Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Oh I miss writing.  Here I find myself awake while everything else in the house, excepting crickets & spiders, sleeps peacefully but my mind is good-and-buzzing and for the first time in a long time I want to tap something, probably innocuous & forgettable, out on these keys.

My dad used to say that blogging is good for one's mental health--- I haven't been mentally healthy for a while, then, but I've found myself blogging/journaling in my head for the last year or so. I note to myself in the prettiest words I can dig up the unusual energy of a shopping center parking lot during a momentary power-outage: You almost don't notice, stepping out into the warm mistyness of a September night, that something is amiss --owing, perhaps, to the generator-powered backup lights glowing from the store windows-- but as you step into a darker spot in the pavement and see only the outlines of the hundred parked vehicles, shrubbery, & fellow shoppers as they move with an almost electric anxiousness & excitement, it hits you. It's scary at first, and then that feeling kind of settles over everyone, the one you have when the lights go out at home, "Where's the candles? It's game night." Groups of talkers giggle and huddle closer, encircling some imaginary campfire between Barnes & Noble and Bed, Bath, & Beyond; Skateboarders, barely pushing 13, swish by with a bat-like, sonar-directed trajectory, because the shadows make everything more fun, and I tighten my grip on Eric's arm, not out of fear, but because these heels that looked good at the beginning of the evening now threaten to topple me, and it feels good to know someone's good and steady, no matter how dark it gets.

I have a lot of these little inner musings in retail situations, actually. Gloria Gaynor was belting out "I Will Survive" in Marshall's the other day-- Nice of her to oblige us all as we sorted, through the clearance rack first, of course. Evenly spaced strangers all trying to find something that would look nice, not break the bank, go with that sequined blazer that was, in hindsight, probably a mistake. It was by second verse that I noticed the first backup singer... down the rack in XL, then another a little more brave up in S, and a voice across the way by the pants (size not noted) joined in by the chorus, which seemed oddly well-recieved by every other, quieter, woman in the store. Everyone wants to be brave enough to tell that --whoever-- that they're pretty strong and won't take any guff and want to be pretty much loved. And if one happens to find a knockout sweater that Ralph Lauren wasn't able to sell last season, so much the better.

That's it for now. I'm probably going to slip back into the ether for a long old time, but I had to stretch my brain tonight.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Between the Lines

My job for the past six or so months, between designing signs/menus/print-ads/billboards/etc. has been to go through PDFs of an 18th century New Hampshire Gazette: I choose the best issue from each year, retype the entire issue, and re-assemble the stories and ads into a fascimile edition which is then printed en masse and sold to the general public.

When the task was first set before me, I felt like I'd be wading through it like a delinquent student through summer school, and tackled the workload with about the same level of enthusiasm: Yet, somewhere along the way, I became a fangirl of William Pitt, First Earl of Chatham; an consumer searching the merchant's ads for "silk damasks," "Barcelona handkerchiefs," and - of course - "West India Rum;" I'm ashamed to say I even recognize a name or two every time the proprietor's clerk or treasurer of a township posts the list of fellows whose 'rights of land will be exposed to sale' if they don't pay up (hey! public accountability... what an idea!) --- some of those guys are always late; There were three Ebenezer Dexters living in Shrewsbury in 1771.

It is, of course, fascinating to read about major historical events taking place at the time: The war between the Turks and the Russians, the Boston Tea Party, Battle of Lexington and Concord, and the death of Louis XV have all passed by in the issues I have worked on, but what captivates me most is the living, breathing stories of anything-but-mundane everyday life at the time. There is no "Lifestyle" section in these newspapers, matters of living and dying are all wrapped up together. One column carries news from London of law made and wars waged, the next mentions the disturbing spontaneous combustion of a distinguished noblewoman, and yet another is a clever poem posted by an author with an even more clever - and applicable - Latin pen-name.

I'll cease my gushing now, and just let a few of my favorite snippets speak for themselves:
( So as to avoid confusion, 18th C. "s"s look like "f"s ...unless they're at the end of the word or capitalized. Good luck!)

William Pitt on the injustice of British troops in Boston


I guess this would be the equivalent of celebrity gossip?


I read this one out loud to whoever would stop by my desk for two minutes at a time.
It's a total gem.


A true Christian. You don't see many of these around.

And finally.
The Conundrum.
This advertisement appeared the issue after a tar-and-feathering was reported. Notice the prominence of "Feathers"?
Having studied several years of issues, I hadn't yet seen this particular product advertised so prominently.
Was Jacob Sheafe:
(A). Just coincidentally advertising a product?
(B) Issuing a silent warning to any Tories who might cross his path?
(C) Just a man very aware of the times? Supply and demand, after all.

Your thoughts are appreciated.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Somehow, after work today, I found myself perusing a whole string of fashion blogs--for what seems like hours. I'd like to say that I was simply observing to gain an objective perspective on the current state of the insanity they call couture. But, frankly, I'm a red-blooded, nineteen year-old female who - despite her attempts at fighting consumerism- often caves. The temptation to be current is a strong one, blended with my natural interest in all things design. I may also have a morbid fascination with watching the distorted figures who've purposely become nothing more than clothes-hangers. I used to sneak Vogue until I realized it was turning me into a monster who hated her own legs.
Mark Twain wrote two short stories entitled (though I paraphrase, I believe the actual titles are longer) "Adam's Diary" and "Eve's Diary." Adam's journal is comprised mostly of the things he accomplished in any given day, straight-forward and utilitarian. Eve spends five pages in raptures over the sight of a waterfall. Girls are total suckers for pretty things; it seems to be hardwired into our DNA. I don't think I was a particularly girly-girl, but I have fond memories of dress-up, tea sets, dollhouses, and a slew of other fluff. Now, Eric and I are renting a house on the farm and my first thought in reference to it had something to do with paint and throw pillows.
I don't mean to say that the impulse to decorate oneself and one's home is an evil one, just the action of following that impulse to its extreme end. Humans in general are more than willing to have anything and everything sold to them, but girls are the much easier targets for the splashy ad campaigns these marketing geniuses throw at them. The fashion industry would have us believe that clothes, and the money we spend on them, make or break us. Pantene and Garnier Fructis bombard us with images of all the variety we can have and still be beautiful: Blonde, straight, shiny. Brown, straight, shiny. Red, straight shiny. Did I miss anything?
This is nothing new. We see (and seem to have always seen) ourselves as human cupcakes, to wear whatever sprinkles are in style and squish ourselves into various shapes a la mode. And why do we do it? Certainly not for the men around us, speaking from experience, I know my husband would be content if I never changed the contents of my closet and wore my hair down everyday. No, we do it for each other. We do it to one-up our fellow females. Pretty is not enough, we all strive for prettier and prettiest.

Now let me bombard you.

Do we wear the styles or do they run all over us?

Question time.
(Answer any or all or just tell me what you think of this whole subject, in the minutest detail)
  1. What is the difference, if any, between being beautiful and being fashionable?
  2. Is the concept of couture useful or destructive?
  3. Why do you wear the clothes you do? Are they for function or to make a statement?
  4. When does decoration of oneself or one's belongings become vanity?
  5. How do you define vanity?

I plan to do a follow-up blog on this one, so some feedback would be beyond awesome.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beard Envy

If I were an old man, I would most certainly want to look like this guy,

I = addicted to The Sartorialist.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Heavy Hearted

I'm depressed, and two things strike me as so supremely screwed up.

1. AshleyMadison.com exists. Every commercial they put out makes me want to weep.


2. My country as a majority doesn't think this is a baby or care enough to protect it.

I don't want to feel better. I don't want to brush it into the corner of my mind. I don't want to stop crying about the millions of ways people destroy their own lives or literally destroy the lives of innocents for whom they've been made responsible.

I long for revival, but I am not on my knees enough praying for it or on my feet enough fighting for it. God help us.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Renewed Interest

...in all things Austen.

Due to the insane snowfall and with nothing else to do, my sister and I spent the last two days obsessively watching all four parts of the BBC's Emma. It aired several months ago in the UK and is now showing here, Sunday nights on PBS, but Lizzy and I -being the rather impatient creatures we are- watched the whole series (four hours!) in low-resolution via Youtube. Let me assure you,
It is amazing.
I've always been an avid Jane Austen fan--stereotypically so, given my status as a formerly-homeschooled female-- so of course I'm excited every time a new installment (in what has become almost a genre of its own) presents itself. With that said, though, there's something about this particular production that may appeal even to the regency-reluctant. The screenplay takes a few liberties with Jane's story that, instead of modernizing or detracting from the plot, actually help an audience that may have never read the book understand some of the complexities of Emma's world (social customs, womens' life in that time, etc. etc.)... all without sounding too trite or obvious for the hardcore Austenites.
In keeping with Austen's incredible understanding of human nature, every attempt is made to flesh-out and delineate characters who, in former renditions, never received more than a passing nod as a plot device or behavioural caricature. Miss Bates, for instance, is not simply written-off as a horrible prattler, but backed up with all of the insecurities and sadness that would explain her quirks; Mrs. Elton- often portrayed as a plain-looking, buzzing annoyance akin to the inconvenience of a housefly- is beautiful, arrogant, and almost devious in her snobbery and ill-will towards Emma; Mr. Knightley's brother confronts life with a largely cynical outlook and dry sense of humor, which combats the insatiable nervousness Isabella, Emma's sister, seems to have inherited from their father. Romola Garai gives the lead character an intense animation and zest for life that self-absorbed Gwyneth Paltrow could never have mustered, and though Johnny Lee Miller's Knightley is, admittedly, neither as dashing nor as humourous as the one I grew up watching, as Lizzy puts it "He grows on your like a wart," which is fitting for a leading-man who *isn't* the leading man until the end of the story.
Overall, I thoroughly recommend it and may even endeavor to make Eric watch it. I never force chick-flicks on him, but it's that good.

In all of Austen's work Emma has always been the character who I most relate to and who makes me most uncomfortable.
My family always accused me of being an Emma, with my annoying need to match-make and unfortunate knack for never being able to hold my tongue. She is probably the most vulnerable and awkward of Jane's leading ladies, unbalanced, with a desire to help people which is always hampered by her own snobbery or impulsiveness. There were multiple times while we watched this when I had to cover my face in shame while my sister looked at me with that "You have SO done that" expression. When I first watched the Gwyneth Paltrow version the comparison was almost flattering, as Emma took on a "practically perfect in every way" sort of persona, whereas this version --which is most true to the book-- just makes me squirm. That brings me to my question,

If you were a literary character (doesn't have to one of Jane Austen's,) who would you be?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why not?

This particular survey is being tossed back and forth on Xanga like a beach-ball, and -unlike most surveys- it's pretty fun, so I thought I'd post it here and see if anyone in my small readership would like to give it a try (It's harder to answer some of the questions than you might think!)

If I were a month, I would be July.

If I were a day of the week, I would be Tuesday.

If I were a time of the day, I would be early evening.

If I were a planet, I would be Uranus, rolling around sideways-- the oddball.

If I were a sea animal, I would be a pink aenenome.

If I were a direction, I would be North-West.

If I were a piece of furniture, I would be a striped chaise longue with peeling brass finish on the legs.

If I were a liquid, I would be olive oil.

If I were a gemstone, I would be the purpley-green version of Topaz.

If I were a tree, I would be an apple tree: Not thin and stately like an Aspen, or old and wise like an Oak-- Unremarkable, but nice to have around.

If I were a tool, I would be a level.

If I were a flower, I would be a yellow Pansy wishing she was a splashy Tiger Lily.

If I were a kind of weather, I would be a freak snowstorm...easily flurried around, but quick to calm down and melt.

If I were a musical instrument, I'd be a harmonica.

If I were a color, I would be navy.

If I were an emotion, I would be argumentative.

If I were a fruit, I would be raspberries.

If I were a sound, I would be the click-clack-clunk sound of an old typewriter.

If I were an element, I would be Helium (He).

If I were a car, I would be a green Jaguar E-Type.

If I were a food, I would be a potato.

If I were a place, I would be an abandoned greenhouse.

If I were a material, I would be cotton.

If I were a taste, I would be a little salty.

If I were a scent, I would be basil.

If I were an animal, I would be a goose.

If I were an object, I would be a picture frame.

If I were a body part, I would be the thumbs.

If I were a facial expression, I would be intrigued.

If I were a pair of shoes, I would be low-top Chuck Taylor Converse.

And, on a side note, though it's not necessarily new (it's been out at least a year or so), I just discovered this cd:
..and I am completely in love. Partly because the "She" is Zooey Deschanel, who I think is utterly amazing, both for her roles (aside from 500 Days of Summer, which was a bit of a letdown) and her incredible sense of style:

Amazing, no?

Anyways, the whole album is perfect. She does a few 50s/60s covers, but all the songs have a very classic feel about them. Five stars.