Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Image from SheKnows

One year ago today I took the plunge and entered the blogosphere. Unlike many of my future posts my initial foray was succinct and is still fairly accurate. Unfortunately, I hit the blip of being laid off shortly thereafter and got a bit angry (I’d forgotten how angry but that’s part of the healing process, right?). I also turned 50 this summer which has opened up an entire new line of thoughts and writing. Beyond that I’ve pretty much followed my opening credo- if it’s in my head it will end up here at some point.

There’s been the whole learning curve of what to post and when to post and how it feels when there are no comments or worse, when you lose followers. I lost two in one day after my Steve Jobs post which had me stymied. I understand the concept of writing for yourself but at some level I’d like validation as well. The knowledge that something I wrote, whether serious or silly, connected or resonated with someone else out there. Otherwise, it feels a bit like the Alien trailer “In Space No One Can Hear You Scream”. If it’s an empty void why bother?

Philosophical musings aside here are a few of my favorite reasons for blogging:


Will and Kate’s wedding, one of the few times I was happy to be unemployed because it meant I stayed up for the whole event and was fortunate enough to find that my funny bitchy friend Bridget in Seattle was awake as well and we chatted on FB the entire time. It was marvelous fun. No one escaped our sharp eyes (no hat, Prime Minister’s wife? Really?)

I met Sue, the Tweed Librarian, at a professional library organization. We had chatted briefly at events until the day she showed up to a meeting in a sparkly and lovely piece of jewelry. When I admired it she mentioned something about her blog and my mind went “ka-ching, here may be someone to talk to”. Meeting for drinks one night turned into monthly ‘bloggers meetings’ (even though it’s just us) and our collaboration this fall reviewing the fall fashions- some of my favorite posts. Thanks to this process I have a real time friend here in Portland which is priceless.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the cyber friends. There are those whose blogs I read regularly and share emails (The Rhythm Method, The Style Maniac, People Don’t Eat Enough Fudge, and Sydney Shop Girl are just a few) and then there are the people with whom you really connect. It can start with an innocuous email asking them what their job is like and turn into a true cyber friendship where they send you homemade pretzel candy treats in the mail. That would be Abby who is the best kind of crazy. All that’s left for us is a yoga retreat away from the rest of humanity.

One year and in and, hopefully, many more to go. If I’ve learned only one thing it is that I love to write, that it is a passion, and if I can find a way to make it my livelihood I will be fulfilled. Until then, I hope I can continue to entertain, amuse, and even provoke thought. Thank you to everyone who stops by to see what’s going on Inside Out.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Let's Talk: Anti-Aging Skincare

Ladies, I’m not against a little ‘freshening’ up and I’m a proponent of preventive measures but when it comes to skincare I’m a bit of a Luddite (if I could find a reliable lard source I would smear it on my face every day). I already inject myself with toxins so have less than zero interest in doing the same into my face or neck. I’m also, let’s admit it, a bit of a cheapskate. I simply cannot imagine that whatever butterfly wings/kitten blood/ground pearls brew, costing $300 an ounce, is really going to return my skin to its pre-teen luminescence (a 4-H judge once called my skin classic peaches and cream and yes, I know how pathetic it is that I count that as the high point of my dermatological life). So it is news when I say I’ve discovered a reasonably priced anti-aging skincare product that really does make a difference.

It's a sad truth that age and gravity impact your skin so several years ago I moved into the “anti-aging” arena of skincare but still only at a drugstore level. Anything that would inflame my skin before making it look better didn’t make sense so I stayed away, until I saw an ad for a Neutrogena product called Ageless Intensives® Anti-Wrinkle Deep Wrinkle Night Moisturizer.

I was intrigued by the claim that the cream used a new formulation of retinol that didn’t cause redness or irritation. This plus a price point of $18.99 made me think that it was time to fall face forward into the world of anti-aging elixirs. Three weeks later and I can see a difference. The very fine lines starting around my eyes are gone, the deeper ‘frown’ lines on my forehead (have NO idea how I got those) are almost non-existent, and my favorite effect- my skin is noticeably smoother. It feels the way it used to as opposed to in recent times when it seemed thicker and a bit dull. Now if they had a formula that would do the same when my mind feels that way I’d be set.

A couple quick tips for those of you who are newbies to retinol the way I was. One, if it’s the fifth ingredient on the label then the amount in the product is negligible and not of much use. It should be the first or second listed. Also, it’s a delicate ingredient that begins to oxidize and lose effectiveness with exposure to air and light. So, if you’re looking at products, anything in a glass or plastic container with a wide opening is not likely to be effective for long. The Neutrogena comes in an aluminum tube with a very small opening.



Disclaimer: if you’ve been reading this blog for more then 20 seconds than you know there’s no one out there paying me to promote anything. When I write about a product it’s simply because I like it and think you might like it as well. I’m just that kind of caring sharing person.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Inventing the Rest of Our Lives

(I wrote a book review of Inventing the Rest of Our Lives several weeks ago- this is a more personal take on the book.)


PHOTO: Parowan496

You may be aware that I recently turned 50 as, of course, I wrote about it. What I didn’t write about was the fear and trepidation I felt leading up to the big day. Who am I kidding? I was depressed. As in talk to a therapist, cry to my mother depressed. Part of it was to do with the basic facts of my life right now: unemployed in the worst economy of our lifetime with no prospects despite having worked for a master’s degree and having 15 years experience in my field. My brothers are highly successful as was my father so the feeling of overwhelming failure (LOSER) was a huge factor. Rationally I could see this but coupled with the fact that this birthday indicated I was heading into the back nine and had less life left to live than more made it emotionally difficult. I struggled for weeks beforehand, growing increasingly despondent (and not about the fact that the skin on my neck looks odd from certain angles) but about what was my purpose? Why was I even on the planet? What I was going to do with the time that was left?

It was synchronicity then that during my volunteer work at the library I saw Suzanne Braun Levine’s Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood. I brought it home and upon reading the first section Getting to What Matters: Letting Go and Saying No I felt as if I had slipped into a warm bath and met an old friend. Not at the same time, of course, because that would be awkward. Levine’s premise is that at fifty we’ve completed the first 25 years of adulthood and are ready to jump off into the second 25 (second adulthood). The two journeys are fundamentally different. As she puts it, “You’re not who you were, only older.” YES. YES. YES. This would be the first of many times when reading this book that I felt finally someone got it. Not just friendly sympathy but someone who had already been there and could help me figure out what lay ahead.

Levine divides entering this stage of life into four phases. In the first she invokes words like discombobulated, confusion, out-of-character behavior and says they’re not only normal, they’re to be expected. The complete inability I felt to answer even the most basic life questions- who am I? why am I here?- were simply signs that the shift of who I was to who I will be had already begun. I am different now and as I accept and embrace that feeling I move into what Levine calls the Fertile Void, the place of floating rather than falling. Life still feels like a muddled brew with no recipe but I’m becoming aware of the ingredients I want to use and what I no longer like. A new recipe for a new me is there but how to put it all together is still unknown. This is freeing and terrifying, namely because it impacts my feelings about work, one of the key ways I’ve always identified myself.

Again, Levine is reassuring. She states that even women for whom work is paramount find their priorities shifting. Ambition becomes less important than self-fulfillment while achievement replaces success. I understand this but would feel much better if I were established in a career and in a position to negotiate change. As a job seeker who needs a paycheck my options are much more limited. This will continue to be a struggle but at least I know my feelings of wanting to do something different and more attuned to me are not unusual.

Recalibration is taking the discoveries of the Fertile Void and fine tuning them. It’s renegotiating priorities and relationships. As we find self-knowledge and self-determination the confusion and out-of-character behavior subsides, leaving us with a clearer mind and answers for the questions. Then we can make peace and take charge, the final phase of negotiating second adulthood. This is where thought becomes action and those things that do not serve us are jettisoned. Insofar as how my gut feels when I’m faced with something that I now know is not right for me, I’m there. I can even say no, which has not always been possible.
 
It is comforting that at no point does Levine offer a timeline. Each of us is different and will approach this change at our own pace. There is no way (or reason) to get through it more quickly. In fact, “getting through it” is not the purpose anymore than it is the purpose of life. Easier to write than live because I have control issues and I’ve always been a destination gal. As Levine herself says, “We can ride the spiral but we cannot harness it.” This means settling into the discomfort, knowing it will pass, taking deep slow breaths, and staying open to that which is not yet known inside us.
 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Time to Write



I’ve written about where I write or where I’d like to write but this week I’ve become stuck on when to write. You might think it’s writer’s nirvana to have such a fluid schedule but, for me, it’s not. I’m finding that I’m one of those people who accomplish much more when I only have 3 hours to get it all done. Too much time and I procrastinate, lollygag, shilly-shally, fritter, you name it. Anything but plant my butt in the chair and write.

I’ve gotten it into my head that a schedule is a good thing so I’ve been trying to come up with a set time as opposed to 'when the mood strikes' (which is usually in the car or anyplace with no writing implements). At first it was mornings but as I do have someplace to be most mornings that hasn’t worked out (thereby refuting my pressure theory). Currently, I’m working on the pre-dinner hour but am finding my mind too entrenched in the day’s events and thoughts of what I need to do tomorrow to let go and get creative. Or often I feel ‘dry’ at that time of day. This leaves me with night-time which sounds good except night-time is the only time I have to spend with J and then I go to bed and read. Taking my laptop to bed is not a leap I want to make and my handwriting, well, let’s just say that’s not going to happen.
 
Enough about me. When do you write? I’m so interested I’ve set up a little poll to your right. Indulge me and share your best writing time. I’d also love to know: do you have a set schedule? Do you set goals of words or pages or time? Or does it happen when it happens?


Friday, October 21, 2011

People, We're Walking


I don’t view exercise as a pleasure. There I said it. I have to tease myself into exercising and this involves lies of a sort. Namely, a walk is a ‘nature adventure’. The only part of this that is problematic is our neighborhood. It’s 1 part Deliverance back country, 1 part upscale pre-crash housing developments, and 1 part NASCAR race track. It’s a bit difficult to relax when you are either being followed by some guy in overalls with a plug of chew or being forced off the side of the road by a Camero going 70 in a 25 zone. Imagine then my delight when I discovered a nature preserve directly behind the library. It has a wide paved path that meanders alongside a wetlands overgrown with cat tails and blackberry bushes like something out of a fairy tale- wild, green and inviting but with vicious thorns that will shred your skin.

Deadly foliage aside this is now one of my favorite get-aways. To keep the this-is-not-exercise illusion fresh I don’t time myself, wear a pedometer or check my heart rate. Thankfully, I have long legs and a fairly brisk stride so I must be getting some benefit but I try not to make it my focus. I move, breathe deeply, and sometimes…walk with my eyes closed. Weird, I know, but I’m prone to visual over-stimulation (which explains my addiction to the Real Housewives franchise but not why I can’t get my ass off the couch). There’s ALWAYS something to see somewhere which is great for my photography but not for relieving stress. I may also find a spot, stop and let my other senses take over, listening to the water, frogs, and birds, picking up the sweet-sour smell of wet leaves. Eyes closed allows the world to move through me, my mind to slow, and a welcome peace to descend.

When my eyes are open I’m entranced. Here are some photos with my thoughts. More may follow as the seasons or my route changes.


It's mid-October! Nothing is blooming now, everyone is shedding their leaves but here is this GIFT right next to the path. Makes me smile every time I go by. I always stop and inhale the lovely fragrance.


I realize this guy could be a species that kills plants and trees but he's so cuutttteee. He's got lots of pals so it does impinge on the walking with my eyes closed because it would be very bad karma to splat one.


Absolutely no idea what this tree is so if you know please comment. I just loved its spiky feathery look.


I love this burnt out, worn away tree stump. Looks like it could be the portal to some place magical.


My grown-up woman-walking-alone prudence is sorely tested by paths leading to who knows where. I want to explore. Still could happen but not yet.


I'm in a Portland suburb NOT Napa Valley but here they are: grapes. Growing in someone's backyard. Maybe I'm easily impressed but I think it's cool.


A blue heron under the bridge at the end of my walk. Like a sentinel keeping watch.


Different afternoon and now the heron is in a tree- no small feat for a bird of it's size.


Do you have a health routine? What works for you? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Evoking Fall


Apple Crisp

1 cup oatmeal
¾ cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup butter, softened

Mix first four ingredients and then add butter. Mix with a fork (or your hands if you want) until crumbly.


3 to 4 baking apples (your choice)

Slice apples and place in a buttered 8” pie plate or 8x8 glass pan. Cover with topping and bake at 350˚ for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Lasts several days when refrigerated.



In mid-October our family would head out on our yearly trip to the local pumpkin/apple farm. There we’d watch apples being pressed for cider, pick out our pumpkins for Halloween, and buy a bushel of fresh ripe apples. The day was always sunny but with that distinctive chill and the first cup of cider off the press magical.

Hours after getting home the heavenly aroma of cinnamon and apple would waft out from the kitchen, the anticipation would build, and my brothers and I would jostle for a spot in front of the oven (because that would speed the baking process). Once out of the oven someone (one of my brothers, not me) would try and pull a bit of crust off and burn their finger. Every. Time. With magical mother timing the crisp would cool slightly while we ate dinner but would still be warm and luscious in time for dessert.

So, build a fire, pour a glass of ice cold milk or brew a pot of Earl Grey, put on your most comfortable clothes, find escapist reading material. Slice a generous piece of crisp, curl up, and savor the crunchy cinnamony crust and textured taste of perfectly cooked apples unadorned by anything other than their own juice.  Settle into fall.




This week's RemembeRED prompt was: what evokes fall for you? 300 words or less.
 

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Unemployment Diaries- Safety Net

It’s often hard to know how honest or serious to be when writing this. I don’t want people to think ‘ugh, not this bitching again’ and click away but neither am I good at pretending all is lollipops and roses. So for today, the beginning of the work week for many, bear with me.

Back in April I filed for unemployment benefits so for the last six months I’ve been getting weekly checks. They’re equivalent to about 40% of my salary but they help me pay the bills and, more importantly, mean I don’t have to dip into my 401K to stay solvent. In short it’s been my safety net. I’m not proud of it but neither am I ashamed as for 30 years I paid into the system and now, unfortunately, I need that money. It’s simply a fact.

Thursday I got the letter saying that my benefits had run out. I guess I’ve been the queen of denial because for some reason I thought they lasted a year. Yes, I know, it’s embarrassingly stupid- expecially for someone whose profession is research. When I finished reading I had to put my head between my knees because I thought I would pass out. Fear lodged itself like a lump of coal in my throat- hot, hard, choking. The physical sensations were as painful as the howling in my head and yet I couldn’t move. Some primal function in my brain stem felt that if I stayed very still this would go away. This, of course, means I have as much chance at survival as the bunny who freezes in the grass when the hawk flies over.

All my thoughts of the new adventure of turning 50 and perhaps changing directions flew out of my head in an instant. Whimsical, new agey paradigms are hard to hold onto when you’re afraid you can’t pay the mortgage. Or, you can but only by dipping into your retirement funds. Since I’m on a full emotional luge run to disaster I’ll remind you that my fears about retirement run deep thanks to my MS. There is absolutely no way to predict when my ability to support myself will be gone and when it is, it’s likely to go in a big way. Enough said.

Thankfully, after 45 minutes on hold the next morning I was told that I qualified for extended benefits so I have another 5 months but at a reduced rate. As I paced the house for those 45 minutes waiting to talk to a human I thought what it must be like for those who are about to be evicted, foreclosed upon, have small children to feed…so many people who have moved beyond fear to desperation. I’m not there and for that I’m grateful but saddened for all those who are.

My only (belabored) point here is how close to the precipice I feel.  Getting that letter was like the ground giving way beneath my feet and knowing that once I start falling there’s no way to stop. Keeping fear at bay and staying open to life gets harder as the safety net gets smaller.


Source: favim.com via Catherine on Pinterest

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Let's Covet: Fall Shoes

The end of this week was a bit more fraught than I prefer (more on that another time) so I need to lighten things up. Way up. Fantasy shopping up.

I subscribe to way too many magazines. Eight to be exact. They’re a great escape- pages and pages of fashion and ideas even if it's things I can't/don't wear anymore. Acceptance is not a virtue I possess.

What’s catching my eye right now is shoes. If I were the workplace a new pair of fall shoes would be my normal splurge. Since I’m not and don’t wear much more than driving loafers these days I’ll indulge here. Instead of shopping and spending money, I got my adrenaline rush through hours of searching online to find usable photos of the shoes I’m loving right now.

Ann Taylor is back in my good graces again with these two shoes. What doesn't work for me is their prices. Honestly, have you gotten a raise in the last two years? How then do they think their shoes are worth almost $300 a pair? Am I completely out of it on shoe prices? Someone let me know!




These would be my edgy 'f you' shoes if I were in my old job because the staid finance guys there would NOT get them. I say they're perfect with patterned tights and any length skirt and even with dark denim for date night.


Leopard print is a big deal (again) this fall. I like the higher vamp (doesn't mean what you think- it's the upper part of the shoe) because it gives more security when wearing and keeps a leopard print stiletto shoe from looking slutty. These would be great with trad black trousers and a silk cabled turtleneck. Classic with a twist.


Please ignore the polka dot stocking (on of the fall trends I really didn't like). This shoe is all about the color. Call it aubergine, cognac, burgundy, I think it's fabulous and one of the new neutrals. Sassy interpretation by Jason Wu.


Another high vamp and classic color- cordovan. Maybe a little more red but it reminds me of my favorite Bass penny loafers. Those preppy shoes that caused you weeks of pain until you broke them in and then you wore them until the soles fell off. This is the grown-up, Céline version at $870. Not gonna happen. Sigh.

Have you indulged this fall? Do share!

Images from Elle.com

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wordstock: My Censor, My Self



One of the most interesting parts of Wordstock are the panel sessions and workshops they offer. Sue and I attended one called My Censor, My Self. This is a topic many writers confront- that internal editor who shuts down the flow of words because ‘the punctuation is incorrect’ ‘that word is misspelled’ ‘that doesn’t make sense’ so I was eager to hear what the panel had to say. It was composed of three authors:  Lidia Yuknavitch (The Chronology of Water) Lynn Conner (The Stones and the Poet), and Kerry Cohen Hoffman (Dirty Little Secrets) and a moderator. Hoffman and Yuknavitch are memoirists while Conner wrote a creative non-fiction book for children.

I was so busy listening as an aspiring writer that I forgot my reporting skills. What follows are a few of the thoughts that stuck with me and which author said it.



The parts and roads that scare us the most are those we need to follow as the predominate emotion is shame and by writing it we are giving a voice to those who can’t. (Yuknavitch)

More than a sense of ‘I can’t write it’ is one of ‘is there language for it?’ (Yuknavitch)

Writing fiction often makes telling a universal truth easier because there is less to censor (am I going to offend/anger someone?). Non-fiction feels more like explaining. (Hoffman)

One thing I’ve learned from writing memoirs is the plurality of truthes. There is no one truth with a capital ‘T’. (Yuknavitch)

Even when it’s very ugly, like a bad, really bad person there is beauty in the truth of that person. You must use compassion when writing about deeply flawed people. (Hoffman)


The session was an hour long so this may not seem like much but at some point the conversation for all three turned more to external censorship, namely from editors and publishers. Apparently, litigation is the number one concern of these folks and even calling someone bad in a memoir is going to raise questions of “will they sue?” Also, if you plan on having any sensuality in your non-fiction- don’t. Publishers don’t like it at all. Violence is OK but a woman’s sexuality is disturbing. Kind of the same mindset that runs Hollywood.

This portion of the session was interesting but also disappointing because I’m virtually certain the only people in the room who had dealt with publishers were the panel. I had hoped they would pass out the secret censor-removing elixir that allowed words to flow like honey with no interference. Not to be. Still I enjoyed listening to authors who have been through the process start to finish.

It also made me wonder- how does your censor work and what do you do to shut it down and kept the writing going?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just Before You Start

Again, I was in the bathroom, hiding in a stall, listening to the high pitched nerve-induced chatter going on around me. I wanted everyone to leave so I could come out and do what I needed to do without embarrassment. Finally it grew quiet and I snuck shivering to the sinks, pulling the giant bottle of Kaopectate out of my duffle. I took several big slugs then stowed the bottle and rinsed my mouth out. I’d done this so often it no longer tasted bad to me, just chalky and familiar. More importantly, necessary. Without it I had no belief that I could do what I needed to do without being horribly sick.

Outside I tried to calm my pounding heart and shaking hands as girls walked by, shouting to each other and chanting. I hung back, making small movements of my neck and shoulders while jogging in place. Moments later it was my turn and I went into the steamy crowded room, found my place, and waited for the summons.

“Swimmers up!”

Slowly I climbed the starting block. Now there was only my hammering heart and the fear curled in my belly. Eyes closed, I breathed in the welcoming chlorine smell of the pool. “Swimmers take your mark”, bending forward with fingers tightly curled around the bottom of the stand. Then flying, sleek and straight, skimming the water’s surface before beginning to shred it with my arms and legs. I didn’t know what went on around me. My head stayed down, eyes focused on the bottom of the pool. No breath until coming out of the first 25 yards and then only when lungs burned. Now it was the water that churned and my mind was blissfully silent, the fear gone. Now it was good. Now it was easy.



This piece is in response to a RemembeRED prompt: Stephen King says “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”

Write a memoir post – first-person and true – inspired by that statement. Word limit is 300.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wordstock

This weekend caps off a big Pacific Northwest event called Wordstock (get it?). It’s a great amalgam of writers, readers, publishers, and vendors. I thought it would a fun Saturday adventure for me and my good friend Sue. It was but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t lament the fact that my desire to be a writer is tempered by the fact that every semi-insane badly dressed unemployed freak thinks the same thing. Apparently, almost anyone who has ever combined a verb and a noun thinks they can write. And this festival encourages them.

Who am I kidding? As evidenced by the fact that I dragged my fashion posts out for two weeks I’m in some kind of elemental battle between my intellect and my superficial girly side. I worked in fashion (buyer, sales exec) for 10 years then chucked it all to follow another passion—books, learning, reading—and became a librarian. Now, as that career has ground to a painful stop, I’m exploring my lifelong passion for writing. In case, you’re missing the point: librarians and writers SO DO NOT know how to dress.

These are the kind of writers I want to hang out with:

Candace Bushnell and Naomi Wolf

Muriel Barbery and Jennifer Egan (love love their work)

Not these:

did not want to ask for names

You know what- given my previous post on Steve Jobs- I think this chick is cool because she is flying her freak flag and damn proud of it. Plus, she wrote a book and published it w/ her partner (weird unicorn dude in the background).

There is one other correlation between librarians and writers. No one wants to pay them. In the last week I’ve gotten positive responses to write book reviews (something has got to come out of reading ten books a month) from three different organizations, none of which will pay a penny. Yes, I want the experience but at some point if it won’t pay, it’s a hobby. Maybe that’s what I need to accept.

My personal issues aside Wordstock was a fun mix of every genre from children’s board books to scifi to graphic novels. It is not a small regional show as it attracts important authors and holds workshops with these authors and the unwashed masses of aspiring writers.

Although my pictures aren’t great I got to hear Julia Glass, whose work I love (The Whole World Over and Three Junes) speaking with Diana Abu-Jabar, who I haven’t read but will now look into. Julia talked about her childhood and how in her family the division between storytellers and those who do the cleaning up after dinner made her decide to become a storyteller.


Michael Ondaatje was interviewed by Andrew Proctor (Executive Director of Literary Arts) and did a reading from his newest work, The Cat’s Table.




I'm exaggerating (so unusual for me) when I said that ALL librarians are without style. During a session (which I’ll write more about later) I looked down and noticed Sue’s shoes and almost created a scene when I shrieked and said, “I love those- where did you get them?” See, these writer people simply do not get the importance of dressing well and shushed me. Anyway, here are Sue’s adorable and comfortable shoes which she bought to take to Italy. She has yet to divulge where she got them but I’ll get it out of her.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs

Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. -Steve Jobs, Stanford 2005


Steve Jobs died Wednesday at age 56. I’m neither a reporter, biographer, or technology expert so for me to comment seems a bit specious. Furthermore, I’ve never used an Apple product, not out of any principle or dislike, I’m simply not a technology/new gadget person.

Why post then? To catch a SEO keyword uptick? No, I’m not that clever or crass. Simply put, I am deeply touched by these words. Impending death does not always awaken eloquence or awareness but Jobs seems profoundly aware of what he was losing and yet, also grateful for what he had gained in his life. Whether I know his products or his business is ultimately of no matter. What I know is that this was a man who had complete faith in his vision and, just as importantly, himself. To me that is awe inspiring because it is so foreign to most of us.

It’s a noisy world and getting noisier every day. We all need to find the quiet inside and live by it.   

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. -Steve Jobs, Stanford 2005


Monday, October 3, 2011

Back to Fashion: Rodarte

I had a lot of fun writing about fall fashion this year. Much of that time was spent on designers who are more traditional, which is an aesthetic I admire and am drawn to. Rodarte is a bit off the beaten path for me but I was delighted by the fall line and didn’t want the season to go by without a mention.

Rodarte is the brainchild of sisters Katie and Laura Mulleavy. They’ve captured the eye of any number of hip Hollywood types like Keira Knightly and Natalie Portman but I’d found their looks in previous seasons to be very hit or miss between sheer frothiness and a bit of that leather S&M look I wish would go away.

Previous looks from Rodarte


I was pleasantly surprised, then, to see that their fall line took a simpler, more wearable tone. Could it be the collaboration with Target? No, apparently the inspiration was the movie Days of Heaven. Based on the long flowing dresses and fitted coats I felt a Sense and Sensibility vibe but that’s just me.

Wherever it came from this line hit the spot with subtle feminine looks and a touch of whimsy. This was a nice counterpoint to much of the bold color, retro, color blocking, or charred androgyny (hello Chanel) used by many of the other designers. Here there were soft fabrics in teensy prints used in classic silhouettes with a twist, like the cross front motif. The whimsy was in quilted, appliquéd bodices on several dresses, but it walked the line between charming and childish, coming down firmly on the side of charming.



Other nice touches were the collar-as-necklace look on a number of pieces, just a hint of skin between bodice and neck. That plus, the play between soft dresses and chunky boots made the line feel even more original and fresh. Finally, the pants were one of the most flattering of the high-waisted looks with slimming slant pockets.

So, while much of the fashion I showed at the beginning of September was from more establisheddesigners, Rodarte is now on my radar. Which, I’m sure, they’re ecstatic about as the lack of my endorsement was the only thing holding back their success. If I start wearing the clothes ladies, who knows how high you can fly- call me!

Images from Elle.com
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