Monthly Archives

January 2009

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The Perfect Valentine’s Gift

Forget obnoxious red cards or big boxes of chocolates. If you really want to win my heart this Valentine’s Day, all you have to do is buy me one of these prints, or all of them. I love art, and I love that I can display this art year-round without feeling like a lunatic cheeseball. (You can still get me some chocolate, too, on the side. Wink, wink.)

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4-Ever Print by Silhouette Blue (Customizable with you and your sweetheart’s initials)

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Seven-Year Itch, Or How My Novel Needed Time to Age

You're Just My Type

“You’ve only been working on that novel for how many years? Are you ever going to finish?” Husband was incredulous.

What he didn’t realize is that, yes, I wrote the first draft of my first novel, “Groupie,” in 2002, but I haven’t been working on it ever since! C’mon! Give me a little credit. I’m meticulous, not insane.

The time line goes as follows: I revised it in early 2003. I sent out multiple queries and received just as many rejections. Life and work intervened. When I sat down to write in the interim years, I wrote short stories and rough chapters of new novels. Something never sat right with me, though. I’m the type of person who likes to complete things. With my visions of a published “Groupie” unfulfilled, I haven’t been able to give full focus to any other project. A few months ago, enough time had passed for me to dust off the manuscript and re-read it.

Oh, boy, did it need work.

Fast forward to now. I’ve been gutting this thing like a fish and changing things that just didn’t work. It’s true what they say: a little perspective and a lot of life experience can better your writing. I’m not going to venture a guess at when I’ll be done because I’m not writing for speed; I’m writing to get the story right. How’s that for a novel writing tip?

That being said, it’s been seven years since I started the novel, but I’ve only spent a grand total of six months actively working on it! So I stick my tongue out at you, Husband, but I will accept your challenge and finish this beast; hopefully it won’t take me another seven years.

Aqua Net Lives!

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I can’t believe it! The sticky spray supreme I used in junior high to craft my windmill bangs, aka mall bangs, is still being sold at a Target store near you (fourth shelf up, center stage). I was under the mistaken impression that the aeresol hairspray went the way of the dinosaur around the time of the Rachel haircut. Maybe this was just wishful thinking after several years of teasing my poor tresses to the sky and shocking them into submission with the 99-cent goo in a can.

It has to be said that Google Images is woefully unstocked with awesome photos from the 1980s of mall bangs and the like. The best I could do was Madonna here, but really? There were so many better examples of mall bangs roaming the halls of schools across America in the years 1986-1993. Surely not all photographic evidence has been lost.

My (Highly Subjective) Interpretations of Songs About Los Angeles

Palm Sunday

You know how you notice when places are mentioned in a song you like, and you kinda nod, like, “Oh, yeah. Another song about New York.” Well, there’s a totally different sense of recognition if you actually live in the place mentioned. I swear that songs I’ve been listening to for years finally made sense when I moved to Los Angeles.

This was a new phenomenon for me because Wichita, Kansas, doesn’t have a lot of claims to fame songwise, unless you count “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (which doesn’t count, btw, because it was song about LEAVING Kansas).

Allow me to translate the meaning of some of my favorite California-centric songs. It’s possible that I read entirely too much into lyrics, but that’s the listener’s discretion, right? Right!

Los Angeles I’m Yours – The Decemberists
Observation: The city is foul but despite this (or because of this?) I love it even more.
Lyrical evidence: O great calamity/Ditch of iniquity and tears/How I abhor this place/Its sweet and bitter taste/Has left me wretched, retching on all fours/Los Angeles, I’m yours

California – Tom Petty
Observation: California isn’t like anywhere else. As far as Californians are concerned, we live in the United States of California, and we are the mayors of our own mini, self-reliant universe, where we must claw our way to fame/fortune/paying the rent. (Note Tom’s sarcasm in the first few lines of the lyrics … or is it my own?)
Lyrical evidence: California’s been good to me/Hope it don’t fall into the sea/Sometimes you got to save yourself/It ain’t like anywhere else

L.A. Woman – The Doors
Observation: This city is dead at night. Truthfully, everything closes early. But hey! There’s always cops and prostitutes if you get too lonely.
Lyrical evidence: Driving down your freeways/Midnight alleys roam/Cops in cars, the topless bars/Never saw a woman…/So alone, so alone

Santa Monica – Everclear
Observation: The city makes you yearn for a simple life that is impossible in the city.
Lyrical evidence: I just want to feel some sunshine/I just want to find some place to be alone

California – Rufus Wainwright
Observation: The city is so vast and cumbersome to navigate that I’d rather not leave the house.
Lyrical evidence: California, California/You’re such a wonder that I think I’ll stay in bed/Big time rollers, part time models/So much to plunder/That I think I’ll sleep instead

Going to California – Led Zeppelin
Observation: It’s hard out here for a dreamer. You can stand on that hill, but you probably can’t afford to live on it.
Lyrical evidence: Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams/Telling myself its not as hard, hard, hard as it seems

California Stars – Billy Bragg & Wilco
Observation: It’s important to have a partner while trying to achieve your goals in California. It’s hard to keep on keepin’ on alone.
Lyrical evidence: I’d love to feel your hand touching mine/And tell me why I must keep working on/Yes, I’d give my life to lay my head tonight/On a bed of California stars

California Nights – Lesley Gore
Observation: Nighttime strolls on the beach are the quick way to get some perspective, and it’s entertainment in a pinch when money is tight.
Lyrical evidence: Love California nights/When I’m walkin’ with you hand in hand by the shore

All I Wanna Do – Sheryl Crow
Observation: Los Angelenos like to wash their cars. A lot.
Lyrical evidence: The good people of the world are washing their cars/On their lunch break, hosing and scrubbing/As best they can in skirts in suits

Walking in L.A. – Missing Persons
Observation: Nobody walks in L.A. Unless they’re walking to their cars, that is. Or walking around their cars while washing them.
Lyrical evidence: Walking in L.A./Nobody walks in L.A.

Los Angelenos – Billy Joel
Observation: I come from the Midwest. Where’s my effin’ sports car?
Lyrical evidence: Los Angelenos/All come from somewhere/To live in sunshine/Their funky exile/Midwestern ladies/High-heeled and faded/Drivin’ sleek new sports cars

The Working Dead

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This post might get emotional, so bear with me, please. On Monday layoffs were announced at my workplace. I wasn’t surprised, considering the state of newspaper journalism and the fact that I’ve watched the industry swirl the drain for the past few years. There have been about a million obituaries written, a bajillion snarky I-told-you-so forecasts. I’ve switched papers several times right before the bad times hit. So of course I’m not surprised. That being said, I’m not prepared.

How do you prepare for the death of your chosen career path? You might look to the future, think about going back to school, contemplate breaking into another profession. No amount of doing this will make the blow any less painful when the time comes. A little bit of you — your passion, your drive, your sense of worth — dies, too.

I worked all day with my stomach in knots, wondering whether it was my turn for a pink slip, whether it was my turn to face the funeral of my career. Quite a few of my hardworking colleagues got their marching orders. I was spared. This time around, at least.

People are entirely too caught up with the “why” of the decline of a given industry. I’m more concerned with the “who.”

There are real people losing their jobs who have no decent prospects for the future (and obviously journalists aren’t the only casualties in this economy). What is going to become of an entire generation of skilled, intelligent and talented American workers who have been shaken from the troubled corporate tree, fully alive and vibrant, only to find themselves dying in the gutter?

Fashion Forward: Spectator Pumps

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I’m having a passionate love affair with spectator pumps right now, especially the kind with a strap because I’m a sloppy walker (even when not inebriated) and need all the help I can get to keep my feet from escaping my shoes. The new options above are totally drool-worthy, and the vintage ones below are just as choice.

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Navy and white lace up spectator pumps by Half Magic
Vintage 50s/60s Oxford Spectator Kitten Heels by Pertelote
The Op Art Spectator Pumps by jessjamesjake

A Worthy Display for Dad’s Albums

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When I was a teenager, I would don gigantic headphones and sit in front of my dad’s stereo for hours, playing his records and making mix tapes that I later played on my Walkman. This is where I became enamored with the music of Led Zeppelin, CCR, The Beatles, The Doors, David Bowie, etc. Digital music sounds awesomely clear, sure, but there’s nothing like the gentle crackle of 33’s and 45’s spinning round and round.

Dad let me pick my favorites when I was in college, and a few of them now line the hallway of our apartment. I ran across frames like this a few years back and knew immediately that art could be made from my collection. Each time I walk down the hallway, I’m reminded of my formative years, which makes me smile. The next step? Finding the perfect record player so I can reacquaint myself with the vinyl I fell in love with.

Chic for Cheap: A Room Inspired Look (Again)

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Photo via Apartment Therapy

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Creature Comforts’ Chic for Cheap challenge this week is Take Two of last week: a look inspired by a room. I fell in love with this Hollywood Regency room; it reminds me of the inside of a Valentine’s Day candy box.

As I started piecing together the outfit, I got the overwhelming urge to do a white-shirt-white-pants combo. This is totally unlike me. In fact, white pants are taboo in my world. They get dirty too easily, they widen the ass region. Generally not a good idea. The one person who can pull it off? Meg White.

So, here is my outfit inspired by a pink Hollywood Regency room cross-inspired by Meg White of The White Stripes. Enjoy.

Writing 101: Mind Map

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Holly at Decor8 started a Creativity Series last week for those of us stuck in a rut, those of us who need to kickstart our creative juices. The first exercise she suggested was to create a mind map, starting with the phrase “things I liked to do as a kid.”

Yeah, I know, my mind map looks a little wonky. I ended up using three colors of shiny ink because each color started out strong, then quickly dried up. Apparently metallic ink doesn’t photograph very well when you use a phone camera under a dull kitchen light. Who knew? Anyway, ugliness of my mind map aside, I learned a few things about myself. A lot of the things I loved to do as a child I still love to do: read, sing, write, decorate, shop, watch “Dirty Dancing.”

A few things have gotten lost along the way. Granted, I don’t think I’ll pick up my affinity for playing with Cabbage Patch Dolls anytime soon. Some things are best left in the past. But I used to ride my bicycle for hours on end. No destination, no time limits. I’d like to pick that up again. Leave my phone at home. No watch. No concept of time. This one activity speaks to me the most right now because I feel that time crunch every day, just suffocating my creative flow with a dusty pillow.

What about you? Is there a childhood joy you’d like to reincorporate into your adult life?

Tune Time: Bird is the Word

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I swear my iPod (lovingly referred to as iPizzy) has a mind of its own. “Shuffle” is supposed to be random, but just try telling that to iPizzy. Random? Hell-to-the-no, the defiant iPizzy says.

If iPizzy is feeling sad, it will play melancholy songs. If iPizzy is feeling nostalgic, it’s all 1980s pop all the time. If iPizzy longs for a feathered friend, it will play songs about birds. No lie! The other day on my way to work, these five songs came on one after the other:

1. Hummingbird – Wilco
2. Pretty Bird – Jenny Lewis
3. Songbird – Fleetwood Mac
4. Little Bird – The White Stripes
5. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley

Upon further inspection of my available “bird” songs, I discovered that there are four Beatles songs with “bird” in the title.

1. And Your Bird Can Sing
2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
3. Blackbird
4. Free as a Bird

I find it highly suspicious that iPizzy failed to play a single Beatles tune during its “bird” spree. I ask you, iPizzy, what do you have against the Fab Four? Because if you have a problem with my favorite band, we will have to have a talk. I’m not saying I’ll trade you in for another, less cognitive iPod; I’m just saying that any iPod unappreciative of John, Paul, George and Ringo must have birds for brains!