiting our sleepy little town. I noticed that you were cool because of your dedication to looking ridiculous and ugly, no matter the circumstance or setting. For example, Mr. Fine Arts Camp assistant instructor, I was struck by your gigantic wire frame aviator glasses that sit crooked on your face and appear to not be prescription - or maybe just not your prescription. Also, I respect the moxie it takes to sport a hairdo that looks as though you cut it lefthanded with safety scissors and styled it by carefully holding your head out of the falling water the last time you showered. Your sweater vest/flannel shirt/slightly too short skinny pants/penny loafers combo is working for me, too. To top it all off, you went the extra mile by growing a leather daddy mustache and then refusing to maintain its integrity by going anywhere near it with a razor for the past three days - possibly since the last time you got the top of your head wet, judging by the hairdo. All in all, I must admire the effort that went into making you look ironic and effortless and INSANE. You realize that you look less rational than the clowning instructor, whose own hair is the color of a traffic cone and who has a rather detailed portrait of Red Skelton tattooed on his person? Okay, just so you know.

Oh, and hi! returning college student! You have grown up so much in the past eight months. I can tell because you are wearing a pillowcase for a dress, and even though it is a shapeless bundle of mushroom colored jersey knit, I can still tell you what color your knickers are, because it is so short that I can see them every time you take a step. Also, I think you may have forgotten that you have come home to a town whose average daily temperature in June is 60 degrees. Maybe you should think about putting on pants or a rainjacket or some socks - although I realize that it wouldn't be practical to wear them with your flipflops, which you are insisting are an appropriate footwear choice for a rainforest in Alaska.

I know I don't have much room to talk, as I have been known to wear leopard print heels with blue jeans, to match my hair dye to my lipstick, and to accessorize with a greasy-haired, leather covered tall drink of water. AT LEAST I BRUSH MY HAIR.

I hope your children mock you when they see pictures of you in your youth. Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I am mostly kind of okay

It's the end of day four of feeling really shitty, and I am pretty much over it. I am exhausted and would like to have some kind of idea when this is all going to be over - or at least taper off to a point where I feel like I am on top of it instead of being swept along with my head barely above water. I want to lean really heavily on the shoulder that is right next to me, and somehow I am still finding myself trying really hard to seem a lot stronger and cooler (in the cucumber sense, not in the jazz way) than I really am. I want people to assume I am capable of handling any kind of crisis that the Universe sees fit to bat my way. By people, I mean of course, boys. All the pertinent women in my life know my fronting is exactly that.

So, what is the lesson in all of this? Don't be afraid to take the comfort that gets offered to you? Patience is a virtue? To everything there is a season? Cupcakes are an anytime food? The lesson, I think is: Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I know you miss me!

Once upon a time I got in a little hot water for not updating this blog as often as some people would like. Then I started updating two and three times a week, and the handful of you who actually give a shit about what I am leaking from my brain were happy to peruse the endless lists of random things and the unnecessary sandwich recipes and my musings on popular culture. All that stuff is still fomenting in there, and I'd like to offer a little mea culpa to those of you who tune in just to be entertained by my weirdness. I have been slacking off of late. I know it, and I know you know it. You want more snark. You want more foibles. You want more letters to Santa Claus and Sofia Coppola (what the hell is she UP to these days, anyhow?!?) You want more Monday outfits. I will try to do better, I swear, but bear with me. I have not been spending hour upon mindless hour lolling about the Interwebz these past several weeks, and more often than not I can find more useful things to do with myself. Or so I like to tell myself, anyway.

I don't have an outfit for you today. Sorry. I can't really remember the last time I dolled up proper-like, and heaven knows it's harder to take ridiculous self-portraits of yourself when you fear the humiliation of someone walking in on you while you are practicing your best Blue Steel. I never considered this might be one of the consequences of having a boy around all the time. I suppose the most logical thing to do would be for me to press him into service as my personal photographer, but that seems oddly vain, and we all know how allergic I am to vanity (you may insert an eyerolling emoticon here, if you wish.)

I don't have any savvy commentary on pop culture or politics right now, either. Nothing is blindingly offending me or sending me into transports of delight lately, and I find it hard to wax eloquent about the middling-to-mediocre. Some of you, I know, would disagree with that, but only because you do not share my obvious good taste.

I don't have any amusing stories about the beginning of tourist season or working in a cafe or dealing with imbeciles for you. It has only been a month since the season started, and I was out of commission for more than a week, so I am still in fairly high spirits, all things considered. Give me until the Fourth of July, and we'll talk.

All in all, this is the most intensely boring and uninformative blog post I have written in a really long time, and it is mostly meant as for me, as a reminder to do this. Just for putting up with me, I have a little reward for you:

There. I hope it make you shake your ass.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Still ...ing, just not blogging about it

I have mostly come to the conclusion that anything I post over on Ing and Ed gets read only by Mr. B and La Fab, which is fine, but ... well. I really like the attention I get posting over here, so I am going to update my own ...ing and ...ed over here, because I like to delude myself that more than just La Fabulous reads this (Hi, Lady L!)

Watching:

Terminator: Salvation
There were blowings-ups. And killer robots. And post-apocalyptic nonsense. And Christian Bale in a Messianic fury. And several inconsistencies which we are supposed to blithely ignore. It was fine. And noisy.



It was nowhere near as bad as I had feared. That is not to say that it was good. It was distinctly JJ Abrams-y. There were a few too many conversations in extreme profile close-up and a few too much cool shit for the sake of being cool. Christopher Pine is too pretty, too young, and not Kirkian enough for my tastes. There was no need for the clumsy and unnecessary love story (hmmm... have I said this before?) But Karl Urban was the epitome of the good doctor, and Zachary Quinto didn't make me want to strangle him. We will ignore the wretched plot holes and the facial tattoos on the Romulans. Also, the occasional stilted lines of dialog and stiff deliveries were easy to dismiss, as that is par for the course with Star Trek. All in all, it was not the worst of the lot. That honor, of course, belongs to Star Trek IV: The Journey Home. Neither is it the best of them - Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country tie for that in my book. It was solid, if blinding, thanks to Abrams' irritating adoration of the lens flare. I will save my gripes about the look of the bridge and the uniforms for someone who wants to tune out my ranting. I will probably watch it again on DVD, if only to point out the glaring discrepancies to my companion, who is not a Trek fan per se, and who is uncaring but patient as the day is long.
thaaaaat's more like it.

Reading:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
I always knew Lizzie Bennett had it in her. Any story is improved with muskets and katanas.

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America
This is an interesting examination of the cultural divide that occurred in post-war America between adults and adolescents, who for the first time were being recognized as something apart from either children or grown-ups. There were the first stirrings of the generational gap that would fully evidence itself by the late 1960's, and the outcry over true crime comics and, shortly thereafter, the newly fledged genre of music called rock and roll, presaged the unrest by more than a decade. Also, there were some cool full-color repros of old horror and true crime comic covers.

Listening:

It might be mere coincidence that Steve Earle released an album of covers of songs written by the late Townes Van Zandt just weeks after Earle's son (and Van Zandt's namesake) Justin Townes Earle released his own sophomore effort. It might just be chance that there are echoes of Van Zandt's yearning outlaw country voice in the younger Earle's writing, which also recalls Hank Williams and a pinch of Bob Wills. It might be happenstance that both these albums were recommended to me in roundabout ways - one through an independent online music subscription service, the other the daily sale offering from a huge online music merchant. But all of a sudden, I am listening to a lot of serious country and western music written earnestly and unironically, and I am loving every minute of it. Sometimes there is an honesty in country music that is unparalleled in any other type; the lyrics cut through the bullshit to the heart of the matter in short order. The chorus in this song says what I haven't been able to spit out for the last month and a half:


And my favorite Townes Van Zandt song, which is one I have known all my life, is the rest of what I would say were I less of a coward:


All the rest is just the usual stuff. Go listen to that Justin Townes Earle song again. It's real good.




Sunday, May 17, 2009

You thought I was done talking about it

I'm sure someone thinks this is prom-worthy.

I am not dying, although I wanted to for a few hours. A few days, really. I was too ill to even do so much as watch horrible movies. I was too weak to hold up books. Music was far too noisy. Texas kicked my sorry rock and roll ass. But I looked real pretty while I was there. Not bragging, just saying - I had the impetus to look the way I would everyday if I lived someplace where it mattered. And the time, frankly, since I stayed in my room until a leisurely 2:30 p.m. or so each day.



apparently french fries are sacrilege.

I didn't eat often while I was there, but when I did, I ate a LOT. This gravy overflowed the plate and made a huge mess of the table. Also, the edge of the cup you see was a bucket of iced tea, or nearly so. I think it was a 44 oz receptacle, which is about three times as much as I wanted or needed. And bottomless refills, too. Welcome to Texas indeed.

well, hey, sugar!

There is nothing in this world that captures my attention like a shiny room sized bullet full of frosting. This might be my favorite place in the whole damn city.

That's it, folks. Now you know nearly as much as I do about the city of Austin. Maybe next time I'll see a few more of the sights, and a little less of the inside of a beer can. HA! Funny joke, huh?


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not JUST pictures of bass players

The Queen of Rockabilly still has it, bitches

I know I talked a lot about it when I returned from Viva Las Vegas last year, but I will say again: people in the rockabilly scene are the nicest, most genuine batch of folks you will ever have the good fortune of meeting. Here are some observations about Texas Rockabilly Revival that I made:

1) The musicians who come to these things do it because they, too, really, truly love this music. I shook hands with members of nearly every single band that performed; bass players were happy to chat with me about their set ups, lead guitar guys passed out hugs and autographs; drummers sat at your table and bought you beers. They talked about being on the road and about venues good (thumbs up to the Continental in Houston and Austin both) and bad (the shitty place in Houston in the strip mall without house sound.) They roamed the crowds, and stood behind the security fences, and played while feeling less than 100%, and still posed for pictures at 1:30 in the morning - because they realize that they are lucky to do what they do. They love the music, and the people who love the music.These two boys (Kevin on the bass and Walt ON the bass) can drink their own weight in Jagermeister

2) It is not very hard to make friends. By definition, the folks who show up to events like this have something in common. Aside from mile high hair and coloring books for arms and legs and backs, fans of rockabilly (as shorthand for all the 'billy genres out there, no slight intended) also love: fast cars, old shit, ladies who look like ladies, and people who can DO things, not just talk about doing things. That is how, within ten minutes of shaking their hands, Brandon and Emily took me under their wings and spent the remainder of the weekend driving me from place to place, feeding me, giving me drinks, assuring I was well away from the wrecking pit, and generally making sure I was secure. I can't thank them enough, and I am very, very grateful that we found each other. They are solid, through and through. And my dance card was filled by the fine gentlemen from Atlanta and El Paso, who on respective nights made sure I had a twirl or two on the floor.

3) Bartenders deserve every damn penny they make. This goes without saying, but I want to give a special round of applause to LindZ, who went out of her way to find my lost card, and gave me water when she saw I had had perhaps a beer too many. When I returned on Saturday, she also checked in with a huge bottle of ibuprofen and looked relieved when I asked her for a glass - JUST a glass, thank you, not a bucket - of iced tea.

4) Unlike so many other subcultures I can think of, the ladies who inhabit the world that surrounds the music have no qualms about telling each other how lovely they are. I heard compliments about dresses, hair, shoes, make-up... Mostly I saw women look each other over, and rather than deeming each other lacking in some way, admiring one another and acknowledging it. Rockabilly girls are PRETTY, there is no denying it, and every last one of us tries our hardest to look that way.

5) Unlike so many boys I can think of, the gents who frequent events where these lovelies gather have no qualms about letting their admiration be known. They say it gallantly, like Brandon to Emily when we stepped out at the car show: "Someone has to take your picture today, because you look real pretty in that dress." They say it easily and well-practiced, like Steve saying to me: "You sure are in fine form today, what ever your name is!" (he couldn't remember my name was Stella, not Sylvia.) They say it wheedlingly, like the Gretsch guy to me and Emily as we walked past the booth; "You ladies both look so beautiful! You NEED your picture taken with one of these guitars!" It was a revelation to be around men who were not afraid to tell a women he appreciated the hours of work it took her to turn his head.

The crowds never got ugly, just a little rowdy when the Rev played Ace of Spades for Lemmy, who had to cancel. Even the usual suspects were mostly respectful and subdued. Any hard feelings were soothed with a cold beer. It's weird that a rather small genre of music could restore a good deal of my faith in humanity.

I came home after three days on my own in the big city to a family who was very happy to see me, and a boy who was as well (somewhat to my surprise.) I showed them all how much I loved them by promptly passing out with a fever of 102 and an assful of penicillin first thing the next morning, courtesy of a wicked strep infection I picked up along the way. There is always a price to pay. You know what, though? I met Slim Jim Phantom, and was backstage for the last two songs of Wanda Jackson's set, so it was totally worth it.

Yep, they did. Yep, it was.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Geshundheit

Does anyone else suffer as badly as I do from hayfever? You know how when your pollen allergies kick in, you don't quite believe you are congested and full of mucus, because when you try to blow your nose, nothing comes out, and you really, really want to sneeze, but it feels like the sneeze is trapped in the backside of your sinuses, crawling up behind your frontal lobe, giving you an itchy headache and making a hash of your thinking, and you spend half the day crazy with the idea of sneezing, until you think you might be going insane, and when it finally happens, there is such a feeling of relief that you nearly want to cry - and then the mucus starts and won't stop, like someone turned on a horrible, evil faucet and then the third and fourth and seventeenth sneezes make your eyes water, and you wish you could go back to just chasing it back and forth, because there is no putting the sneeze back?



I feel like I am waiting for the first sneeze to happen, only with the shit that is building up in my head. Not mucus so much as unending questions and demands, and yes, emotions. As long as I keep them safely scratching at the edges of my brain, then I am not in love, I can't get hurt, I'll just take some antihistamine and sleep like the dead for thirteen hours when I can wake up and repeat the process until allergy season is over. But I suppose that that is not how it really works. Eventually I am going to have to let the sneeze come and admit that I really do feel deeply about all this, and admit that heartbreak is inevitable. I am far too realistic - read: cynical - to believe for a second that the things I want so desperately will come to pass, to believe that he feels a tenth the way for me that I feel for him. Even if there is a chance that I could be wrong, and that the truth is that some of what I wanted has already happened. He must care for me at least a little, or he wouldn't be sitting around eating my tomato soup and washing my supper dishes.

So here he is, right in front of me, right next to me, and I still haven't said the word out loud. I keep rubbing my nose, hoping to keep this explosion contained, and he thinks the reason my voice is hoarse and quiet is because I have a burgeoning spring cold, or that I am allergic to the nascent flowers and buds. I will do nothing to disabuse him of this notion. Maybe it really is just a cold. Maybe I really am just under the weather. Maybe I can find a way to just sleepwalk my way through until this comes to a close, and blame my red eyes and sad countenance on the Benadryl hangover.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm hardly what I'd call HOPELESS.

Quit giving me that look. I'm still just as cynical as ever.



Live with it.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

It's hereditary


You know how I really knew it was over with my ex-husband? When we were melting down, and I was always teetering on the precipice of irrationality, I tried to maintain a little equilibrium. I did this in a lot of ways. I wrote some poetry, I took some long walks, and I listened to a LOT of music. Of course I did. I listened to a lot of angry music very loud. One day I was blasting the Replacements' Tim while curled in the fetal position in the armchair in our living room, wondering how I would breathe my way through another day, and my ex walked into the house after a long day of work, walked straight to the stereo, and turned it down. Not a word of explanation, not a greeting in my direction, not a glance to ensure he had my permission to do so. He just turned my music down. I knew at that point that there was no going back. No amount of compromise or therapy or mutual respect could take someone who used Air Supply as the background music to our first makeout session and make him into the sort of person who understood that Bastards of Young was the only thing that was going to make me see the light of morning. You can't fight destiny.

I mention this rather sorrowful episode because Cap'n J. has chosen to put himself - and his sidekick, Miss Thing - to sleep tonight to the soothing sounds of the Ramones. He has watched Rock and Roll High School three times in two days, and when I sent him to shower this morning he was screaming about Sheena at the top of his lungs. He doesn't love them for their leather jackets or their virulently theatrical anti-theatricality. He loves them because they WRECK. He loves them because all kids are rock and roll through and through - they are noisy, don't recognize boundaries, revel in the fantastic, are sensualists in the best sense of the word. Kids are made to pogo and slam dance. Their whole existence is the altered state of reality that later in life the more reckless will try to recreate with substances. Their pulses are stronger and brighter.

You know those people who get wrist tattoos that are mantras? They read things like: Faith. or Breathe. I met a guy last weekend whose wrist read ROCK. I'm never going to counsel my children to have faith; we all lose it, and no one can TELL you how to find it. You have to discover it on your own. And I'm never going to remind them to breathe. Their autonomic nervous systems should take care of that nicely for them. But if there are two lessons I hope my kids learn from me before I set them loose in the wilds of adulthood, they are: 1) Don't be an asshole and 2) ROCK. There will come a time in their lives when they are going to want to play their music loud, and some poor sucker is gonna try to turn it down. I want them to understand that the only proper response is to turn that shit back up again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I do not have a Monday outfit for you, for several reasons. The first of these is: today is Wednesday. And the second of these is: no one wants to see pictures of me in ugly sweatpants and a filthy, decade old t-shirt, my hair 24 hours unbrushed, which is how I looked for all of Monday.

Instead I have for you the picture of the ridiculousness that was me on Saturday morning. See, I had gone out on Friday night, already all high on self-pity and indignation. I forced E. to take me out to the Pour House, which was having some kind of herring season/spring break promotional event involving Jagermeister schwag, pretty girls in tippy heels and scandalously short skirts (you know they were short if I thought so) whipping Jello shots like softballs across the bar, and challenges from random strangers that ended with: "YOU'RE the one I want to do a body shot off of!" In other words, not the sort of scene I normally enjoy. I like to drink my whiskey in PEACE, thank you. The upshot of it all was, I declined the body shot from the itinerant herring tender, I split a Jello shot that tasted of cough syrup with E., who was actually still coughing, and I scored some WICKED SWEET giveaways. On top of this, I had been making rather cruel comments earlier in the day about Supersoakers full of Jager and the type of person who enjoys them... so I was forced by my own conscience to wear this in penance:

I am pretty sure spring break does not coincide with Sturgis. Also, these are the Rock of Love scandalpants.

So then the rest of the weekend happened, and if you are reading this, you probably already know that the rest of the weekend was the shittiest 36 hours of the last three or four years for me. All the studded leather jackets and bitchface in the world couldn't keep me from the melancholy that beset me.

So, for the second time in a mere six months, I impulsively laid my money down to flee. The first time I was flying straight into someone's arms; this time I will probably have to shop around a little bit. We'll see what charms Texas Rockabilly Revival holds; I am going this one alone, and so will most likely spend my time pressed up against a monitor, making eyes at a guitarist who is busy making eyes at the 24-year old with the cut-off halter top and tattoos across her boobs. At least I will get to watch Jimbo slap his stuff again, and see the Queen of Rockabilly before she kicks off this mortal coil. I won't say that there isn't a curious weight in my chest when I think about how the one person I would dearly, dearly enjoy sharing this with can't even bring himself to look at my Facebook page, but that is neither here nor there. Rock and roll will burn the sadness right out of you.

Speaking of impulsive... um. Turns out the day H. shows up with her locks shorn into a delightful yet manageable bob is the day I ferret out a 2 year old bottle of peroxide and go all Patricia Day on my bangs:

I am only wearing half my makeup, and half my clothes. I guess it's good this is a headshot.

I went a little overboard, maybe. But I needed to do something in order to crowd out the running monologue in my head, the one that says things like this.

I am not making any outfits for RAB Revival, by the way. I am just taking those scandalpants and that Jager shirt. And the highest pair of Hey, Sailor! stiletto heels I own. Maybe the red ones.

Monday, March 23, 2009

For what it's worth


Dear Z,

I don't know that you will read this; you have done a very thorough job excising me from your life, and I can't imagine that you would go subjecting yourself to a big ol' dose of my own self-aware self-promotion. On the other hand, we got pretty close, didn't we? and there was a lot of stuff I wrote on here that was more or less intended expressly for you. You always knew that. You are a smart man; I know you sussed out what was yours and yours alone. Which is why I can see that the last thing I posted could have felt like a kick in the gut.

I didn't intend for it to. I didn't intend anything by it, really, except blowing off steam the way I am most familiar with - by letting other, more talented artists (well, with the exception of the Sex Pistols, but in my defense, that's an Iggy Pop song) do my talking for me. I was so ANGRY - not at you, at myself, at my own emotions - and I was so tired of nurturing this thing, this pygmy mouse lemur, this incredibly vulnerable porcelain shell of love. I wanted nothing more than to grind the damn thing under my heel, to snap its spine and leave its bloodied carcass for the vultures, and go on being the cynical, jaded, lemur-murdering bitch I apparently long to be. I was exhausting myself waiting for someone to take it from me, and I was ready to take matters into my own hands, perhaps to drive my destiny myself for a little while.

You misconstrued my meaning, and maybe the time was ripe for that to happen - you certainly didn't flush the last seven months down the toilet over how a blog post got tagged - you ended up tagged as stupid boys more than once, remember? But I do feel bad knowing that it was the straw that brought the damned camel to its knees.

For what it's worth, the playlist from last Friday contains songs I hardly ever listen to. I have played it through, in its entirety as it exists on this blog, only twice now. I am putting up another little list for you to listen to, and I will tell you this: these are the songs I have been listening to over and over again since last fall. They are a much bigger part of the story of you and me.

Finally, I am just telling everyone (you know you are not the only one reading this) that primates are remarkably fucking resilient creatures, and they do not take kindly to mistreatment. Stupid zombie lemurs.

love,
-stella

Friday, March 20, 2009

Songs to strangle a lemur by

I said it was not going to be a tiresome fashion blog. I said nothing about it being a tiresome playlist blog.

I am tired of my lemur biting the hand that feeds it, so here is a sing-a-long while I cheerfully choke the breath out of this little fucker.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I promise this won't turn into a tiresome fashion blog.

I do have today's Monday outfit for you, as well as last Saturday's as well. The first of last Saturday's outfits, anyway. You know that by the time I left my house for a rendezvous with the blues, I was tarted up like a Rock of Love reject. (until I changed my scandalous pants, anyway)
Monday
I like that I look like I ought to be standing on the yellow line in the middle of a stretch of deserted highway, so I can rip off my neckscarf and flag the draggers into action.

Saturday
I think this is what Amelie wore when she was moonlighting in a wartime cabaret.

I always have that weird up and to the left headtilt because I have just been looking down at the camera screen to make sure the shot is decent. Mostly it is not, and I take several just to make sure you can see some or all of the details.

Here are a few of my most favoritest songs about cars, in honor of today's outfit. You will note these are, well. You know. Rockabilly, mostly.



Vroom.