fashion: bad at doing it, good at loving it – part five

Somehow I came across Polyvore four years ago. I joined, tried it and wasn’t very good at it, and mostly forgot about it as a social site or a creative site and just used it a couple times a year if I was looking to buy something. It’s really useful for shopping for something in particular, whether it’s an exact product or if you’re just looking for “light green scarf with fringe” or “cotton/poly leopard print blouse” or something else super specific because you have your reasons. Anyway, it’s great, especially when you are on a crusade to be grown up and have a set style and a decent, career-appropriate wardrobe like me, because you can rip things out of magazines, paste them into a journal, and also look up the exact things on Polyvore, where you can find out where you can buy them and (I think) sign up for sale notifications. Wins all around.

Image representing Polyvore as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

But really, Polyvore is this vibrant place where people who are really into fashion and makeup and interior design and also have an eye for it (i.e. not me, but I love swooning over it) can make “sets” that are like virtual collages of products, magazine cutouts, words, music, etc. They’re pretty brilliant, and there are a lot of people who are fucking amazing at it. You can get lost forever and wonder how some people just have an eye for the layering of items and laying out of items and on and on. I am jealous. Really.

As you can see, I did not quite get that the point was to saturate your set with things, not just make a really simple outfit. Continue reading

quien ama la música ama la vida

I miss music. My stint in the Simmons a cappella group didn’t last long, and I really miss choir from college. But strangely, what I miss most is piano. It was my first instrument, but once I discovered that I could sing and that I loved it, I started thinking of it as secondary. And given that I’ve always had a problem with accompanying myself and singing at the same time (I have relative perfect pitch; rhythm is something I’m not awful at but have to actually actively apply my cognition to), I’ve sadly never been able to realize my dreams of being a YouTube-discovered indie piano pop superstar à la Ingrid Michaelson. (By the way, taking suggestions for activities to improve that cognitive skill, or for books that explain how it works and how I can get better.)

Missing music is kind of a crutch and a cop-out, though, because between crit/scholarly stuff, creative writing, and music, they’re always at odds with each other for position as my NUMBERONEFAVORITETHINGFOREVERANDEVERAMEN, and generally I am always required to be working on one, desiring to be working on another, and then missing the third and thinking that my life would be perfect if only I could be doing that instead. I have to do school, and the write-a-thon (plus my new writing stint that I will be starting soon at Paper Droids and some guest posts at other blogs coming up) says that I should be writing (as should my jealousy of how many friends of mine are getting published before I am), so of course I want music. And there’s absolutely no possibility for balance between the three right now, because my life just doesn’t have that kind of leeway in it. Continue reading

how my to-read list works

Until Twitter, Goodreads was probably the social networking website I adapted to (and thus made indispensible to my life) most quickly. My senior year of high school, my friend sent me an invite, and within maybe six months, I was updating obsessively and in great detail. Now, GoodReads is my best friend and my favorite social site. Though I hate being so attached to an Internet thing, I do credit it with making me feel a lot of obligation and guilt if I am not reading consistently and with critical thought and reflection, and that can only be good for my brain.

That said, like I said in my post for 50/50 Me, things on the Internet have the tendency to make me want to know something about everything, and the subjects I am interested in reading about grow at a much faster rate than I read—and that’s saying something, because I have trained myself to read, with understanding and engagement, rather quickly. (Practice makes perfect, right?) So my to-read list grows very quickly, and I have a difficult time deleting books from it, for a variety of reasons.

1. If I added it to my to-read list, something made me want to read it, and usually my memory works in such a way that seeing the title or cover will trigger a conversation with a teacher who recommended the author or an article I read that was inspired by a collection of poems, or whatever. I think I owe it to my memory to at least keep it on the list, in the hopes that someday I might get to it. Continue reading

i’m inspired!

I read a lot of books, period, and lately I read a lot of food books. So I don’t think I’m being too cavalier when I say that this is the BEST food book I’ve read all year. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School (Kathleen Flinn) is a memoir cum cookbook that is just like taking cooking lessons without paying the exorbitant fees, and without being the awkward, food allergy-challenged person in the room.

I do not lie. First of all, Flinn is just really good at putting together a narrative, so the book is highly readable. That’s why it functions so well as a lesson, too–she’s a good teacher, well trained, who knows how to put together a lesson so that it’s engaging and understandable. The book follows her and her friend as they find nine women (not all female on purpose, but interesting sociologically nonetheless) and take it upon themselves to teach them to cook. And so they do, focusing each lesson on things that real people actually want to eat, are capable of cooking, and can afford to eat regularly, such as chicken and bread. Turning each lesson into a narrative chapter, Flinn offers you a lesson, too, not to mention teaches you things about the US food system, the economics of cooking and buying groceries, and tricks to understanding how to use spices and herbs. I now understand that “flavor profile” isn’t just a pretentious chef word but also something that will make my own cooking more interesting and more cohesive. Continue reading

everything’s archie, except not

I’m in the middle of reading a fabulous book, The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem. I already can’t wait to finish it so that I can write my review, but I also don’t want it to stop, so I keep putting it down and picking up magazines or Anthony Bourdain memoirs (un-put-down-able, really) every few pages. Right now Lethem’s riffing on comic books, a topic which usually bores me, because I’ve never cared about superheroes. I didn’t read comics as a kid, nor do I read them now, and I’ve only seen two or three superhero movies in the last ten years. Actually, no, I can count them. Four. The first two Spider-man reboots, and the Christian Bale Batman movies, because, well, it’s Christian Fucking Bale.

So I was sitting on the T thinking while reading, and then I remembered that I actually spent two or three years really into one comic book series (technically it’s like twelve different series, but they’re all the same): Archie. My best friend in elementary school and I were going to the pumpkin patch with her moms, and since it was a long drive to Willcox, she handed me a comic book (I’m still wondering why I hadn’t brought a book of my own–that’s so unlike me, even eight-year-old me). I was a little confused, because I had never even read the Sunday newspaper comics, but after I accustomed myself to reading panels instead of prose, I was fairly hooked.

It’s not that big of a stretch, I guess. It was about teenagers, oooh, exotic! And they did quaint, small town things like ride bicycles without getting hit by cars and went to the Chocklit Shoppe after school. Basically it was all my dreams of Americana life wrapped into convenient sitcom characters who never evolved. Comics, I’m realizing, are like television, and actually, that may be why I was drawn to them. Either that, or reading Archie so much drew me to television and movie writing as that secret thing I want to do more than public library service and literacy. But, err, I still really want to do that, and I’m not dropping out of school. K? Continue reading