Toward the Sun

The first beautiful and warm weekend of the season made its presence known. I met it with arms wide opened. Saturday, on the way to hang out with friends in the park, I made a detour to District Flea where I scored an awesome pair of hammered gold earrings. Should I make it up to NYC, I’ll make certain to visit the woman from whose shop I purchased the earrings.

hammered gold earrings

She had some really great pieces, but I had to be conservative with spending money and thus only purchased the earrings. I slipped them in my bag and went on my way to dance it up in the park.

We congregated in the city to enjoy the sun and dance and have been doing this since last summer. This past Saturday was no exception. While waiting for folks, I sat on the fountain’s edge and worked on my tan. I also continued my read of Julian Barnes’s book of essays, Something to Declare (it feeds a bit of my own Francophilia), as I waited. Once the dancing got underway, I stayed for several hours, laughing and chatting between dances that I sat out. My hair collected the falling seeds or whatever it was from the nearby trees, making it more concrete that I had taken advantage of the gorgeous weather.

The following day I spent two hours at the gym for the classes I like the most–barre and Zumba. Afterward, I tried a run on the National Mall. I’ve done it previous weekends, but I’m not certain how I could have forgotten about the Cherry Blossom Festival. The gravelly stretch of the Mall was quite fine, but then I had the bright idea to run near the Jefferson Memorial. That was a debacle as no running actually occurred. The throng of people descending on the memorial made it so that I slowed down to a walk, a walk so frustrating that I turned back around and headed back to my gym. There was simply no room to pass, and I had the thought that I’d attempt a run next weekend.

The weekend continued with me meeting up with my good girlfriends for dinner. We sat near the open door of the restaurant, which can be fun when you’re a people watcher like I am. Between participating in conversation with the girls, my attention was called to passersby on the sidewalk only three yards away. The weekend of activity came to a close with a cool breeze, a glass of wine, and more laughter.

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In a ’90s State of Mind

I’ve been working on a story, the bulk of which takes place in the early ’90s while reveries call back the early and mid-80s. The research for this story has been fun, though I always love conducting research regardless. The things I remember about this particular time period have been helped along by Google searches, but imagine my surprise this afternoon when I discovered Melrose Place, original version, on Netflix. (A Wiki search tells me that it has been available since 2011, in which case, where the hell have I been?!) Because of today’s snow day, I decided, after getting in some writing and hair washing, that I’d look for something to watch. While the documentary that I chose about modeling in L.A. was a bust–it simply did not capture my attention–it did make me feel a certain nostalgia for Melrose Place and its very early ’90s aesthetic.

The show debuted the summer before my eighth grade year, and it was all my friends and I could talk about. We were big fans of 90210 and were into its spin-off from the word “Go!” Today looking at the style from that era–more than 20 years ago!–and thinking about what I see around the city and across the blogosphere, the ’90s are back in a big way. I mean, I own a pair of high-waisted distressed shorts that I distressed myself last summer.

Take a look at these screenshots from the Melrose Place pilot and tell me that these characters wouldn’t fit in if they were transplanted to 2014.

The prints! The high waists! The overalls! It’s the ’90s all over again in this here new millenium (and new decade). I’ll leave you all with the season one opening credits, too. That sound? Is totally and quintessentially early 90s.

Diversion

Looking for some diversion, watch these two videos.

The first video is a “First Kiss” project where an amateur filmmaker, Tatia Pilieva, asks twenty strangers to kiss each other for the first time…in front of cameras! Strangers kissing is old hat–when someone has liquid courage things can and do happen. For this video, however, I think the askward moment comes because they’re asked to do it specifically for the camera. I have a feeling, though, that more than one pairing went off, grabbed a drink, and got to know each other better.

 

The next video is by Funny or Die. President Obama sits for a sketch interview with Zach Galifianakis on “Between Two Ferns.” The president gets in some zingers as well as some information about the ACA. Two for one!: Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: President Barack Obama

 

I Love Writing. I Love Fashion. Never the Twain Shall Meet?

“Once, at a workshop, I sat with other unpublished writers, silently nursing our hopes and watching the faculty—published writers who seemed to float in their accomplishment. A fellow aspiring writer said of one faculty member, “Look at that dress and makeup! You can’t take her seriously.” I thought the woman looked attractive, and I admired the grace with which she walked in her heels. But I found myself quickly agreeing. Yes, indeed, one could not take this author of three novels seriously, because she wore a pretty dress and two shades of eye shadow.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay on elle.com titled Why Can’t a Smart Woman Love Fashion? compelled me to write. Like Ms. Adichie, I am African (though born in the U.S.). My parents are West African, and I was raised by a mother who is much like the mother who Ms. Adichie describes–mindful of her appearance, has an appreciation for various perfumes, makes sure that her jewelry matches. We learn through modeled behavior, and seeing my mother take great care in how she presented herself to the world had an effect on me. I eventually started caring about my appearance, too.

During my pre-teen and teen years, I had subscriptions to Sassy,/i. and Seventeen. I tried to emulate some of the fashions that I saw Lisa Turtle or Brenda Walsh wear on television, I made sure that I wrapped my hair every night so that I could brush it down the next morning for school, I made myself aware of what things were “in” and what was “out.” And while I was conscious of style and fashion, I was also a bookworm who loved writing.

I went on to major in English while in college and later earned a Master’s in writing. During both periods of my life, I simply couldn’t find it in myself to walk into a classroom in my pajamas or wrinkled clothes. Even if I wore jeans to class, I’d likely pair them with some low-heeled boots and a nice v-neck shirt. To this day, if I pull out a shirt or a skirt from my drawer or my closet and it’s wrinkled, I plug in the iron and get to work. These are things my mom instilled in me. She also advocated for higher education. The two were never diametrically opposed in her world or in our household–you didn’t leave the house in ill-fitting or wrinkled clothes and you strived to earn good grades in school.

It never struck me as strange that I could simultaneously love writing and love fashion. I didn’t think it odd that I liked wearing heels. Or that I carried around in my purse whatever novel I happened to be reading. So when I was invited to interview with a company years ago for a writing and communications position, I prepped as best I could: I printed off a clean copy of my resume as well as a couple of writing samples; I chose a slate gray pencil skirt, a black camisole, a black blazer, black tights, and black heels for the interview; and I slipped the sheets of paper into a leather portfolio I’d purchased at Target (sister on a budget here).

I met first with the managing editor of this company (an educational company that produced curriculum), and he and I spoke for perhaps 20 minutes, me listening to the standard “Our company does…” and “What you would do in this position is…” explanations and him entertaining the questions you’re told to ask in interviews so that you exhibit your research skills and interest. After he and I spoke, he told me that he would pull in the associate editor, who, if I were hired, would be my direct suprvisor. She stepped into the glass-walled conference room and he excused himself. She asked similar questions to his and I spoke about my educational background.

It’s been four and a half years since that interview and I still remember with absolute clarity that she looked me in my eyes during our conversation and said, “You don’t look like a writer.” The company had a fairly relaxed dress code and a fairly relaxed environment (people wore jeans and sneakers and some employees had their dogs around the office), but I knew that one should not show up to an interview in just any old thing. “Dress for the job you want…” and all that jazz.

I was taken aback by this woman’s statement. In six words she had essentially called me a fraud. Those six words carried with them the judgment that because I’d dressed nicely it was inconceivable to her that I could also be a writer. I didn’t look the part as determined by…Hollywood? By certain writers’ workshops? By her. I tried not to lose composure and answered that I I wanted to look my best for the interview. That may or may not have been true. Yes, I wanted to present well for the interview, but that was also my approach in my (non-interviewing) life. It’s something that was ingrained from childhood. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. I wouldn’t have fit in, what with not looking the way she thought writers should look.

That experience, however, didn’t make me re-evaluate my views on appearance and how I should present myself to the world. I’m a smart woman who loves her lipstick and heels as well as her writing journals and Toni Morrison novels. I see no reason to compromise on any of that.