Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: A (Slightly) Sentimental Year in Retrospective

Maybe 2009 was the year for adult accomplishments, the ones like getting and working at my first two internships, both of which, despite their sometimes trying hours of sitting and refreshing a screen, desperately hoping for a distraction, the headaches and burning eyes at repetative tasks, taught me and motivated me so much more for the future that I envision. I remember when having an internship seemed like the most romantic thing in the world, and somewhat impossible to achieve. Scouring Ed2010 or Craigslist and emailing countless resumes and cover letters felt like college applications all over again (and later, apartment hunting would feel like the same thing), but I must have forgotten that this is my reality and it fits exactly the way it should.

Or, apartments-the wretched drama that accompanied each one, for the excitement and discovery of a new (albeit temporary) home, for the lifestyles and possibilities each glimpse at a different one offered, for finding one on my own and the little joys that comes with sort of living alone--and all the pains that stranger roommates accompanies. For the uncertainty and the potential for disaster.

With the apartment I learned that I am capable of everything I could have ever imagined on my own. More than ever, I am in love with and in charge of my independence and, especially in New York, it's invaluable knowledge. But with independence came an edging awareness of solitude, and loneliness. Nights where I felt entrapped and completely distanced from the rest of the world, my classmates, my friends. Irrational thinking, of course, but to tell myself that at 2am on a Friday night after a week spending evenings at home, alone, was a hard mistake to correct.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Things I Love Thursday!

+to do lists and crossing everything off
+cupcakes & free frosting shots, and a white daisy for "being cute"
+decorating a sparse tree with silver aluminum shaped into hearts
+hot chocolate cooked for strangers in the park
+walking across the williamsburg bridge in the freezing cold
+layering with cashmere
+new clothes: the perfect little tuxedo bra, a poofy red dress, a velvet blazer with a big bow in the back, a silk betsey johnson dress with gold daisy buttons
+last days of classes and nearly finishing finals
+gold white Christmas lights wrapped around trees that line the streets
+stepping into a warm apartment after the biting cold
+the subway tea party, of course, and the sweet folks who attended it
+Christmas songs as the perfect soundtrack to getting anywhere in the jolliest of spirits
+expected snow this weekend! Flying home on Monday!

Despite everything that has not been going well lately, it's these little things that remind me to smile and appreciate the season. And besides, it's almost 2010! I can't wait for so many the meantime, New York near Christmas time is remarkable. I'm going to miss it, even for the short while (relatively) I'll be gone.

But enough about me, what has you happy and giddy a week from Christmas?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to Get in the Holiday Spirit

+Listen to Christmas music-let go of your cynicism, pessimism, sense of superiority, self important apathy and way-too-hip-for-this bias for just one moment and let yourself enjoy Christmas songs for what they are. So okay, maybe you despise the cheap, plastic sounding modern pop versions you hear in every store you walk into, but look for Christmas classics and originals and don't fight the sense of jolly spirit that seizes you. If you really can't bring yourself to listen to anything without a Pitchfork approved label on top, there are plenty of marvelous indie musicians with their modern versions of classics that you won't be embarrassed to add to your iPod. (Check out this exhaustive round up of Christmas mp3s/mixes/playlists for options). And trust me, it will get you all jolly and smiling and proper minded. Now skip down that snow lined street singing your favorite version of "Jingle Bells" with non-ironic delight.

Dress festive! Even if you lack the glamorous Christmas party department stores would lead you to believe everyone is throwing, you know, the ones where you wear extravagant red dresses and gold glitter heels and pose against various luxury furnishings with a thin, champagne glass in hand looking as seductive and holiday vixen as can be, you can still dress the part and make believe.

Even if you're not willing to go all out, at least incorporate bits and pieces of that holiday glamor into your outfits from now until New Year's. Try sparkling accessories like crystal necklaces and luscious big bows, party frocks and stockings and heels, or something as simple as an oversized brooch on a gray cardigan. Wear sexy lingerie beneath your everyday clothes and slink about your room in a silk robe and slippers. Feel like a starlet in red lips and black dresses for a simple gathering of friends. Work gold, silver, or red into any outfit--play it up, and don't feel guilty about looking as darling as you do.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Vintage Subway Tea Party

Is it possible to travel back in history 700 years for just two dollars and twenty five cents? Just ask the attendees of Levys' Family's (NY's first family tour guides, apparently) (not officially sanctioned) vintage tea party they threw on a 1930s V train. Given the wicker chairs, whirling ceiling fans, jerking slow speed and flickering lights of the train plus the old time live jazz band that played, and the ever so well dressed (in various mashes of decades and eras and to various degrees of elaborate) riders, the atmosphere was nearly authentic.

As riders struggled with balancing cameras, plates of cookies and tea and gripping railings, delighted in the stares of unsuspecting normal train riders unaware of the time traveling shenanigans, as usual, I marvel at the adventures of New York and the romance of bow ties and top hats. Then, as the train lurches forward and I nearly spill my tea and drop my precious DSLR in my air constraining corset and with the discomfort of garter straps cutting into my thighs, I'm somewhat glad this sort of time traveling is temporary make believe. Really, really, wonderful make believe.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Elusive Intellectual

In NYU's infamous Writing the Essay class Freshman year, I wrote my final paper on the genius that is David Foster Wallace [1]. I don't remember much of the paper, only that it was over eight pages and received quite a good grade--especially for the class. I remember, mostly, the all nighters I pulled scrambling to stitch together each writing assignment, rubbing teary eyes sunken with exhaustion beneath a cheap fluorescent lamp, taking five minute naps with my head on my arms in front of the laptop, watching the hours slip away until I simply could not stay awake for another second. Alarms set for forsaken hours before the sun rose to finish assignments, and the brief but exquisite relief after turning in each assignment.

It was hardly ideal conditions for reading, especially of the sort of long, involved essays that David Foster Wallace wrote, with the weighing in of linguistic Descriptivists vs. Prescriptivists and sections and subsections dissecting the English language. I won't attempt to explain the complicated essay (but I'd encourage you to read the essay in its entirety for funny, eloquent and provoking insight in to the English language/grammar/usage/politics/general DFW brilliance), but the point is that I never did read the whole essay (even as I took out sections and footnotes that seemed relevant to fit into my paper). But today I returned to it without the delirium of sleep deprivation and the pressure of a deadline, to learn that I could appreciate Wallace's arguments and writing far, far better (and wish I could have turned back time to rewrite that particular essay, even if the end result was good).

But instead of discussing the essay, my thoughts circle back to me, myself, and I. Not that I have anything of relevance to add to the subject matter, but it was the glimpse into the fiercely academic, intellectual and critical world that Wallace offered that so seduced me.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Things I Love Thursday

+corsets (seriously I have brought three in the past few days, only one of which is around, but every time I put it on I feel ridiculously hot and it’s just so fantastic)
+this bizarre out of season warm (but windy) day—makes walking that much more lovely
+because somehow I really needed to hear it, “you can’t be dumb if you tried.”
+and on that note, compliments and reaffirmation and accomplishments in classes from professors
+awaiting packages
+out of nowhere long & fun if procrastination fueled conversations with my normally not-so-friendly roomies
+writing inspired bursts of ‘poetry’
+it’s the smallest thing but, spending time in coffee shops, even eavesdropping sometimes make the loveliest of evenings
+how did I almost forget this CAMERA OBSCURA CAMERA OBSCURA CAMERA OBSCURA (who were infinitely better this time live than the previous times combined)
+unbelievable cheap and unbelievably delicious literal hole-in-the-wall restaurants
+shopping as recreation—even when not buying anything
+it’s still early but, Christmas music and holiday decorations going up everywhere. <3

I know, everything sounds so materialistic, but really well 1. I spent last week being sick and in bed and now I can’t help it if all I can think about is dressing up in delightful lingerie and poofy skirts and high heels and big coats to strut down Fifth Ave and wander into department stores I can’t afford, gawking at window displays…

The quintessential New York Christmas—even though I won’t be in New York for Christmas. I’m rambling, but what has you happy and delighted this week?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mix 2: God Help the Girl (pretty girls singing pretty songs)

photo: mum, i am gay!


1. Jenny Owen Youngs-First Person
2. God Help The Girl-God Help The Girl
3. The Magnetic Fields-The Nun's Litany
4. Pink Martini-Je Ne Veux Pas
5. The Pipettes-Dirty Mind
6. Ida Maria-Queen of the World
7. Thao with the Get Down Stay Down-When We Swam
8. Lykke Li-Dance Dance Dance
9. Bobby Baby-Bye Bye Snow
10. Dirty Projectors-Two Doves
11. Camera Obscura-French Navy
12. Asobi Seksu-Transparence
13. Annie-I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me
14. The Blow-Hock It
15. La Roux-Tigerlily
16. Friendly Fires-Paris (Aeroplane Remix Feat. Au Revoir Simone)

I know what you are thinking, but this is not that sort of mix. "Pretty" does not mean all pastels and soft edges, girls with big brown doe eyes in vintage floral dresses. "Pretty" does not mean writhing hands and writing love letters, hopeless optimism and sentimentality. This is not easy and simple and sugar sweet. And it is most definitely not harmless.

No. This is about a girl with complexities and aspirations you can hardly imagine. One who takes risks and smiles at the consequences. One who is at once in charge of her independence and sexuality as she is vulnerable. Shy yet aggressive. Subtle but bold. One who seeks the thrill of tottering at the edge between this and that. A girl who stays up all night waiting for a phone call and dismisses it when it does come, a hopeless romantic with a filthy mind. One with a sardonic wit and a tender sweetness. One who goes after what she wants and dismisses anything in her way. A feminist with a heart that can be melted with a single glance, a prototype with impossible to classify tendencies.

As God Help the Girl put it: you have been warned, I'm born to be contrary. And she demands your attention, in dancing bright acoustic verses and shouted choruses that stay in your head, in soft delicate cooing or catchy sassy riffs that you can dance to nonstop. In songs about desires and moments and boys and girls, with broken hearts or a pounding anticipation. In pop and beauty and dreaming of a future that hovers just ever so slightly out of reach.

As always, if you download this, please do let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Things I Love Thursday

, originally uploaded by paper.lilies.

+acoustic indie karaoke: realizing my life long dream of singing "Stars of Track and Field" (and getting compliments from strangers on it!)
+buying darling lingerie (with ruffles and bows and garters, oh my!) on lunch break
+unlikely beautiful fall weather--and my favorite past time, reading in parks and petting puppies
+croissants & earl gray
+field trips and adventures (esp. when they're under the excuse of 'work')
+library books
+staying in bed on cold cold mornings
+making mixes (don't worry I'm making it for you too!)
+unexpected emails from people I rather like a lot
+revelations after painful obsessions
+grapes. (I know. Always.)
+chai, vodka milk cocktail (seriously best thing I've ever had.)

Oh I know, I haven't done one of these in far too long, but don't worry, I haven't forgotten. And you shouldn't either! What makes you want to dance and sing and love this week?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Morbid Anatomy Library

Death makes no sense
except to people who have passionately loved life.

- Cioran

There is something immensely beautiful about death and the grotesque. It's the quiet dignity of a still body, the tragic song of blood and bones. And everything that reminds you of your own mortality, at once stirs discomfort in the pit of your stomach and inspires a desperate worship.

Sometimes it's simply the soft fur of a taxidermic creature, eyes glazed and glassy with a body frozen forever, that provokes a silent appreciation. That's a large part of the appeal of Obscura (my favorite store of antiques and oddities store in the East Village), all the hidden treasures and histories of the past tucked beneath dark aesthetics. When I chanced upon the Morbid Anatomy Library (actually while fact checking for TimeOut), I knew I had to pay it (and my love of all things morbid) a visit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New York, I Love You (But You're Bringing Me Down)

I wonder if I'm falling out of love with New York.


Maybe it's the man I passed while walking the same route to the same internship (it should be glamorous but how glamorous is it, really, sitting inside all day in front of an outdated Mac in too dim lighting and rereading the same blogs to alleviate boredom?) whose umbrella got scraped and broken by a postal van driving too close, and him screaming "fucking faggot!" at the driver and walking off, anger steaming from his shoulders in this miserable October rain and drenched pavement that splashes dirty rainwater that soaks into jeans and fake leather boots.

Maybe it's taking the same lines at the same times on the same days to the same stops and making the same walk through areas I've already memorized. Maybe it's feeling the same frustration as the L train chokes through its tortured route from Bedford to 1st Ave, circling the same never ending construction around Washington Square, watching the same tired performances and skate boarders and vendors pepper Union Square.

Maybe it's the oppressive roommates, 25 or 29 or 30 and living in the same Brooklyn apartment with a shitty job (waitress, bartender), still slugging through school and spending weekends at home with only the noise of her TV or a boyfriend without a job, their voices a constant terror and reason to stay in my room (or leave the place as often as possible). The fear of becoming them, their sad repetitive lives, their endless complaints and pains and same old answers to the same old questions (how are you? Good. How was your day? Long, I'm so tired).

Maybe it's Joan Didion or Meghan Daum's essays on leaving New York. Brilliant writers who described exactly how I've felt the little tidbits of New York, envisioned the same romantic future I do. Instead of Daum's 104th street apartment with the wood floors, my dream abode is on West 10th Street, with its brownstones and archway of leaves that I'd fallen in love with the very first time I walk down it, and still marvel over even after the hundreds of times down that same path.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Skin Like Silk, Face Like Glass


It's not winter but it feels like winter. Not winter from a snow globe and warm fires and soft layers but that different sort of winter. Distant, cold, tender. Winter in breaths of air frosted on windows, on fingertips and eyelashes that quiver with the wind, and the welcoming of the caress of warm air, indoors, anywhere. Fumbling for keys and misplaced pens and notebooks and adjusting this and that. But it's fall. And I know, I know, I write about it a lot, too much, but I can't help it--it's in the air, the room, the covers on my lap, the words falling from countless pairs of lips.

Lately I've been preoccupied with the idea of "pretty" writing--language for language's sake, songs for the loveliness they provoke, experiences because they match the versions played in my head. I've been dreaming in other worlds too, complex and vivid, and terrifying, most of the time, ghosts of little children and vengeance and blood spilled on board ships--it just sounds bizarre, explaining it, but in those foggy moments in between dreams and consciousness, the full potential of these dreams come alive. And I hardly want to wake up. Not waking up from nightmares, really? Yes, it is like watching the most absurd surreal horror films in my own sub conscious. And there is beauty in the morbid and terrible.

And what else. Lately I've been trying not to play the aggressor-so to speak. Letting things happen, and not worrying if they don't. Of course since picking up that approach lots of (unexpected) things have started happening. And I'm going to have to remain vague, for now, anyway. Vague and abstract. My old friends. Sing, muse, of these impossible to capture thoughts that drift, shadows fluttering across my eyelids before bed, bitter sweetness that sinks in between my lips, tinting my teeth. Sing of the burning eyes and a heart that won't stop shaking for whatever reason. Sing and sing and make it go away, like my broken headphones, my broken phone.

It's easy to forget how easily disconnected I can become, one little technical error and I'm without contacts, without constantly reachable friends. It's just a minor thing, of course, easily fixed, but it's a nice reminder. I know, this season sends most people tottering toward another's hand, fingers laced together and heads nestled on shoulders, two shapes on one bed and lips that mingle, but I think I like it just as well alone. Even without headphones, or a working cell phone. Without distractions and just this, embracing this, the dreams and the thoughts and the visions and the sensations that cling to my skin.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dream Apartment

I spent much of today looking at photos of wonderful apartments and fighting the screaming ache in my stomach for somewhere better, somewhere I could call my own. It's going to be a while yet before I can afford the apartment of my dreams, but for now, I can plan and imagine and fantasize.

It'll be an airy brownstone, with brick walls and one wall that is a bookshelf, and bookshelves underneath the stairs (the stairs will be a narrow metal spiral staircase to a rooftop with a few of a skyline!). I'd have a Rococo era couch with robin's egg blue cushions and ornate gold corners, and a glass coffee with copies of Lula and The New Yorker and strange little antiques and teacups.

There will be Christmas lights strung across each wall, and clipped in between on one side will be photos and on another side, scissors and skeleton keys will hang and when it gets really windy they'll quiver and tinkle against the brick behind. Then there would be the couche so soft you'd fall into it and never want to get up with luxurious blankets
in the softest pastels.

There'd be lots of paper lamps hanging overhead and candles that flicker from end tables and shelves. There'd be a kitchen with a display of exotic teacups and wine bottles and tall dark wood stools that surround a small square dining room table.

There'd be bedroom with a fluffy bed, all white and falling into it would be like being swallowed by clouds of cotton candy. There'd be a canopy and big windows and curtains that match, usually pulled back but sometimes closed with the light just peeking through, a silken glow. There'd be a closet and a wall that consists of mirrors and a shelf with books and journals and strange little dead creatures underneath dusty glass orbs. On the walls there'd be sparse wonderful art prints and typography posters and at the foot of the bed, curled, sleeping, there will be a darling old english sheep dog named Sebastian.

For now, I'm stuck with what I have, and it could always be worse, lots worse, so I'll make do with my mini photo wall and compact closet and comfy bed until next time.

What does your dream apartment (or house) look like?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bring Your Hips

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down-When We Swam

I'm walking, I'm walking, walking to the subway station, walking to my next class, walking with coat wrapped and scarf knotted, walking with a destination and pavement blurring beneath my steady heels. And then there is this. And I'm walking with a swing in my step, a sway in my hips, a leap in each movement of the feet, and there, my shoulders are shifting of their own accord, my body twists so and so. I'm walking and it has become dancing.

Suddenly I'm dancing under a bright sun, dancing with a smile and each step on the pavement sprouts a new golden yellow flower that spills to the sky, each breath in and exhale into pretty brilliant colors, rays that spin and dazzle. With a jerk and a nod, a wink and a shrug, I'm stepping and dancing and laughing, and oh, bring your hips to me, oh oh bring your hips to me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How to Spend the Fall

+read in a park (self explainatory and wonderful)

+go for a walk! Pick one: bring a camera and take pictures of every little detail you notice, the frayed edges of a leaf, the etching on a bench, or leave your cell phone and camera at home, and walk for the clear air on your skin, the blue sky and the trees, the call of the birds and sounds of the city.

+take a class! Since you're already involved in school and learning, you might as well take it further and tackle a few subjects not on your academic calendar that you might enjoy. How about picking up a dance class, yoga, drawing, screenprinting, cooking? There are a ton of fascinating classes in subjects you might never expect and now only will you learn something new, but chances are you'll have lots of fun and make new friends, as well.

+strengthen friendships! Be it someone you haven't talked to in a while or someone interesting you'd like to get to know better. Take a chance, invite them to lunch, or an afternoon at a museum, and remember why you wanted to befriend them in the first place.

+stylize! This is probably my favorite season to dress for, and with the variable weather you've got plenty of options when using the sidewalk as a runway. I especially love cardigans and coats with bare legs and flats/Oxfords, loose scarves in tie knots over vnecks, summer dresses with tights and a jacket--instant transformation and utter loveliness.

+shop! On that note, prep for the winter ahead and play with new ideas and habits with a few new indulgences. Be it delicate or bold new necklaces, eco-friendly and elegant notebooks with fine tipped pens (I have an affinity for Muji pens and if you can get your hands on any, the Uniball Signo or Pental Hi-C, all in .38mm), luxurious bath products and lotions that you can pamper yourself with.

+go out! Not only is the weather gorgeous, but (especially if you're in the city) this is a season abundant in events and festivities, exhibit openings or extravagant parties, film screenings and concerts a plenty. Take advantage of your energy and desire to leave the house. (I swear it's not just my internship talking: TONY has got a ton of wonderful events and things to do, New Yorkers, and I hardly want to miss any of it.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Book Talk: The Rings of Saturn

W. B. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn was another title off the book recommendation list from the fine folks at Obscura. And I can see exactly why.

I've been diving into these books blind, having never heard of them, read any reviews nor even knew what the books were about. And so, I expected this (not reading the backcover very carefully, as usual) to be a novel in the traditional sense, with a narrator and a storyline and conflict and resolution. But this, this was nothing like that. It's a bit of a travelogue, imagined and real, historical and present, delving into places of such incredible beauty and strangeness, a world that becomes too wonderful to be immersed in, histories and characters that touch and flutter. To try and name them would take away the magic, this floating sense of wonder.

Reading this on subways before class, while waiting for trains on heated platforms, it took me away to these lands, and made me never want to leave. The language is delightful, and the tone is so distinctive, I could actually hear the voice and it was one I wanted to listen to. I wanted to reread pages and passages over and over again, just in case I missed a detail. It's like a tour, narrated by Seblad, whose eye and ability to capture stories and histories is simply marvelous. Recommended? Yes. And I'm even more excited to reading the rest of the books on that precious list.

Friday, October 2, 2009

On Writing, On Blogging


Public. Private. Real. Imagined. I'm born to be contrary.

The line resonates, and it does because it's true, because it embodies so much. I struggle, so much when it comes to this, blogging, writing, writing fiction, writing about my life, writing my life inside my head: living my life. It should all be the same thing, but it never is, never. In Personality there are countless theories, theories of identity and layers of consciousness and social perception and self motivation, there are experiments and beautiful ideas that just can't be true, absurd definitives, things that just sound about right but it certainly can't be right. Not really.

I haven't been blogging, as is inevitable when I get serious about a blog. I get excited about new projects very readily, and I attack it with enthusiasm, dedication. After a little while though, it loses its gloss, its glimmer. I forget--I get attached to everything else. Especially with blogs. God, I can't even remember ever single blog I've had, the topics, the angst, stemming from old livejournals and xangas in which I recounted useless details of my everyday life to a mp3 blog that just turned into an endless release of PR description, attempts at gaining more visitors and links and that whole vicious feed cycle. I started this blog because I wanted a change, something truer, something that was about the writing, the words, not marketing the next It artists. It's always about the writing, really. When I blog I write better. I'm writing for an audience, except, at the start, I didn't.

I wrote and wanted to keep it private. I write better when my words are displayed on an aesthetically matched site, I like seeing them, I like the idea of them, beautiful, published, complete for consumption.

And I am different when I write. I am different in different styles of writing, and I know, I have so many, I've played them all. There is the optimistic, sweet and inspiring blogger, there is the snarky pop culture/music critic observer, there is the serious, poetic and lyrical thought, there is the descriptive for the sake of descriptive, the anecdotal (turning my life into stories, my favorite thing in the whole world), the journalist, the novelist. And I can accomplish each, for myself, for an audience, for another site.

But it's only occasionally that I dare to write with truth, with emotion. In fiction, I can do it, I do it well, I do it because I speak for my characters, and they're not afraid to feel. But then there are things like this and this, and it's truer than most things, it's not about an image (or maybe it is, it always), it's not about an ideal. It's emotion that's too raw for me to admit. On the page, it's not me, it's a character, a character with my life, my sensibilities. But it's indescribable, you know? In Real Life I'm far from sentimental. Really far.

Just because it's writing does it make it not real? Just because it sounds more romantic on the page does it mean it couldn't have been as beautiful when it happened? The world is simply what we perceive it to be, isn't it?

So maybe it's a defense mechanism. Maybe the reality and disappointments of the world outside these letters makes me afraid to admit to anything. In this world I can create and maintain absolutely anything, but the world outside doesn't work exactly as I want it to. It's a never ending balancing act, and I wonder if I'll ever master it.

Perhaps, perhaps not. But it seems a bit silly to pretend that my other world, this inner world of thoughts and emotions that are far darker and deeper than my persistent optimism doesn't truly exist. And I suppose I wouldn't be a writer if I didn't lust after recognition, wouldn't be writing anything outside of a journal if I didn't hope for readers and connections. So I guess I shouldn't be so preoccupied, with what this blog should be or what I should feel. And stick with writing, my multiple personalities, and everything.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Things I Love Thursday

[sorry lately i've almost forgotten i have a blog]

+resolving my horrific mosquito problem (via closing the window at night god i can't believe it took me so long)
+earl grey in the morning, orange blossom white tea at night
+making to do/plans lists and crossing things off
+the sound of chalk on blackboards, pens on paper. i think i like lectures way too much for my own good.
+speaking of which: my personality class. it's just about the most interesting lecture i've ever had
+packing satisfying lunches. who knew a sandwich could be so effective?
+reading sex blogs. seriously it's the most fascinating/wonderful thing in the world to me.
+naps, even if they are over slept. a sleep deprived laura can only take so much.
+new episodes of gossip girl, mad men, and glee. they are all so utterly brilliant.
+cute foreign people on the subway. so. so. adorable in their enthusiastic attentiveness.
+smiling at strangers. i know this should be on my list all the time but especially lately, it's more noticeable and wonderful.
+the sweetest missed connection, ever.
+omg let's hyperventilate some more because i will never get enough of FALL. WEATHER.

what about you, lovely readers? it's nearly the weekend and what little (or big) things are bringing you big big smiles?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Are Swans Deceiving Us All?


Camera Obscura-Swans

Sometimes it's a photo, sometimes it's a song. Sometimes it's just that one line (but I'm not afraid to have an eloquent boy at my door.) It's hard to explain, exactly, just that it's a sudden reminder, shocked awake by images and senses of a world that just can't exist.

See, to describe it, capture it, is nearly impossible. But it's this song, played a hundred times, and the enthusiasm that dazzles from its opening lines, the dance and smile that it requires, but then: no surprises in the record collection, you must have thought I was someone else. As with any Camera Obscura song, sentimentalism, loss and a heart tender and offered on pretty melodies and Tracyanne's voice, that hint of mournful regret, dripping from this seemingly cheerful clash of instruments and delight. But it's not, just the song, because it never is just the song.

It's the way she sings, so you wanted to be a writer, fantastic idea, that half sweet, half mocking tease in her last words. It's the refrain: a deer, a deer, a deer, my dear. My dear. It's that world I so desperately strive for, the one captured on film, clothes that drape just right, soft slouchy cotton and faded colors, faces that mirror my own. Books in clever stacks on just right carpets, oh why can't it be real! Sitting on swings and watching trees overhead, front porches with stories that play out in front of your eyes, this unattainable notion of...what? I wish I knew. I wish I could touch it and hold it and tuck it in my pocket.

For now I'll settle for this song. And the silken pockets, soft hair and hidden smiles it reassures. Fantastic idea.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Things I Love Thursday


+my classes! French, despite being at 8am every day (mon professeur est tres beau et de le Su├Ęde!), American Lit just reminds me of why exactly I attend university, the seemingly intellectual high ground of "literature" (spoken in a faux snobby British accent ala my animated professor), Personality is supposed to be one of the most challenging and interesting courses in the department, and my Creative Writing workshop is filled with fun people, good writers and insightful feedback.
+enthusiastic run-ins with old friends & classmates (even better if they happen to be in my class)
+museum day trips-PS1 has wonderful exhibits and the trip itself is an adventure, and even if only two floors of exhibits are open, a trip to the Guggenheim always makes me smile
+cardigan weather! (bare legs + light sweaters=♥), curled lashes and red lips (instant glamour for minimum effort!), cat hat, "twee" as a nickname, having friends with friends who are bartenders, brownstones, late nights & stomping in heels, Earl Grey and breakfast on too early mornings, art & characters so distinctively "east village," sharpie sketched portraits, cupcakes + macaroons, all you lovely folks who made it to the picnic (sorry I won't be late next time!), upcoming plans and aspirations.

Gosh, I love fall. Et vous, mon jolie lecteurs? What are you delighted about this darling season?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book Talk: Underworld

(I was reading through my old blog for one thing or another and came upon all my Book Talks, mini-book reviews of every book I'd finished, and it's such a wonderful idea that I have no idea why I stopped doing it. So here's for picking it back up again.)

It is no well kept secret that I made it through Infinite Jest this summer (although I guess it shouldn't be considered properly finishing it since I skipped the footnotes...I know, I know, but I hate flipping back and forth and I've read enough DFW footnotes to know what an ordeal/extraordinary treat that would have been and the book is still over a thousand pages sans footnotes, so I'll give them more consideration second time around, okay?) Although this was enough of an accomplishment on its own, perhaps just as much of a challenge to me was the fact that undertaking this massive reading project meant I couldn't (or at least, shouldn't) start reading new books for quite a while. And there are few things I love more than diving into a brilliant novel I've yet to discover.

This became especially painful when I paid a visit to my favorite shop in the East Village, Obscura (Antiques and Oddities) and spent a few hours chatting with the shopkeeper and a frequent visitor about favorite books and authors. They offered suggestions that filled up a few pages in my mini-Moleskin ripoff, and hearing about how marvelous all these other works were supposed to be made me itch for a new start.

I was good, though, and worked through the brilliant, dizzying epic that is Infinite Jest before I embarked on classics like Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. Which, although poetic and atmospheric and much, much shorter, still didn't quite feel satisfying enough to the part of me that thirsted for reading that wasn't so impossibly dense or impossibly far fetched. That brings us to Don DeLillo's (arguable) masterpiece, Underworld.

This is a book that the regular in Obscura had hyped so much, as one of his favorite books, and given that all his other recommendations/our mutual favorites were of the most impeccable taste, plus I'd already heard much about the book, plus I'd read DeLillo before and loved it, I couldn't believe my luck when I found a paperback of its 800 something pages on one of New York's many sidewalk used book stands. I brought it home and counted down the days until I could start devouring it, even if it meant another commitment to a novel the size of two or three normal ones.

And oh, boys and girls of the jury, what a perfect commitment!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Love: Abby Try Again

Abby captures a stunning beauty in the simplest of things. A streak of sunlight across scattered flowers, delicate fabrics and clothes in a picturesque line...her work is delightful and sweet, optimistic and charming with a timeless quality. A lovely existence that I can only dream of...check out some of her wonderful work and hear her love affair with film, her successful print shop, advice for aspiring photographers and a glimpse into the life of abbytrysagain.

When did you start taking photographs?
I've been taking photos my whole life, not necessarily good ones, but I've always been interested in journaling and documenting. I started sharing those in 2005 when I started blogging but feel like I didn't get serious about it until a few years ago.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dreaming of Fall


September! The breath of crisp cool air in the mornings, a not yet bitter gold sun, the promise of orange leaves and crunchy trails, the beginnings of wrapped sweaters and knotted scarves. Fall, one of my favorite seasons, with its promise of new beginnings and routines, classes and hurried faces, cheeks flushed and eyes bright, side stepping eager freshman, long lines for textbooks and lunches. It's a season (and month) worthy of celebration, of smiles that don't fade and bubbling anticipation. But it too is that hint of sadness, the summer slipped away between chlorine scented swimming pools, sand plastered in between toes and clinging like glitter on naked calves. Memories and long late nights, lazy days washed away with the flurry of activity that new beginnings bring.

Oh, let's remember it, summer. Those sticky hot days hiding in air conditioned coffee shops and bookstores, lunch in the shade with the occasional welcome splatter from the Washington Square fountain. Rooftops with a postcard view, long train rides and reading big books, ice clinking in countless cups of water, cold showers splashing relief. Conversations and faces that last for a starless New York night, cups of this and that translated into enthusiasm for friends I'll hardly see again. How even endless time seems like not enough, or maybe too much, episodes of long lasting TV shows counting down the hours until some other escape. Summer with its boredom and repetition, with its unexpected surprises and tinted memories..

But if you believe the spiritualists (and maybe you should), change brings energy, and I welcome energy with unabashed happiness. Imagine it, change! The switches not only in habits but moods, places and paces. Alarm clocks and schedules, weekend escapes and sleeping in, a luxury again. There's something about the start of a new school semester, despite years and years of the same new start that, still, refreshes, invigorates, inspires. To do lists crossed off and plans scribbled in. Fresh notebooks with pressed pages and the sound of ink pen tips scratching against paper. Stacks of books that encourage an academic yearning, lectures with sleep deprived classmates and impatient sighs.

I can't think of it enough. I can't wait another day (even if the break will seem sacred, necessary once things really start off). And I can't think of a better way to celebrate it than a proper picnic in the park. Oh, do join me, Central Park pond, tomorrow Wednesday the 2nd of this lovely month. Bring sweets and delights and friends and spend an evening in this beautiful weather. Come dressed up and have a decadent time. (6pm, Central Park South at 59th between 5th and 6th ave, email me if you need further info/a number to call!)

And regardless of whether you can make it, how are you spending your end of summer/start of this perfect season?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Things I Love Thursday

+marvelous music--I haven't been able to stop listening to the (new) Taken By Trees, Girls or Rural Alberta Advantage.
+the Pacific! I never thought I say this but, sometimes there's nothing like spending a day at beach. Even if it does mean sand in my shoes and the frightening San Diego sun.
+baby boba--I guess this is what happens when bubble tea runs out of regular tapioca. But baby boba, aside from having an adorable name, are pretty adorable to eat/drink as well.
+long scenic bus rides
+reading in the grass-this pretty much never ever gets old
+discovering forgotten bits and pieces in my room
+time zones! Thanks to the three hour difference, I now go to bed and wake up at the most perfectly acceptable of times.
+racy conversations
+std fury-rarely does a semi educational song about stds sound so absurd and hilarious and catchy.
+these pointy yellow flats. A gift from Gigi and I've forgotten all about them until I came home. Now they might be my new favorite shoes ever. (Although I probably take pictures of them too much)

And what about you my darling readers? What's got you bubbly and smiling this week?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

La Jolla

There's nothing like the beauty of the Pacific...sorry East coast ocean, this is one area where you can't compare. Louise and I spend the afternoon at the beach, and her stories of her time in Europe made my heart throb to be abroad. Soon, soon!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Do You Keep a Diary?

Reading old diaries. It's a become a ritual, especially on the occasions I'm infrequently home, or late nights filled with an emptiness, where nothing else seems to matter. So, I turn to the past. Retrospective and reminiscing, the silliness of an old version of myself, many old versions in colorful sizes and formats. There's the pink Juicy Couture journal, with its thick gold embossed pages holding all the secrets of my first real romance. There's the interchangeable slew of cute Asian notebooks with broken English and adorable designs. There are the trusty moleskins, with cramped writing crawling up the pages with endless aspirations, fears and stories and stories.

Stacks and stacks of notebooks (my love of stationery probably doesn't help this quick turnover rate of angsty journals) with days, months and years of life fitted inside. Each revisit of these old stories is quite a different feeling. There is relief, of course, that I'm no longer the trapped, fearful, naive girl I once was. That I'm no longer undergoing the hell that was high school, San Diego. There is a sense of bitter-sweet nostalgia. Those stories of the past meant so much at the time, after all. And then there is this inescapable fluttering sense of loss.

Like the joy that used to come with every little experience, every night spent away from home, every day in some familiar but far off destination. Or the simple happiness that rushed in after finishing a horrible school assignment, the butterflies from a glance of a crush. It was so painfully complex, but now complicated is the expected, simplicity is impossible.

Perhaps this is how it's meant to be, this evolution, this habituation, so that the little things that used to inspire blissful exhilaration now, at most, inspires a small smile, or some resigned acceptance. And always, striving for something greater, bigger, some adventure and excitement that exceeds the past, some explosive surreal dream that turns my life into another fantasy.

Someday this pile of notebooks and journals will turn into a massive box of them, pages and pages of daily life, endless pages in scrawling handwriting telling stories that I can't tell, feelings I no longer remember, faces I've long lost. For now they remind me of the incredible changes that occur in just a year, six months, a summer. And I wonder how much more can possibly happen in just a week, a month, a year.

The blank pages ahead voice their excitement.

Do you keep a journal? Read diaries of years past?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Love: keepcalmcarryon

Sundays are a good day to bask in the delight of things that are ever so lovely and inspiring. Since I have a thing for themed days, every Sunday I'll feature a photographer, blog, website or project that makes me smile, and might do the same for you on in a lazy sunny afternoon. Today, the lovely work of Sophie.




Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things I Love Thursday

1. 2. 3. 4.

+my overwhelming, brimming explosive optimism, mostly
+long drives and a perfect soundtrack
+frozen yogurt that taste like ice cream
+perfect weather, naturally!
+full time daydreaming that somehow becomes easier when I'm home!
+delicious fresh baked pastries from a famous bakery
+Don Delillo's Underworld--yes I know, another massive undertaking after Infinite Jest (but hey, I read a Virginia Woolf book in between!), but it is so beautiful in that squalor of New York way and absolutely brilliant.
+reminiscing about old friends and old adventures
+bliss vanilla+bergamot bubbling shower gel. gosh it is the best thing ever and smells/feels delicious

I think most of my TILT has happened in my last post, but please do share what has you happy and smiling this wonderful week. xoxo

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

San Diego

I've forgotten, the perfect clear blue skies and streams of golden sunlight, the quiet streets and the neighbors who say "hello" when they pass by.

I've forgotten the mall, and its visitors, empty, normal, happy.

I forgot about blisters that can be fixed simply by walking home, long days stretched into books and tv and movies, walks and falling into daydreams and memories.

It's a lot easier to live in my mind back home, even in the two days that I've been here. I feel like a different person (I am!) and no longer, intimidated by snobby store clerks, or uncomfortable to lie down in the grass to read. I don't miss new york yet, but I think that is a good thing. I'm planning on a bit of exploring even while I'm here, and I think it'll be lovely (despite being told off for taking pictures of the mall's exterior because I needed a permit!!)

In the meantime, I think I might be allergic to my house and should probably try to be elsewhere. xoxo

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You're Still the One Pool Where I'd Happily Drown

photo via

Last night, in an aeroplane over the US, I watched the sunset soaked in the horizon stay with its painted lines of red and orange even late into the night. And when it approached California, and I could see the cities sprawled out below, lights twinkling like another set of stars, colorful and scattered and blinking, and real stars too, I've forgotten how much I missed those, silver studs in a dark sky, this surge of optimism and anticipation grew inside of me, bubbling and sizzling until it became absurd, and I was giddy with the promise of a few hours, a few days, a few weeks and months from now. This hope that felt so sure, so within reach I could taste it on my tongue, feel it in my palm, so brilliant and wonderful and unexpected I thought I'd explode.

It's a bit inexplicable, this, but wonderful. My mind is filled with all the beauty of everything, and the F U T U R E in glittering neon letters in front of me, of fall and cold cold weather (for oh oh, being stuck in my room without air conditioning, without a fan, in 93 degree weather nearly killed me, gave me headaches and dizziness and forced me to seek escape elsewhere), coats and boots and scarves and hats with big bows, of classes and reading and writing essays, yes, yes staying up late writing essays! How I miss it, how I miss the panicked skimming of assigned readings I've skipped, cups and cups of tea and music to try to get me to focus, watching the page count finally reach its end, editing and thinking and writing and thinking.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Want Life in Every Word to the Extent That It's Absurd

photo via

I don't really believe it either.

But it's true, and if you allow yourself that one moment where your cynicism hides, allow yourself a tingle of hope, an openness to try something new because, well, what's the worst thing that could happen? It's worth a try. Because, suspend disbelief for just a minute, dreams do come true.

Oh, I know, I know. It sounds ridiculous. She's out of her mind, reciting trite cliches without any idea of what reality is, the harsh ruins and disappointments and failures of it, it's not all pastels and bright light and soft dresses and cute girls with bangs. Glitz and glamor and how it is in the movies, it doesn't happen like that.

Don't I know. All the heartbreak and unexpected twists and things that did come out of a movie, but not in scripted beauty but in absurdity, and not always at all in a good way. But suspend that for a moment, won't you? Just for a moment. I know all about that just as well. But I know about this too.

This, if you will yourself to believe it. Close your eyes and feel it, whatever it is that you're desperately after. Is it a job, a boy, an escape? Can you see the skyline glittering in the distance, feel the gum studded pavements beneath your steps, the strangers and sights you'll be immersed in? Can you feel his touch on your skin, his lips against yours, the fluttering sensations of your heart, the butterfly heartbeats that encircle you, the smile that'll light up your face when you're together? Can you touch the worlds outside of this one, the dazzling terrains, the little details like footprints on the sand, the drifting of clouds in an unfamiliar sky, a foreign tongue, an exotic adventure?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Things I Love Thursday


+Long walks. Down Broadway from Columbia (116th street) to NYU (8th street), with the glamor of NYC as it is in the movies, skyscrapers and glass buildings, tourists milling the streets in all the classic spots. Walking across the Williamsburg bridge into Manhattan, with the city approaching the whole time, the smiles of cyclists and passerbys, graffiti on the walkway, the perfect breeze, finally to the Lower East Side and a favorite cupcake shop, strawberry cheesecake cupcake and leaving hearts in the tip jar.

+Surprisingly cool, cloudy and rainy weather after the unbearable heat of the past few days, getting my first roll of film developed, the musical cooing of pigeons, the creak of metal swings, the soaked aftermath of pavement after rain, walking familiar streets in the deserted night, watching a drunken couple, the man stumbling to block a taxi in the street to propose, announcing his love to the four passerbys and the taxi driver (when the car behind it honked in frustration, to them, it was celebratory), the glow of white orbs of streetlamps in the park

+An older man in a business suit, eating a chocolate ice cream cone and throwing nuts toward squirrels, and the squirrels scrambling to bury them in piles of dirt hideaways, late night encounters in the subway, graffiti and sentiments scrawled on walls, walkways, posters, smiling at strangers (& smiles in response), ridiculous Japanese movies (has anyone seen Suicide Club?) , spending whole days away from home, people watching after shows, falling into the comfort of the bed and sheets and covers after a shower, sitting on stoops writing & watching the rain, ridiculous religious signs, making mixes again

+The promise of nearing the end of summer. I adored it, most of it, its adventures and surprises and marvels and beauty, but I'm ready for a change too. And a change will be just that. I'm flying home on Monday and by the time I return there will be hardly time before school starts again. And I am anticipating the fall like few other things.

And what is making you happy and warm (or cool in the summer heat) this week?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Yesterday I finally got my first roll of film developed, and some of it turned out surprisingly lovely, and brought back quite a few fond memories. I really like the anticipation of a roll of film and remembering what exactly I shot, and it'll be nice to start balancing both film and digital for future endeavors. My next roll is 36 exposure, and having seen this I can probably play with subjects and framing a bit more. But even this, even now, reminds me of countless adventures in the city. And that is never a bad thing.
A few of my favorite things: birthday roses, my latest novel, and my dear, darling D40.
Once upon a time, Rachel and I had grand plans to see Shakespeare in the Park, and got up at five in the morning to wait in line. We never got the tickets, naturally, but at least we waited most of the time by the loveliest view.
From Luis, Rommie and my photoshoot. Rommie starring in trashy American Apparel ad, apparently.