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In Preparation for 35

3 Jul

Something about turning 35 in the fall—and something about having a kid all my own (she’s also my husband’s, I suppose)—has compelled me to put a lot more thought into my well-being, which I’ve managed to neglect pretty much since I could think for myself. I’ve ingested disgusting amounts of fast food, copious amounts of sugar, excess caffeine, over-the-counter medicine, and slathered on toxic makeup since I was about 13 . . . the list of offenses is endless, really.

My dad, bless him, allowed me to repeatedly order and eat 20-piece boxes of Chicken McNuggets in my tween years—and I could inhale a box in about 10 minutes.

As far as wastefulness, well jeez. As a household, we’re working on the waste—but as long as you eat on the go or don’t prepare everything from scratch—and by “scratch,” I mean items that don’t come in any packaging whatsoever—there will be waste. Our main bin and recycling bin aren’t overflowing each week, but it would be wonderful to shop mostly at the farmers market and wean ourselves off of prepackaged food, even if it is Trader Joe’s.

Little by little, I’m trying to turn things around to look my best as I enter my forties and beyond, but more importantly, feel my best. I also yearn to set a good example for my little darling in hopes of making her a conscientious little citizen.

The revelation began with the documentary No Impact Man about New York writer Colin Beavan, his journalist wife Michelle Conlin, and their ridiculously cute daughter, Isabella. Seriously, if you’ve no interest in environmental discourse whatsoever, watch the film for Isabella.

To die for, right?

The documentary came out a couple years ago, but if you aren’t familiar with Colin Beavan’s project, his goal was to essentially reduce his family’s environmental footprint to nil over the course of a year. As the Beavans discuss in the documentary, the public’s reception to the mission was lukewarm. The documentary received loads of press aside equal parts, if not more, criticism. What about the fact that Michelle Conlin writes for Business Week, a periodical whose production kills forests full of trees? It’s unrealistic—who would ever be able to live without so much? It’s a publicity stunt . . . on and on. And you know what? All these people have points. Absolutely. But I understand what Conlin was attempting to do: (a) raise awareness of the things people could do to lessen their impact on the environment if they so desired (as well as raise awareness of himself as a writer, but hey, we all have to make a living—especially writers!) and (b) show the uneducated masses ways that a Fifth Avenue-dwelling family used to all the trappings of New York life managed to do with less. Most importantly, I enjoyed learning the ways that scaling back contributed to more quality time with their daughter, weight loss, overall better health, and greater peace of mind. I related most to Michelle, a self-professed shop- and crap-TV-aholic with a penchant for Starbucks. She survived. I could survive, too.

I’m so into trying to be okay with less right now. Some of it is forced, given the way the economic situation has affected our family, but I want to feel good about it in my heart of hearts.

Another source of inspiration has been Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet. My husband decided about a month-and-a-half ago that he was finished with meat, and hasn’t touched it since. We both were vegetarian years ago, but somehow filet mignon made its way back into our lives. I hadn’t felt swayed any which way as far as meat-eating was concerned, but given the almost-35 thing, I have been cognizant about my sugar, fat, sodium, and caffeine intake, and have been a little worried about it, to be honest. I haven’t had a physical in years, but I’m betting my cholesterol is getting up there, if it isn’t there already. Sensing that I needed to start eating in a more wholesome manner—and learn how to make my daughter enjoy eating things that are good for her—I put The Kind Diet on hold at the library and have been fixated on its content ever since. The idea that whole grains, beans, and vegetables will make me feel full, reverse bad things happening in my body, and perhaps correct my skin (yay!) appeals, obviously. And I don’t want to go on a Meat is Murder rant, but for the first time, I was moved toward vegetarianism for the sake of the animals.

Will it satisfy? I don’t know. While my husband attempts to master the whole vegan shebang, I will embrace the “Flirting” chapter and take baby steps. I hope I like it. I doubt I’ll evolve into a health nut (not that there’s anything wrong with it!), and I don’t need to start wearing hemp shoes or anything, but I’m fairly certain the inner workings of my body have been on a roller coaster ride, and I know my crappy diet is to blame.

Probably more in this vein to come.

Post-first-vegan-dinner edit: Fried udon noodles with cabbage, garlic, paprika, onions and some other stuff. We forgot to purchase broccoli and mushrooms to go in it like we intended! At any rate, it was tasty, with a lingering spiciness. Not exactly In ’n’ Out tasty, but seriously—even though I want tasty, I’m not willing to eat a burger for it at this point. If anyone has delectable veg/vegan dishes, send them on over!

Velvet Summer

24 Jun

I was attempting to compile a bunch of fashion photos to help me sort out my summer look, which at the beginning of the season I vowed would be something that represented the titles NewRo Summer or Velvet Summer. I don’t really do summer in a  sundress/shorts/barely-there clothing kind of way. My gams don’t really have it, you see, so I must cover them. Anymore, this tends to result in jeans and various tops—with a cute pair of shoes on a good day—maybe. Still rather dull. Very dull—who am I kidding? I do accept that I will swelter in these parts, but not as much as when I was in my Levi’s Sta-Prest and polyester 511 phase. Oh dear me. There’s nothing like sweaty legs enveloped in non-breathable polyester to make you feel sexy in the dead of summer.

So, anyhow . . . I was trying to sort out a post that would help me wrap my head around enjoying summer fashionably without going the shorts and dresses route, but, unfortunately, a stylist I am not. The task grew tedious about ten minutes in, not helped by the fact that my computer is running unbelievably slow. I do feel as though I’m dialing up on a 24.4 connection, which actually makes me a bit nostalgic—but enough of that for now!

What I did find, though, was this post by The Cherry Blossom Girl which reminded me of how I would do summer if I had all the right clothes and slightly better legs. The vibe of it all is precisely what I’m going for. And yes, if I actually had girlfriends, no toddler/stepchildren, and if my husband were away and would ever give me his blessing to break free from our wannabe mid-century modern look for something more Gothic and/or romantic, a night like this with all the trappings would be a night of bliss. Of course the shoot didn’t take place in summer but at Christmastime. It figures I would be so into it. I see absolutely nothing wrong with black lace, candlelight, and frill for summer, though. Now I just have to get out of my Rufus Wainwright T-shirt and try a little harder.

Some highlights from the post:

Some other not-very-summery idears:

Love the idea of blouses all summer long—wouldn’t love steaming them, though. Photo © HopelesslyDevoted on Etsy

Sound of the Crowd

10 Jun

If, in 1981, I were 19 and not 6, NewRo/Blitz Kids so would’ve been my bag. God knows I would’ve been more than eager to pair the silver-blue eyeshadow with deep mauve blush and glossy red lips. Why, I was partial to that in the mid-nineties, save for the cheek stripes. And I’ve always managed to get a bit of fringe in my eyes—and I love frilly black numbers. And it was Nick Rhodes’ photo I hung up in my room at about age 8. “He’s wearing makeup!” my mom said, mouth agape. “I think it’s pretty!” retorted the little girl with the shiny teddy bear on her sweatshirt.

My husband, who actually lived through the movement as a teen, although he was a Mod, asked me last night when I was making him listen to Dare! in what way the music moved me. Born and bred on guitar-driven music, he has difficulty understanding how anything involving a synthesizer could possibly work its way into one’s soul. And I suppose I can see his point. I responded by saying that perhaps Human League, specifically, doesn’t move me emotionally in the way that other synth-based bands—say Depeche Mode—did when I was younger. I mean “Little 15”? C’mon! Tears!

Human League (as well as various other bands of the genre) does send me a bit into fantasist mode. I imagine myself all painted to perfection, wearing a little pillbox hat with a tiny veil, some sort of corset dress and fishnets—and dancing in front of a slip of a young man with asymmetrical hair wearing a pirate shirt and some impossibly narrow trousers tucked into high boots. And I’d twirl the night away, stopping only to wing my eyeliner just a bit more or re-line my pout. It’s all very superficial, I know; but that was the scene, wasn’t it? The last gasp for real glam after punk had made its way into the world.

I recently bothered to read the captions in the great pictorial *Duran Duran Unseen, and I grew more convinced that I would’ve had tons of fun and fit right in with that heavily eyelined set. I wasn’t as drawn to, nor was I willing to immerse myself in similar scenes that were still hanging on throughout the nineties. Goth would’ve been the closest, but they weren’t visually appealing enough. Although I liked some goth music and definitely had my share of goth friends, it always bothered me that it was nearly impossible to find the actual person hidden beneath all that garb and swirly black makeup. With the NewRo thing, you could go way out (Boy George), or, as a girl, especially, you could actually look pretty, but in a Nagel painting kind of way. Unfortunately for me, the most extreme look I embraced in the nineties was grunge: some thermal leggings under my holey jean shorts with my boyfriend’s flannel over a t-shirt. Oh, and some Docs, of course. Just lovely.

Back to explaining why the synth music of that period moves me. I liken it to music for a dark party, so to speak. It’s punk meets disco, and it’s ridiculously fun to dance to without being the stuff of frat parties (although I seem to recall hearing “Don’t You Want Me” following Dave Matthews Band at more than one frat party in college). And who doesn’t like a dark party where everyone’s dressed up and made up to the nines?

For more Blitz Kids/’80s fare, this is the place you really want to go.

*Seriously the best Duran photos I’ve ever seen.

(I have to confess that this entry is lifted from of one of my other blogs. So if you happened to have caught that one [doubt it!], don’t worry—I’m plagiarizing myself.)

Charles Phoenix

7 Jun

Charles Phoenix is an American treasure in that he treasures Americana—the good, the kitschy, and the downright absurd. I haven’t read every last bit of his work, but it ranges from enjoyably easy-to-read historical non-fiction (Southern California in the ’50s: Fun, Sun and Fantasy [2001] is a fine example) to blogs about an old photo of a leopard print-wearing lady whooping it up with two monkeys (and no, not like that).

See? No monkey business here. Photo © CharlesPhoenix.com

What I really feel as though I’ve missed out on are his live shows. I mean, who better to take the masses back to the yesteryear of Disneyland than Mr. Phoenix? He’s doing just that this summer.

The Lost Mouseketeer

I know he probably doesn’t need plugs at this point in his career. He was on Martha Stewart, after all. But the care he takes in telling stories about found photographs and slides isn’t only hilarious—it’s helping keep the Wonder Years alive in this era in which everything is digitized, given a half-second’s attention, and deleted with a swift flick of the wrist. Sure, he’s usually making fun of the people in the photos, most of whom he never knew, but he’s giving them voices, showing  a glimpse of the life the way they lived it, and paying homage to simpler, less harried times.

Do check him out!

An Aesthetic Feast

6 Jun

If I can remember right, I was searching for old photos of Anna Karina, the most darling of darlings, when I happened upon a young Canadian girl’s Flickr account. Obviously an ardent Anna Karina fan, she also resembles her, as evidenced by her many photos in which she exhibits her sartorial prowess and devotion to the days of yore. (I hope it isn’t too creepy that I admitted to scanning some of her photos. EDIT: Oh my word, I just realized I wrote “scanning.” I didn’t mean scanning; I meant skimming through, perusing . . . I’m not scary, honestly!)

Somehow, I stumbled upon her again recently, via the blog circuit, and was delighted to find that she’s continuing to show the world her wonderfully demure ensembles—and has added video blogging to her online offerings. Here’s a pretty great 1960s Mod eye makeup tutorial. I like that she manages to make a look that could be undeniably costume-y modern.

Apparently she has a decent following, given that she answers reader questions posted to her Formspring account. Her take on courteous blogging and writing sincerely is right on, in my opinion. It’s heartening to see early twentysomethings interested in foreign film and decades past and other quality topics. Actually, I know of plenty twentysomethings of the same ilk; it’s the teens I worry about. And with that, I vow to not sound so flippin’ old for the rest of the day!