Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Every thing OLD is NEW again

In this lilac number I could see myself being a bit serious, a bit sassy, and running across a cobblestone street in London for a lunch date with the girls.

I find inspiration in a lot of things. Music people play, poems people write, paintings people paint, movies people make, and most any other form of art. I love watching my sister as a make-up artist--it really is so amazing how versatile each of our faces can be, and what we can convey through the subtle use of color. Recently, I have taken to wearing really red, matte lipstick. I never did this before, never wanted to call attention to a mouth that seems much too small for the fashion of our time, but this past year has seen a lot of change in me, and one of the ways I have marked that change is red lipstick.

There is something so simply beautiful about the lines and waves of this gown. I'd wear it with some gloves (if women still did that) and my hair in a tight chignon.

For me fashion is another outlet in creativity. I have shied away from admitting this to many people because it somehow seems vain to want something really elegant (and therefore, really expensive sometimes) and beautiful and unique and completely artistic to wear. I have found, as I search, that I never seem to love the things that are completely in fashion at the time. For me, right now, my ideal is always found in the vintage pieces that have a bit of history. 

In a world of low-rise jeans and velour track suits with the word "juicy" written on the butt, I really wish we still enjoyed how much a beautiful hat adds to an outfit and helps express your mood. As a sidenote, this model's neck is entirely too long.

I get great pleasure out of browsing these vintage pieces, letting my imagination take me to a time and place where I could wear them and delight in them and pretend they are mine. I started designing outfits when I was young, and sewing a few of these creations without patterns or know how. They may not have turned out exactly as I pictured, but I always felt great pride in wearing something I had made, or put together just so. Something unique, that reflected my style, that made me feel different and special.
This one is the perfect little cocktail dress. Hair up or down, lipstick red or nude, you'll stand out in a crowd of tight fitting and low cut dresses (blech!) in this flowing number.

For some reason, people think you are vain or selfish or have your sights set on things "of this world" if you subscribe to Vogue. When mentioning how much I love fashion to some people, they think it frivolous and wasteful...ridiculous even. I can't tell you how many people have told me that they believe reading such magazines is a waste of time. They would rather be doing some volunteer work, or saving the world from AIDS. I'd like to do both of those things too, but if I could do it in some Dior couture, I'd be happier.
The original bronze color, short skirt, and detailed bodice make me want to wear this dress while out with the girls for drinks and gossip.

When I lived in New York I became a personal assistant to a woman who rivaled Meryl Streep's version of The Devil in The Devil Wears Prada film. No joke. That's a whole other great entry. But during the hard knocks of that job, I found myself dashing back and forth from Versace to Tiffany to Dior to Chanel. I saw what went on behind the scenes, I got to see bits and pieces of fashion before the rest of the world, yes I had to deal with the snobbery of the salesmen as I was in my Gap jeans and t-shirt, but I didn't care about the people on these occasions. I cared about the art. To me the great designers are not something to mock or scorn or say "who would wear that"-- to me, they are artists, expressing themselves and helping us see our bodies and our beauty in different ways.

While I am thankful that the dress and pearl days while baking a la June Cleaver are over. I admit that attending a neighbor's barbeque in this little strawberry delight makes me happy.

If you're curious, one of the best places to browse and let your imagination go wild is The Frock

The layered silver dress is such a thing of supreme beauty that I may have to quit my job and become a full time fashion designer.
The orange one (scroll down to the third dress) would be perfect for the opera, or when I win that Oscar for best screenplay
The wedding gown on this page may be one of the most beautiful things I have EVER seen.

ALSO, my adorable friend Jenn just did her own amazing post on Fashion. I think you should all check it out and give this girl some props!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

New York State of Mind

Sweat. Lots of Sweat.

Stairs. Lots of Stairs.

Sore Muscles.

Laughter. Lots of Laughter.

ABBA. Lots of ABBA.

Agua. Lots of Agua.

This week I spent mostly in Harlem moving Chelle from one walk-up apartment in Harlem to another. In the middle of July. Without much air conditioning. In the middle of July. This might seem like one of the most horrific forms of torture ever put upon a person....but it was actually one of the best weeks I have had all summer. I don't know how to put it all in words, so I will put it in little snippets that stood out in my mind setting this trip apart from the others!

1. On Wednesday Michelle and I saw two Broadway shows. I witnessed history seeing the newly Tony awarded actress, Patti LuPone, sing her heart out in Gypsy (pictured above). Later that night, Miss Flight Attendant herself and I went to see the new play Boeing-Boeing (with the delightful Christine Baranski most recently from Mamma Mia!)

2. No trip is complete without a stop at Magnolia Bakery for the best cupcakes in the WORLD! I am NOT kidding you folks! Michelle and I wandered over to the Sex and the City hot spot that is Carrie Bradshaw's front porch in the series. It's always beautiful to walk along the brownstones of Perry Street in the West Village....perhaps one of my favorite spots in all the city.

3. The very sweet middle aged woman who stopped me on the street and asked if I would sign her petition.
"Well, what's it for?" I inquired.
"It's a petition for equal rights for Vampires."
"Really? Are you a Vampire? Are you being treated unfairly?"
"Yes. Yes."
"What right's don't you have that I enjoy?"
(You know me, I don't like inequality for anyone, I just didn't know there were older women out there who believe they are Vampires AND being unfairly treated for it. So, I googled it, and sure enough, there is an Amendment being pushed by the Vampires (who might really just be suffering from Tuberculosis? The symptoms are very similar, the night sweats, the pasty pale skin...etc.)

4. The young Jewish man who stopped me on the streets of Harlem to ask:
"Are you a Jew?" (um, you guys have seen me right, I look like I just got off the boat from Bavaria!)
"Um, no. But for the right man I'd convert."

5. The other man in Times Square who asked me, "What part of Germany are you from?" (Seriously, a lot of random men asked me a lot of random things on this trip.) I mean, I wasn't wearing the traditional fanny pack and sneakers that set so many Americans apart, but neither was I holding a bratwurst and beer stein in my hand....What ever happened to traditional pick up lines?

6. The evangelist who pointed to the only white girl on the streets of Harlem and yelled, "You there, White Girl, you are a RACIST!!!!!!"

7. Taking in the view from a quiet seat that I discovered years ago and people watching in Union Square Park

8. My quarterly trip to Sephora...which I fully believe is a bit of heaven on earth.

9. Laughing, shopping, singing to Mamma Mia soundtrack, driving through Jersey City, going to a late showing of Batman at the Harlem Movie theater, eating Vegan dumplings, and a million other fun moments I had with my friend Michelle!

10. Hopping on the subway at the same time as a Mariachi band heading for work and having them seriously come and stand around me and serenade me with a song. My face went bright red, but it was one of the most adorable moments of my life.

My life is simply magical.

Hello July

Here's a little poem I composed while sitting by a fire escape in Harlem this week.

Sing the Sing-Song Silence of wind.
Bliss the crisp Willow Snap Sound of heat.
Suck the gushing juices of a Ripe Mango day.
Soak in the sultry, hazy fog of a Harlem Moon.

Peel the woven layers of a too much Cloud in Clothes.
Smack the Fleshy tones of a too Slick, Slip skin.
Dab the Droplets of an Hour in the indie sailed Ship.
Shhh the dragonfly winged thoughts and Kiss Them asleep.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mamma Mia! The Best Fun You'll Have All Summer

So, my friend and I broke the mold and went to see a musical last night when most of America was seeing a man dressed as a bat. We were NOT disappointed! Meryl held up her end of the movie, the girl who played Sophie rocked the "Honey Honey" song so much that you just fell in love with her. Pierce Bronson...who knew he could sing! He got so into it I thought he would burst a blood vessel! And, for all you Pride and Prejudice fans, you get to see Colin Firth in yet another WET white shirt...you know you love it!

So what are you waiting for? You'll be singing along! You'll be dancing in the aisles next to all the gay men who are adoring Colin right along with you (seriously lack of women at the showing I went to last night...but really good company!) You'll want to feather your hair, move to Greece, wear bellbottom pants, and platform boots! That's right....go on, go see it! Mamma Mia it's good!

Friday, July 18, 2008


I have this song on repeat today. Regina Spektor's sultry voice and lyrical lyrics always make me want to listen again and again. I've had a very quiet, reflectful day and this tune fits it perfectly. Plus, the music video is just poetically lovely, like the artist herself

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hildegard of Bingen

“I, flaming Life of the divine substance, flare up above the beauty of the plains, I shine in the waters and blaze in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and with an airy wind, as if by an invisible life which sustains the whole, I arouse all things to life…And so I, the fiery power, lie hidden in these things, and they themselves burn by me, as the breath unceasingly moves the man, like windy flames in a fire…I am Life whole and entire; …all that is living is rooted in me. For Reason is the root and in it blossoms the resounding Word.”
Hildegard of Bingen, 12th Century

It is amazing for me to think that a woman, hundreds of years ago could have felt the way that I feel this very minute, this same second. In my library at home sits a book that not many people know, but I know of it. It depicts the long life of Hildegard of Bingen. She was an Abbess in Germany during much of the 12th century. She was one of the first women to have men admire her intelligence openly. She toured the western world, even managing to get a book published. Know the Way was widely read and accepted in all the great ecclesiastical circles. She was seen as a spiritual visionary who also wrote music and taught new ideas on medicine. I believe she must have known what she was talking about because she lived to be over 70 years old. She was showered with gifts from the many places she traveled, giving sermons to vast congregations of religious men, from the pope, to priests, to abbots, and rabbis. She was alive and light in those dark ages. She felt things deeply. I know she did. She was independent at a time when it would be considered impossible. She never belonged to any man, yet she had great admiration from many men. I want to be like her. She recognized the power that lay within her and she didn’t heed the others.

Ironically, many women of the time looked down on her, saying that only whores traveled about so, but she did not care. She knew who she was and she did so much with such limited opportunities. They mocked Hildegard’s dress, her short-cropped hair (the style for nuns then) and her stout, strong figure. They would mock her so loudly that they would not be able to hear all the good things she had to say. And sadly enough. she received almost more mockery from women than from men. Many men revered her. Am I wrong to look back and even to the future and to think that through the struggle for equality, my sex may have had just as much responsibility for the lack of equality as the sex we accuse of keeping us down? Any ideas as to why men or women have a hard time reaching true equality (I have a lot, but would rather hear yours).

(I am giving experiences from my own religion. I am not meaning to pick on it, but I think that these things aren't uncommon in congregations and religions throughout the world)

Case in point 1: I was in a church meeting last month (Relief Society, where all the women meet together) and the lesson moved to talk about ambition. A girl raised her hand and said, "Well, women just aren't as ambitious as men. It's just not in our natures to be that way. We are just more capable of loving and being nurturing. We don't have the drive to do as much in other areas."

Case in point 2: During a primary lesson the lady teaching was asking the kids what the right age to get married was (already I have a problem with this, because you can't put an age on something like that and she never said IF you get married). One little girl in the back raised her hand and said "Thirty." The lady (who probably married at 18) said, "Oh no! That is WAY too old to get married!! Can anyone think of a better age to get married?" Another kid raised their hand and said "Eighteen?" and the lady said, "Yes, 18." and wrote 18-20 on the board for all the kids to see.

These experiences are endless. And they played a roll in my life. At 17 I wanted to get married and have seven children. I dropped out of my pre-med program because I was sure I was going to get married and I didn't want to start something that I thought I wouldn't be able to finish. I went into education (even though I didn't really feel a huge pull to do it) because I thought it would help me be a good mother (it turns out I love teaching, phew!). Then year after year I thought, whoa, what do I do with myself now? But I finally got kicked in gear at 22 and started making all these dreams I thought couldn't be possible-possible. And that world of possibility only has one open door after another to go through...and that is exciting!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

You Will Be Photographed!

Be it known now that if you visit me I will dress you like a scary Prada model and take your photo well into the night so that I can practice my lighting techniques. For Michelle's full Prada shoot see here.

My Violin Made Me Cry Today....

So, as a poor school teacher who went to NYU and now has considerable student loans (without the promise of ever making big bucks), I've been thinking about how I can get some extra money to pay things down. I thought about slowly selling some things off that I just don't use that much anymore. That way cleaning house at the same time. One of my ideas was to sell my violin. I didn't think I had too many feelings about this. This violin was purchased in full a month after I returned from France. I knew I had to pay for school tuition and everything else, but I also wanted to get something just for me. Growing up I had taken lessons and been in the orchestra (my mom had rented me a violin during the school year from the school) and I really longed to play a musical instrument well (it's a dream of mine to be really musical!).

I came home from France, purchased the violin and even had money set aside for lessons. I was able to take lessons for a whole year and see some amazing progress and I delighted in the gifts of Bach, Mozart and Vivaldi (even the simplified versions that I was playing). Then life happened. I was a poor student. I was working. I had to pay the tuition and bills. I stopped taking lessons, but I would pick it up now and then and enjoy my talent.

Then I started traveling and moving and living like a nomad for the next decade. My violin was lovingly stored in my parent's house this entire time. I'd take it out when I would be home on breaks and play it occasionally, but decided that maybe I had no real time or talent for the violin.

So now, ten years to the date that I bought it, I decided to sell it. I listed it yesterday, very cheaply at $400.00, not even a third of what I paid for it. I got a response. She just stopped by. She started playing it and tears came to my eyes, I forgot how beautiful it sounded. i forgot how much I longed to be good at this. I knew she wanted to buy it, but she wanted me to come down on the price. I told her no, and she left and said she would call her husband, but maybe they could pay what I was asking. She said she would call me tonight.

And now, I am sitting here, looking at my violin and feeling like I just can't let it go. That maybe one day I can afford lessons again. Maybe one day I could help my son or daughter learn this instrument. Maybe one day it will do more than sit in my closet.

Four hundred dollars quickly fades away into nothing right? Is it better to keep struggling while I sit with some beautiful things around me, or is it more responsible to sell these beautiful things and start paying off some debt? Sometimes I just really hate being a grown up.

Yes, my violin. I cried when I actually bought it as it was my first big purchase ever and I was so proud! Now I am feel the pinprick of tears at the thought of selling it. And usually, I pride myself on not crying that much.

Friday, July 11, 2008

"A Mirrored Pool of Thought"

Latest painting. Given as birthday gift. You can see others I've been working on here!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Mosaic of Me

I got this idea from Warrior Girl

I made a meme--this is how the meme works:
Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr search.
Using only the first page, choose an image.
Copy and paste each of the URL’s into the mosaic maker over at FD's image maker.

The questions:
What is your first name?
What is your favorite food? (Mexican--more specifically Cafe Rio Chicken Salad)
What high school did you attend? (Davis High)
What is your favorite color? (The cream color of a wedding gown)
Who is your celebrity crush? (James McAvoy)
Favorite drink? (Water)
Dream vacation? (Greece...since it's my next one!)
Favorite dessert? (Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice cream)
What do you want to be when you grow up? (Photographer)
What do you love most in life? (Love)
One word to describe you. (Natural)
Your Flickr name (it's a French word, but this is one of the things that came up for it, although, in French it means "woods"

It's a poetic portrait without words. I like it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Is Perfection Too Perfect?

(this is a photo of a painting I did a few years ago, it's a take on Vermeer..who I always thought was the best of perfectionists!)

What is your idea of perfection? Does it deal with what you look like? Does it reflect your home? Does it reflect being like Jesus? Is it measured by the number of kids you have? Is it measured by the number of kids you have that stay active in your religion? Is it measured by how often you can check things off your list? (Took cookies to new neighbor--check. Made sure my kids said all their prayers tonight--check. Made sure that my husband’s suit was pressed for church--check. Made sure I had the house clean when people stopped by--check. Made sure I didn't eat that second piece of pie so I can look attractive--double check.)

Growing up Christian I was always taught that I should strive to be perfect like Jesus. That I should love others, serve others, sacrifice my time and energy for others, follow a set pattern of keeping the ten commandments and setting my sights on a future where my greatest value would lie in being a good wife and mother (one who DID NOT work outside of the home...because that would cause failure INSIDE the home).

These teachings honestly helped me live a good life. I am so grateful for the integrity that I was taught to live by. I am grateful that I gave to charities, that I helped old widows, that I befriend the friendless, that I kept the Sabbath day holy.

These are things I want to continue to do in my life, no matter if I ever enter church doors again, because I believe they do make the world better. What you put out in love and kindness is sure to be returned to you.

But, it's the idea of PERFECTION that has taken its toll. Growing up I was preached an idea of being perfect: One person I needed to be like—Jesus Christ. One place we all needed to end up--Heaven. One way to get there--the straight and narrow path. One way to be--perfect.

This concentration on perfection went awry in me, as I have seen it do in others. By concentrating on this one perfect version of myself, all I saw were my magnified IMPERFECTIONS.

But what is this definition of perfection? If we are ALL different, then how can one idea of perfection satisfy each person? Does God want us to all be clones of each other (of course, you are all going to emphatically shout NO, D'ARCY--of course NOT! But really then, what is this perfect ideal that we humans seem to seek, or believe in, or follow?)

Perfection is a comparative term. Perfect with respect to what? And what would perfection be like? If it’s the same formula for all, then once reached, wouldn’t it be a state beyond which there is no place to go. It would be a static position. No growth. No change. Is this something anyone, including God would want? I don’t think so. It would be sterile and lifeless.

I don’t know if I believe in the idea of perfection anymore.

But if I did, to me, the idea of perfection would be transformed into a principal of constant and eternal struggle, change, progress, and growth. To be perfect is not to reach some final static state but to engage in the infinite struggles and possibilities of life.

The world and ourselves, as they are, are not to be rejected as imperfect. The world and ourselves are as they should be, a living dynamic process for the eternal creation of love, beauty, and meaning.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Birthday Blog!!

That's right, look at the little blog, she is all grown up! It was almost one year ago that I posted my very first post.

The Fourth of July, a time for fireworks, popsicles, potato salad, beautiful sunsets, and family traditions. It's always been one of the best holidays to spend at home. My parents have the perfect yard to see fireworks from 6 different locations (the best one featured in the above photo), the grandkids are growing and their excitement is catching!
( For clean photos of this little one, see the photo blog) Anna and I just ate red popsicles and were showing each other our tongues. She's learned all her features and loves to point them out and talk about them!
The evening of the fourth always starts with a beautiful orange sunset that I take in with delight each year.
It always changes from orange to gold.
And ends with gold to pink to purple. Each one is different, but each one makes me feel the same.
Riley is the Martha Stewart of the family and always has decorations to spare for each occasion.
The two cousins telling secrets and sharing giggles.
When the pack of fireworks is bigger than the children, you know it's gonna be a good time!!
Thank you to all of you who have made blogging so entertaining, thought provoking, and wonderful!! Here's to another great year!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Room of One's Own

'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction'

Virginia Woolf's extended essay, "A Room of One's Own" had it's effect on me as a college student deciding to make a life out of studying and writing literature, and I reread it every few years. I love her passion, I admire her strength, I want to emulate her talent, and I took to heart several of her ideas on womanhood, which were quite innovative (as so many women writers were) for her time. If I could have the deepest desires of my heart, it wouldn't be to be the teacher I am (which I adore), it would be to be a full-time writer and artist...something I am hoping to make happen in the next decade.

I've always shied away from thinking too much about marriage now that I am older. When you are 20, you don't worry about all the things you would worry about at 30. I don't know how I would feel marrying someone, letting someone support me if I decide to stay home and have children, giving up my own salary, and adjusting to all the things it takes to become partners. Thoughts of this terrify me, as I think, what if it doesn't work out, what if I am left without anything? What if I spend 20 years raising children and putting my career on hold and then we divorce and I am left with starting all over again? What it, what if, what if.....did any of you feel that way when getting married or committing to a partnership? How did you adjust? How did you handle it? Did you keep working, do you have a separate bank accounts (is that blasphemy?) (My real question is do you have to justify every beautiful pair of shoes you buy with your husband's money?)

In another life I would have been an interior designer...with a Southern accent and spent my days decorating homes and making them beautiful for the families that would be living in them. I think that a person should find their home the most beautiful and peaceful and romantic and enjoyable place on earth, no matter what they own. I have always delighted in creating elegant and chic homes for myself, whether it be my first tiny one bedroom apartment in Florida that I decorated with vintage flea market finds, or my airy room in Harlem with long white billowing curtains on the windows, or my attic bedroom in France where I would treat myself to fresh flowers often, and recently my new home here in Salt Lake that has such a homey feel to it.

I've spent many a wistful hour imagining a house full of children's laughter, and a husband's strong presence, and the chaos that comes from being the mother of a family. But, in that setting, there was always one room, just for me. It would have large floor to ceiling windows so that I could have the sunlight to tell me the true colors of my paint. It would have beautiful built in bookshelves where all my books could be housed in one place (not in drawers, and stacked on floors, and shoved in nightstands, and piled on end tables like right now).
When I look through catalogs I continually tear out pages that feature aspects that I love and I have them all in a folder that I will one day put into action to create this room. I love the light colors with rich accents, the softness and elegance of it all.
I am not one to make crafty things out of wood blocks or hang wreaths with hay sticking out of them on my walls. I love decorating with beautifully framed original photos.
As Woolf makes clear...three conditions are mandatory for a woman to become the writer she was meant to be: leisure time, privacy, and financial independence.

"Life for both sexes—and I look at them, shouldering their way along the pavement—is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion that we are, it calls for confidence in oneself." Virginia Woolf