Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Uug.

Friday, October 3, 2008

My digital identity

The first time I Googled myself was in high school. I had no internet presence beyond a pink AOL web page, so the returned list of links consisted mostly of pages like "Cats of Witchcraft" and "Starcraft Cadet" -- crazy people in other states who shared my name and were somehow more important than I was.

So today I got an email from a student who addressed me as Ms. Avery. Not unusual, but I'm also called Mr. Avery plenty frequently in emails from strangers, so today I wondered how this particular guy knew I was a Ms. It could be a guess, but maybe he did his research.

(Related: Offline this week, I've been called Miss once and Ma'am twice, which has made me wonder if I'm officially venturing out Miss territory and into the greying, retirement-planning years of Ma'am. Why is there no middle ground for women between the juvenile and the matronly?)

So anyway, I Googled again. But instead of strangers responding to my call, I found versions of myself. Me as CSE Adviser. Me as "24 - Female - Seattle" on MySpace. Me as Amazon shopper, writer of nerdy reviews for special kitchen equipment and pet clippers. Me as instructor for a CSE seminar course. Only one link on this first Google page is not me, and frankly it's a bit disconcerting to find that list of crazy people online sharing my name is in fact mostly myself.

I do, however, enjoy that I am now clearly more important than the Cats of Witchcraft lady.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Things I Want To Buy

Or, Thing I Want to Buy Based On The Misguided, Consumerist Idea That Weather Changes Require An Entirely New Wardrobe.

Nail Polish: Yesterday, a very tall stranger and I had a long chat about the unavailability of Sephora by OPI nail polish in Metro Chic. It's a dark purpley grey color, and apparently it's all the rage. Like that one time Chanel made a black polish and it was sold out instantly (only this time $9 instead of $20-something). It's the only color of 50-something sold out online. Then the tall stranger looked down at the polish I was holding, the closest matching color, and said, "Oh, and I see you've got the last bottle of that one." I mumbled and looked around awkwardly, then walked to the register quickly.

Tights: Specifically, these ingenious two-toned tights from Chanel. Maybe they are a little theatrical, a little court-jester, but they also seem like a fantastic alternative to the current options of plain black or figure-distorting lace/net tights.

Unfortunately, the real Chanels are $230 dollars. Fortunately, they seem popular and interesting enough that I hope Urban Outfitters or H&M will have a knock-off available by the time the weather actually requires tights.

Speaking of H&M: It opens within walking distance on September 12. I'm two weeks away from the fulfillment of a dream that has waited many years. Equal parts joy and fear that constant proximity will dull the sharp fabulousness of what's been till now only an European and New York experience. But I'm happy to think I'll have more time for museums and friends, being less compelled to madly race around Manhattan gathering cheap stylish garments, when I visit in December.

Giant handbags: I saw two really fabulous, really large, leather bags at Gap in U Village. When I asked the man at the counter when they might go on sale, he said not for a while, if at all. Maybe I will find a friend who can give me a discount. Or maybe someone will think my birthday is actually in early September and buy me an inexplicably generous present. If people will actually pay $230 for tights, anything can happen.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Autumn Tour of Friends Who've Left Me

I bought plane tickets to Chicago and New York! That's half the transportation for my Autumn Tour of Friends Who've Left Me. I'll buy tickets from Manhattan to Northampton and home from Boston once Jill confirms exactly which days she'll be available -- hopefully soon. The Alaska flight I want home is still empty, but I don't want to wait too long.

Autumn quarter will be exciting, and will go very quickly, but right now November 27th seems a very long way away. I didn't realize till now that I'm exactly 3 months away (or, was yesterday) from departure.

I'm already planning what to pack. I hope to take only a large purse + carry on. Lysondra says she's heard horror stories of Chicago winter, and I can't imagine NYC or Boston will be any warmer. I plan boots and sweaters and maybe skirts with thick tights. Pants would be warmer, but I hate that they drag in puddles. And, of course, the big MJ coat I found at the Rack a few weeks ago. I wore it around the house last night, watching Sex and the City and cleaning my closet.

I called my mom to tell her we'd need to reschedule Thanksgiving, and she said, in a very low voice, "Ooh, Raven!" Though I don't think it's a huge deal, Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday. But it felt kind of good to elicit some response beyond our usual polite conversation, to be the high-maintenance daughter for once. Caitie just turned 21, and has started skydiving. It's hard to compete with that.

Scheduling time with friends made me feel a bit like a parent juggling favorite siblings -- on my spreadsheet of expenses, timeline, and details, I charted how many days I'd get to spend with everyone. Manhattan and Kelsey win by a landslide -- I can explore easiest on my own while Kelsey and Graham are at work, Brian will hopefully come for part, and Manhattan is of course the most exciting place. Half my time with Sarah and Jill will be spent in the smaller college towns of Ann Arbor, MI and Northampton, MA. Of NoHo (as Jill called it), I've only heard one vivid description: the dustiness of a bookstore.

Nonetheless! I am enthused to visit friends, and cities with a history. The Wikitravel page for Boston talks about the battles of Lexington and Concord, and the first public school in the States. It makes me want to read some Sarah Vowel on the plane.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Weekend Away

In preparation for our weekend away, Brian asked if there would be Internet. Melissa referred to the house as a "cabin." And I thought Cle Elum's Historic Telephone Museum might be the height of excitement.

Ooh, what low expectations. The gatehouse we passed when entering the planned community hinted that we would not officially be "roughing it." A few miles later, we pulled up to the most high-end house I've ever personally muddied the doormat of: high, heavy-beamed ceilings and enormous custom furniture, fluffy bedspreads and champagne in the fridge. This pristine rustic place was like being at once the center of the universe, around which lowly ordinary houses revolve, and being the only thing in existence -- no neighbors in sight.

But it's amazing how quickly awe fades into entitlement. Why shouldn't we drink mimosas with breakfast and lounge around in the sun? If we felt any discomfort at being out of our unimpressive elements, it left us quickly. The second day, we returned from the adjoining resort's pool + waterslides and took over the house with Rock Band at excessive volumes. (Not that any of us are so underprivileged -- we all went to college. Those who are unemployed aren't exactly struggling. Of the seven of us, only one didn't have an iPhone.)

I'd worried a bit about spending the whole weekend together. This group has been getting together regularly for years, for game nights and Lost and holiday parties. But we don't exactly do sleep-overs. Fortunately the time together, and maybe the alcohol or 103° heat, brought out some fun childishness without any cranky juvenile behaviour. Even when things went awry (we discovered the scenic beach was a redneck parking lot of SUVs and large dogs), we recovered quickly. By the end, we'd spend a significant amount of time on underwater hand-stand competitions and Olympics-inspired triple-axle attempts on the patio.

But. I was ready to go home by dinnertime of the third day, and it seemed to take forever to get people moving through dinner and chocolate-chip-cookie baking. Brian and Buster went home the second day, for work and to bark at the mailman, respectively, and an array of other friends is no replacement. I was happy it only took an hour to get back, so I could sit on my own couch. And as much as a hate our scummy carpet and blah apartment, someone else's fancy weekend house is no replacement for home.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Delusions of pregnancy and grandeur

I lazily caught a crowded bus to U Village yesterday (um, very important business). A man began to stand, to offer me his seat, and I told him, "No, that's OK, I'm getting off at the next stop."

He sat and I considered whether I felt demeaned to be offered a seat. I'm younger that he is, I thought. I'm female, I'm not incapable of standing. It's not like I'm wearing heels, or pregnant.

And then, even worse, I thought, What if he did think I was pregnant?

. . .

Fall fashions at Anthropologie consoled me. I was very good and put back even the cheapest sale items (because who really needs another skirt?) until I saw a small purple jacket. Ooh, clothing! Why do you tempt me? You know autumn especially is my weakness.

I spoke with a sales girl all about the new catalogue. Even better: new Nordstrom catalogue. A gorgeous cover by R. Toledo, and pages flooded with dark, cozy, proper clothing. Long coats and big leather bags, and so much deep purple. I showed Brian a $1,395 Fendi watch with my birthdate on the face. He didn't think it was quite the sign of destiny I did. He also said it looked just like my current watch, which I intended as a sign that I quite like the style. Apparently, to some an established personal taste is redundancy.

. . .

I think the economic downturn, combined by autumn's usual influence toward more conservative, vaguely-academic/equestrian apparel, has driven fashion in a pretty classic direction. No shocking new trends. Magazines discuss purchases that will last a lifetime -- wardrobe investments. Flattering shapes, predictable autumn colors, versatile feminine styles.

I don't mind it at all. As much fun as it is to be intrigued by Balenciaga tulip-shaped skirts, or entertained by a glowing lime green MJ bag, my personal purchases have moved consistently toward things I expect to wear indefinitely. It doesn't always work out (I swear, I always think I will wear that magenta Brooks Brothers coat more often, but then it never seems quite right). But at least I can pay more realistic attention to a catalogue full of wearable pieces than some bizarre show of which designer can make us look silliest by "experimenting with form." I don't want my form experimented with, I want it flattered. It has enough trouble on it's own, apparently (see pregnancy entry above).

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Side Effects of Boyfriends Working Late

or, The Foam Roller Experiment Part I.



Perhaps I need to develop my technique.

The Campaign

It's not very often we get to laugh and cringe a little at the same time, but this NY Times headline is like a punchline with no joke attached:

McCain Tries to Define Obama as Out of Touch

Fortunately for the Times, McCain's computer illiteracy will keep him from discovering the media bias in
the actual article.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Invitation to Cle Elum

Trevor's invited our usual Daily-alum friends to spend a weekend at his parents' new house near Cle Elum. I think Cle Elum is that Safeway on the way to the Gorge. On a map, it is a very tiny grid on a very long stretch of highway. It's not exactly a dream vacation in Disneyworld or Paris, but it's also not a ground-floor apartment in Wallingford. I don't think I've left Seattle for months, except one night in Suquamish, and I am desperate to go somewhere. I miss packing, and the scheduled, orderly feeling of being out-of-town. I don't get to plan daily itineraries when we're sitting at home.

Of course, Brian is conveniently working that Sunday, but hopefully he can get Friday off so we can go for two days. If not, I may become obsessed with planning imaginary vacations online.

Trevor also says we can bring Buster, and his parents may stop by with a Labradoodle. Which is one of Buster's favorite breeds. Labradoodle.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Dining Room Table

Pretty much everything about my life is great, except our dining room table.

We don't really have a dining room, just a space where our long living room runs into the kitchen, where the wall color changes from "Wilted Spinach" to "Fake Blood." Here, a laminate-pasted particle board and aluminum rectangle mocks my only real family value.

When I was growing up, we didn't sing together or go to church, and early efforts at family meetings by my stepdad were quickly abandoned; but we ate together every night. The only way to get out of eating with the family was to be eating with someone else's family -- it wasn't enough to simply have food, it had to be an intergenerational experience involving food cooked in a kitchen. I mostly hated the obligation, until one day a good friend who had (I imagined) a perfect family told me he only ate with his brother and parents on holidays and stuff -- most nights, his mom left tacos or something in the kitchen of their three-story, planned community house, and they ate on their own. Alone, I guess. And suddenly dinner together, across from each other, represented the kind of solid, stable, supportive structure I'd always yearned for. I still hurried from the table, but sometimes not so quickly.

And so it makes sense to me now that even though we were poor, my mom spent $200 on a heavy, dark table at a garage sale, shortly after marrying my stepdad. We were only four, but there was room for six at the least and 10 or 12 when both leaves were put in, for holidays or birthday parties. The chairs had high, carved backs, and the table legs curved down to heavy canine feet. Someone once put a pan down with nothing but a thin tablecloth underneath, so now there's a white moon burned into the top -- something painful at the time, now with a sort of sweet history.

I think when I moved out before junior year of high school, my family stopped eating together. My mom was a vegetarian anyway, my stepdad all meat and potatoes, and he and my sister never got along anyway. Without me as some sort of equalizer, I guess the structure seemed too flimsy. Even with the heavy, dark table.

We don't exactly have a dining room, and we're not really a family, but Brian and I still eat, often together. Like my mom, I think it's not enough to just have food -- dinner should be a communal experience. I want placemats and place settings, and a pan burning a crescent into the wood. I want to clear the table before dinner, not just shove clean a space for my cereal in the morning. It's not the 22 minutes spent sitting, or the pasta, but the feeling of being with friends at a bar, or at church, if you believe, or even reading a book - just being connected to some other human presence in a specific moment.

So I've been looking on craigslist for a big, heavy wooden table, something dark, no mid-90s oak with padded wheeled chairs, nothing "Scandinavian" or minimalist, and definitely no metal and glass structures. It might be misguided to imagine a carved wooden rectangle will bring with it the gravitas of family, but it will be something -- at the least, it will help define the space between giant TV and kitchen.

Friday, July 25, 2008

iPhones, you phones

Brian and I got iPhones. So now I can check my work email as I'm walking out the door at 5, and check my Gmail while sitting in front of my computer with Gmail already open. And listen to music and find movie times, etc. What I can not seem to do, with this telephone, is make phone calls.

I've yet to import my contacts from my old phone, so the only people I can call are the two numbers I have memorized: Brian and Mom. Someone else's Tennessee grandmother left me a messy message one morning, but I don't think wrong numbers count when calculating usefulness.

I tried to add a contact today (my salon, so, OK, three phone calls I can make) and accidentally called them four times before figuring out how to save the number instead of dialing. I blame not the iPhone, which is so usable the manual could fit in the change pocket of a pair of jeans, but my own ineptitude when it comes to dialing. Computers and I are close friends, but phones, fax machines -- it's like we've never been introduced properly.

As much as I love accessing the Internet within seconds of any whim, I hesitate to whip it out. I am afraid. 1: I am afraid I will drop it, and if not break it at least scratch the shiny surface. This may draw attention away from the greasy fingerprints covering the screen like an expressionist painting, but it would still be a disappointment. 2: I am afraid I will be hit by a bus while crossing the street and reading the NY Times on a 3" screen. And 3: I am afraid people on the street will either judge me for having an overpriced gadget or hit me with their purses and steal my overpriced gadget.

Beyond this paranoia (which is similarly caused by anything else in my life), it's pretty fantastic. It's as easy to use as the television ads suggest, it allows me to access the Internet with relative ease almost anywhere -- the necessity of this is debatable, but my life would revolve around the virtual world anyway, this just makes it more feasible. The 3G network is pretty much everywhere, so it's speedy. Good ringtones, nice UI, plenty of free apps. And I got to watch Obama's Berlin speech in the bathroom this morning (while getting ready). The option for more politics in the bathroom pretty much makes my life complete.

My birthday is 4 months away.




Yes it is. 4 months.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Read a Q&A with Ivanka Trump in Vanity Fair, in which she discusses her business ventures, her multiple roles at the Trump corporation, her jewelry line, gives some advice. When asked about her morning routine, she says, "The first thing I do in the morning is read the New York Post."The interviewer then clarifies with, "What about your morning beauty rituals?" And so she talks about bath products, says she doesn't wear much make-up. And she goes back to talking about business. The headline, however: "Ivanka Trump on her daily beauty rituals and how to avoid frenemies." Thanks for taking women seriously, VF.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cafe Campagne tonight ...

and it was delicious.

I'm happy to have had a dinner that fit within a clear cuisine, rather than more "new American." While I love the high brow comfort food trend of saffron mashed potatoes and lobster mac-and-cheese, the clear theme of Cafe Campagne was delicious before the food even arrive. And the prix fixe menu of -- I imagine -- authentically French dishes was a treat. Brian and I traded soups, but it was exciting to order three courses I'd not normally have picked.

And sparkling Rose! If there's anything I love more than pink wine, it is bubbly wine. It is happiness in a chilled bottle.

I don't normally enjoy the type of older men who think they're charming -- those who flirt with waitresses and dominate the dinner table with scripted jokes and slouch a little bit to show their nonchalance -- but I enjoyed the man sitting next to us. He asked Brian about his duck confit and then asked the waitress for peanut butter to go with the french bread. I'd be happy to have him as an uncle.

Am I projecting?

Or does Conor Oberst seem too old to be dressed up all grimey vintage looking coy in front of kitch wallpaper?

We are not in high school anymore, Bright Eyes. The angst is now nostaligia, not a lifestyle.

Not that I wouldn't go see him ... if it wasn't a weeknight.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I love Vogue because you can tell from the first few ad-pasted pages in June that deep purple and royal blue will be great colors for the coming autumn. I'm enthused.
After a walk to campus with Buster and half hour or so with A Tree Grown In Brooklyn (which is amazing), found myself three cookies deep into a freshly-baked batch of fantastic chocolate chip cookies. I added walnuts to half the batch, which probably adds some flavor but mostly gives them a fabulous "rustic" texture. After purchasing an array of cookie scoops in various sizes, I've decided I don't actually want them all perfect circles. I miss the organic, lumpy, made-from-dough look.

Brian's insistance I try Crisco paid off, though. The cookies are super soft with a mysteriously airbrushed-looking yellow creaminess. Am still disturbed to have a vat of solid white fat sitting warm in the cupboard, but I can overlook the greatest weirdness for a good cookie.

It was a happy, leisurey Friday evening, after leaving work a little early and discovering the sun even hotter than it had been at noon when I met Caitie for lunch on the Ave. She talked about the GRE and getting her nipples pierced; I talked about professional pet portraits for Buster. If we hadn't come to our standard conclusion that mom is a crazy lady, we'd have been very unlikely to appear sisters at all.

My weekend calendar filled quickly with food-oriented social plans: Cafe Campagne, birthday barbecue, dim sum, and Brouwer's. Sarah also hopes I stop by the Fremont parade where she'll be standing enthusiastically at a Cease Fire table. I hope the weather hold so I can wear new summer clothes instead of the same four sweaters I've been wearing since October.

Friday, June 13, 2008













In her NY Times' blog, Judith Warner writes on sexually-charged manifestations of patriarchy in the US and abroad.

The premise: the connection between hymen-restoration trend in France, driven by the cultural need for unmarried women to remain (or re-become) virgins, and similar efforts in the US -- particularly, fathers who lead their teenage daughters to chastity balls and assert that it is their duty to protect their purity.

Warner also brings up rape and incest as more extreme examples of patriarchy -- and while they do not equate, she says,"there is nonetheless a kind of horror to their [fathers'] obsession with their daughters’ sexuality. ... And there is even greater danger to the fact that this particular aspect of the nationwide “abstinence movement” has not been broadly denounced as the form of emotional violence against girls that it indisputably is."

Indeed.

And an interesting counterpoint to arguments against the over-sexualization of young women. I personally find this paternal obsession with virginity about as creepy and inappropriate as Billy Ray's audience to Miley's sexually-charged Liebowitz photos.

While it's definitely uncomfortable for bratty, ridiculous teenagers and awkward parents to have 'the talk,' it is entirely possible for normal families to address sexuality in a normal, healthy, non-creepy way. No need to venture into territory that causes bloggers to revolt nationwide!

No one tried very hard to protect my virginity, and I don't recall ever being afraid of losing it too early or keeping it too long. I'm sure there was some kind of mental turmoil over it, and my parents were not thrilled when it went the way of YM magazine and shopping in the juniors section. But I'm fairly certain fears were over pregnancy, primarily, and not purity.

New new blog look.

Edited again. The off-center alignment was haunting me.

New blog look.

Not sure if I'm in love, but I erased the HTML for the old template so that's the end of that.

May play with this this weekend, clean it up, and make it a little more interesting. Also would like it centered -- am not a fan web pages pushed to one side of the browser.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Meat


I get excited just seeing Mark Bittman's name on the Times' front page -- it means some new and exciting commentary of food and how to eat it. Today, eating less meat.

I love that he discusses how less can be good rather than why it is. The recommendations are practical and interesting. I think I will precook those beans that have been in the pantry since Januaryish.

But reading, I must wonder who's eating so much meat. I've certainly never made an effort to eat less meat (aside from that vegan month freshman year), and I definitely don't feel deprived eating meat at dinner only. I could go days without meat and not notice. But meat for breakfast and lunch and dinner, too? Do people really eat breakfast meat on a daily basis? OK, maybe people in Texas, but do people I know do this? Are there people in my office eating meat three times per day? I never even considered this a possibility. I do love a good piece of meatiness, am no more grossed out by it than by dairy or eggs. So what is so different in my life, my upbringing or values or health or cravings, that my habit would be the aim of others' efforts?

Likely, I am just a carb and fruit addict. It's killing me not having gone to Costco for bushels of apples and spinach last weekend. I eagerly await the weekend, not for sleeping in or early summer barbecue, but in the hopes that asparagus will be on sale.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Showers, showers, few showers, partly cloudy. I left my umbrella at Thaiger Room last week,
and I can't figure out what to wear for this weather. Is it spring? Can I wear florals when my flowers have yet to bloom? Can I wear skirts bare-legged in this weather? Long pants dragging in puddles are as bad as open toes in this drizzle, and I'm sick of tights. I'm ready for weather that makes me forget what it feels like so overcast and chilly.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bill Cunningham discusses vests on NYTimes.com. Not just any vests, or all vests, but traditional three-piece-suit style vests (and a waistcoat or two) layered by young people over jeans and tees, blouses, and untucked dress shirts. I'm a big fan of the look -- it takes otherwise-bland outfits to a very current, urban, sharp place. The structure adds almost gravitas to Gap basics, but the trendiness keeps a dress shirt and slacks from looking like Ross on Friends. I love almost every single one of these looks ... everything except the "interesting" look on the woman at :55 -- who's looking at the vest when her underwear is rising 6 inches out of such hideous jeans?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Years of Clinique leads to quite a collection of Gift-With-Purchase makeup bags -- too many, and yet all too small to store the large quantities of lipstick bought to enable these GWPs in the first place. But we can't just trow away a nice floral-print PVC zippered pouch, so until now they've sat in a drawer in the closet. Le sigh.

Until now! Now I have discovered the wonder of swapping on Makeupalley. The site, which I used previously for user reviews, hosts a forum where ladies to trade lipgloss for lipgloss, shampoo for scrub, and four samples of MAC pigment for -- yes -- my useless little make-up bags. Useless to me, but an excellent find for Irony26 from Sublimity, OR, who apparently has a multitude of craft supplies to organize.

Over the last two weeks, I've received lipsticks, gloss, polish, and a bevy of "extras" -- it's standard, though not obligatory, to toss in a teeny sample or other free/cheapo bit of beauty with your swap.

I've also become a post office expert. Wednesday, I helped a woman with limited English and complete lack of USPS knowledge mail her Comcast bill, then explained the APC to a thoroughly mesmerized woman. (The APC, for you novices, is the Automatic Postal Center for weighing packages and printing lables. I highly recommend.)

Brian seemed skeptical -- and frankly, it's a little weird not knowing exactly where this gloss passed between Dior and my doorstep. But most people list (hopefully honestly) whether a product has been used, and every user receives reviews and positive or negative 'tokens' after a swap. So far, all my brand new friends have sent things in excellent condition. I can't imagine much greater rick here than sampling my way through Sephora on a busy Saturday.

And the benefits are excellent: swapping is like online shopping, except you only pay shipping. I get to tidy my stash, test brands I don't normally buy, and receive fun little packages of fun in mail. I also like to think we're helping the environment a bit by reusing and recycling. Al Gore would certainly be proud.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wedding dress shopping

A second and longer round of wedding gown shopping last weekend with The Kennedys. (I must falsely allude that I know a great political family before she changes her name.)

A rare combination of emotion and business, romance and critical judgement, anticipation and leisure. I can see how the many very personal factors influencing this decision could make it a very trying shopping-spree. But Melissa shuffled through ruched and bedazzled dresses decisively, narrowing the piles down to four favorites over the course of three stores. No one sobbed, no one complained that they looked too fat or too thin, no one tried to sell us extra tulle or imported sequins.

Also fortunately, Melissa would look good in pretty much anything, and she picked fairly classic, flattering shapes. It wasn't hard to agree with her choices. There's a decent amount of variety in the gowns, but for the most part they're white, shimmery, and designed to flatter the female figure. The business of weighing pros and cons in this homogenous group sort of tempers the romance.

Not quite so with the bridesmaid dresses. We also visited a bridal party store, and while I wouldn't call the process romantic it was certainly more varied. The tone of the dressing room was almost frantic, outside neat rows of dresses ravaged by clusters of excited ladies. You could hear cameras zooming and clicking through the velvet dressing room drapes.

As the other bridesmaids are in Texas, Manhattan, Egypt, and California, respectively, I was the lucky first to lady try on and influence dress selection. Strapless is good.

When is Brian's turn in the dressing room? I asked Melissa about the groomsmen's clothing, and she waved a hand dismissively and said, "That's all Nate's job!" So possibly I will be in taffeta and he will be in flipflops ...
Though they were within walking distance of work, I first heard of Fran's salted caramels on NPR - where else? I wasn't sure if they sounded gimmicky or legitimately gourmet, but who really cares if they're delicious? I eventually bought a small package as a present for who-remembers-anymore, and ate them half-at-a-time over the course of a week or so. Supreme deliciousness confirmed.

And now, I think, vague gimmickiness has given way to full Seattle food trend. New ice cream shop Molly Moon's in Wallingford: salted caramel ice cream. New Belltown seafood restaurant Banzino: salted caramel semifreddo (which apparently means semi-frozen, as in half-frozen custard or ice-cream cake).

It could be wonderful to experience this combination as a river of sugary decadence running through the city -- salted caramel barbecue sauce, salted caramel frappuccino -- but my inkling is this flavor is best in moderation. Though the basic pairing of sugar and salt is no shock (hello Chex mix and honey-roasted nuts), this particular execution is almost overwhelming-- hence the rare experience of those four candies lasting a full week.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Both Net-A-Porter and Anthropologie have advertised a butterfly trend this spring.

Really? Butterflies? Good in nature, not across my body. But maybe I'm too close to elementary school to appreciate this very precious motif.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Nine West has a new sandal called Raven. Unfortuantely, it is neither interesting nor particularly attractive, and looks uncomfortable. I think I speak for most Ravens everywhere when I say I'm disappointed.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wonderful weekend! Full of activities that made life feel like summer. It may go back to grey skies and drizzle, but I know with the certainty of spring-quarter finals week that summer is almost here.

Hike: After my walk with Buster (previous post), Melissa picked Brian and me up for a hike at Twin Falls. Not too far away, too long, or too strenuous. I could've been better prepared (no water bottle at home, no good food for packed lunch, and sunscreen was running out), but I think it was excellent practice for at least a couple hikes this summer.

Melissa had hoped for a bigger group of friends, but I think it was kind of nice just the three of us. None of us are super talkative, so while there was pretty consistant conversation, there was no compulsive chatter to detract from the experience of nature and exercise. The well-trodden trail follows some smallish but rushing river upstream, with a number of spots that gave interesting views of a pretty amazing waterfall -- larger than most of the falls I've seen in our region. Hiking doesn't entertain me like an excellent book or play, but it gives such a good, productive enjoyment.

Dinner: I was somehow still restless in the evening, so when we decided on burgers for dinner, I walked to PCC for supplies. Fremont's not far, but I haven't walked before and it's a good distance: I wouldn't do it every day, but definitely managable in nice weather.

We've been grilling regularly since spring weather arrived, but we've never done burgers. Although I underestimated the saltiness of Johnny's (the only seasoning I used, in my lazy mood), they were pretty fantastic. Also grilled corn on the cobb, one of my favorite vegetables -- it was perfect sweet white corn, totally unstarchy.

I also picked up a cheapo bottle of Gruener Veltliner, which was featured on The Splendid Table. Haven't opened it yet, but I'm excited to try it.

Reading Vogue in the sun: Woke up early and had a couple hours before our brunch reservation at Tilth, so I went to our teeny patio with some Talking Rain, big sunglassses, and the latest issue of Vogue. I just flipped through the photo spread and only really read the feature on Sex and The City: The Movie, but I must've been more enthralled than I realized, because I picked up a little sunburn from my short-sleeves down. As much as I fear skin cancer and excessive freckles, I'll have to go sleeveless soon to even it out.

Brunch: Dinner is almost certainly the most creative time for meals, but I don't think food can be more satisfying than at breakfast. And Tilth is probably the best-reviewed restaurant in the city, at least in expert opinions (see: NY Times top 10). Surprisingly empty, especially after they refused to add 2 to our reservation, and service was very nice but slow. But, we weren't there to count empty tables or chat with the server -- we were there to eat.

I expect explicitly local and organic food to showcase very natural (ie: sparingly-seasoned) and seasonal flavors. My Grand Mariner french toast was delicious, not excessively heavy, but as sugarly as dessery. Brian and Nate had biscuits and chicken + gravy that was even saltier than normal gravy, and an menu option for warm weather. And the curd with Melissa's scone: described as "like pie filling" by our waitress.

Overall: good, will definitly go back for breakfast (esp as the menu changes seasonally), but
it all seemed a bit less refined than I espected.

Finally, Seattle Cheese Festival: This is what Bite of Seattle should be. Except with more than cheese. 2/3 of the way through, I discovered that there is, in fact, a limit to how much cheese I can eat.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's already one of the most beautiful days of the year!

I woke up a bit after 6, gave Buster a fresh haircut for springtime, and we went to Gasworks.

It was early enough to be mostly vacant; a single runner sitting on a bench, a young woman reading, two sets of boys engaged in some sort of fighting practice in a paved corner of the park. We ran through the wet grass and sniffed the flowers and ate a pocketful of dog treats. We stood on the edge of the bricked look-out space, traced the curve of the city with appreciative and authoritative gaze, and felt that this was out city, our landscape, out park. The waters ripple for us, the trees bloom and the gleaming towers erect themselves because we are here to watch.

At home, while I made checked my email, Buster stood on the coffee table for a minute, surveying the living room.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I am getting old.

I'm noticing that students who I'd assumed were about my age are actually 4 or 5 years younger than me -- and some are born in another decade entirely. Not so distant a gap, but definitely enough that were I in their position, I'd view me as an older person. Like I was some kind of thoroughly established adult. A staff member walking around campus among students, in a protective staff bubble of permanence, stability, seriousness. I'm practically wearing orthopedic shoes.

I also discovered the second unfortunate consequence of leaving my over-priced hair stylist: My roots include at least 3 grey hairs. Certainly, I've been a bit of a prudish old lady since I first joyfully ironed along with Martha. And teensy wrinkles I've had since I was a kid, and expected while I baked in tanning salons throughout high school (oh, and college). But, as far as I know, grey hairs hold no exterior cause to blame for accelerating their appearance; my body is simply decaying. And once my very hair follicles lose interest in the plump, colorful vibrancy of youth, what hope do I have? If this is not the end, it is certainly no longer the beginning.

PS. I am not wearing orthopedic shoes. In fact, I think I look pretty hot today.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I was super sleepy this morning (to the point of actually resisting getting out of bed for a whole 3 or 4 minutes), but was happy to walk to campus and spend half an hour working out. Some combination of the exercise, a sunny noontime walk for coffee, and a pseudo-nap disguised as a work training meeting this morning have brought me excessive happytimes energy. The sun fell over campus like warm sugar, a sky all puffed silver clouds and baby-blanket blue; Suzzallo was a cathedral, Gerberding a palace; and the ripped-jeans/designer purses student body skateboarding and cellphoning through red square made me happy to be part of something.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weekend.

Lost on Friday with Nate and Melissa. The show has recaptured some of its early quality, with the cabin, the black smoke, and a tightening-up of plot lines. Things are muddled with time changes and mysterious characters, and there are still too many plotlines to cover everything in any one episode, but at least I can recall week-to-week what's going on.

Saturday -- Gym, Costco, long walk with Buster to campus (was as big a fan of the Quad as any sun-bathing sophomore), dinner, The Wire. The first season was striking, but in hindsight a good reiteration of familiar social dynamics. The second is more complex, more original, more gritty. It's really exciting and unsettling to see blue collar culture and organized crime contrasted with inner-city drug trade. A group of primarily white cops chasing primarily black dealers does not make one think in the same was as this mix of Greeks, eastern europeans, and african americans. And one irish american played by a brit, or maybe Australian. I forget.

Today, crepes and thick-creamed coffee at the Rusty Pelican. Along with breakfast cocktails (mimosas), they're pushing the concept of breakfast appetizers -- who needs a cinnamon roll while they wait for french toast?

Then, what I secretly want to do 90% of the time (when not baking cookies): Nordstrom Rack. I was in an unparalleled mood for trying on out-of-season designer clothing, and felt incomparably lucky to wander in just after 10 am and see that the store was unusually neat an tidy. This is what retail looks like before the shoppers arrive. I dove in and started disheveling things.

I small rack of Missoni scarves drew me over at least twice, but though I'm sure it would have been a decent investment, I couldn't part with $50+ for a square of silk. Shoes were iffy -- many so-so summer styles, but instead I left with my first pair of Chuck Taylor's. (A girl at work recently bought her first pair, too, and Friday we shared ambivalence at a style so over-done in high school, and yet so inevitable.)

And then, after standing in the slow slow lines once, I saw one lonely pair of very attractive Marc Jacobs' sunglasses on a sad rack of very unattractive styles (who's really shocked that that weird plastic unibrow style didn't sell well?). Tried on and looked very exciting, and was in line as soon as I saw the price was half normal Rack discount. Unfortunately got the same register girl the second time around -- she didn't seem so surprised to see me again, though.

Much traipsing around downtown, and found a good denim skirt at Urban. Not cheap. But it felt very right when I tried it on.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Possibly it's the sweatiness that makes me get angry at things I see on TV while at the gym. I don't think I'm often angry at TV at home. Regardless, I saw this morning that Mary J Blige and Hype Williams have thoroughly ripped off Bjork and Michel Gondry's Joga.

Well, maybe not "thoroughly." The knock-off entirely misses the drama, creativity, graphic innovation, and geographic sensuality of the original. But, I guess a boring video for a boring song, and a sweeping, luxurious video for a phenomenal song ...

I try to avoid music videos, generally, so I'm sure there are plenty of landscape-zooming shorts I've missed. Initially it made me step up my elliptical pace and click back to the ridiculousness of that Bravo show about the hotel pretty quickly. However, after YouTubing Joga and watching thrice, my mind is at peace: it's gorgeous, and no low-budget green screen production will ever touch it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Anne Frank, Robert Downey Jr.

Saw The Diary of Anne Frank with Sarah Saturday. As she said, it's not a play you can criticize easily -- its very existance is impressive, and for a company to put it on is almost a public service.

But even with these free passes, the production was top notch: sincere actors, a solid set, good pacing, engaging even when we all know the whole 'plot' and most of the dialogue. We also went to Crow and drank more wine than really necessary.

Saturday, half-priced brunch then Iron Man with a couple former Daily friends. Didn't realise it was Robery Downey Jr until suddenly there his face was, eight feet tall. Gewnyth Paltrow and whoever played the villain were also quality. Solid entertainment, despite the movie being one big set-up for the sequel.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Nelly Furtado - Man Eater

As we do often, we listened to this song in spinning today. It will be in my head all weekend. Subtly informing my thoughts. Controlling my actions.

I'm excited to announce that yesterday I wore a skirt sans tights for the second time this week, and was not at all freezing. It was spectacular. I'm sick of tights.

This young lady who rides my bus and goes to the gym in the morning is always a little (maybe a lot) flamboyantly dressed. Today, she wandered into the makeup and hair-styling area in a reasonable skirt and a strapless bra. Where on campus does one need to dress in a way that requires a strapless bra?! Crazy people.

ps! this is my 100th post!! winner!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yesterday, over a fancy cheese plate, Melissa asked me to be a bridesmaid! According to the fun little bridesmade guidebook she presented me with, this involves many responsibilities. Primary among them: keeping things fun and fabulous. The book actually talks about being fabulous, specifically. I will try my best. Brian will be a groomsman for Nate; I'm not sure if fabulous is an explicit part of the deal or not.

If they go with their current pick for venue -- The Edgewater -- I think fabulousness is inevitable. It looks gorgeous and (according to Brian, via Nate) has an outrageous minimum charge: easily more than my salary, pre-taxes.

I'm very excited to get to help with colors and dresses and flowers and whatever Melissa wants second opinions on. With her and Nate's good taste (and her parent's apparent resources), it sounds like it will be an amazing time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Somehow I missed the media uproar over a Yale art student's senior thesis on self-induced abortion until Brian asked about it today.

After browsing a few articles for the various media perspectives (none really have any new or clear info after the Yale student paper), I found The Chronicle's own brief with reader responses. And while I'm not shocked other people are for the most part appalled, I am surprised that no one, not a single person, tried to defend the student -- not her right to free speech, not her creativity, not her position as a student who should have been advised out of this choice. Here's my response -- it's not all I can think to say, but it sums up my thoughts at this moment, as an adviser:

"I’m surprised by the emotional and intellectual level of the responses here. I understand a guttural reaction is unavoidable, but I imagine this forum is primarily populated by educators. Rather than dismissing this student entirely, shouldn’t we respond with ideas more fully thought-out than this project apparently was?

Particularly, comments like this unsettle me: 'Wow, I was going to try something thoughtful, but I decided in retrospect,this girl is just plain crazy and doesn’t warrant anything that deep.'

I wouldn’t refer to any students I know as ‘plain crazy’ and unworthy of my time or effort — and we all certainly hear ridiculous ideas from students all the time.

I don’t pretend to enjoy this art; certainly, while earning my own art degree, this was the type of juvenile, self-indulgent, contemporary mess I hated most. But while I won’t appreciate the process or the product here, I’d criticize more the faculty and staff who failed to advise this student in a different direction, and the student’s own lack of discourse on the subject. There’s plenty that could be said here, and she — as an artist — needs to step forward and contribute to the discussion."

--

Undoubtedly, there are serious impossibilities in my own fuzzy ideologies that blend libertarianism and socialism in the back of my mind. No part of me thinks this action should be illegal, and I'd be disappointed if Yale had stepped in forcefully for stop it. That's not effective education. But I'm baffled that every line and color and smudge I chose to put down during the entirely of my education was questioned, yet this senior thesis was carried out without someone suggesting a more effective method.

An important, and apparently absent, element of art education is the question of what art really is. Art doesn't have to be beautiful or well-received, or made of pain or clay, or about a specific subject; but art should have to be effective just as much as a project in any other subject. A program developed by a computer science student would not be considered passable if it didn't function. A poorly-designed psych experiment would not be allowed to invite participants. So why do art students get free reign to smear whatever they want on a canvas and call it art, even if no one understands it?

The student wanted discourse about the use of the body in art; she did not achieve that, and she is not stepping up to make that specific dialogue happen. She could use the public revulsion to her advantage: the exploitation of the female body in this piece mirrors the exploitation of women used in orientalist art; her manipulation is Ingres' manipulation of his Odalisque. It would not win over the masses, but at least she'd be acting like an artist.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I don't want to have a sick day.

I don't want to be stuck in the house. I don't want to have this cough and sniffles. I don't want to do any more laundry or match any more socks. I don't want to take out the dog on his every little whim. I don't want to put away dishes or iron shirts or wach Martha or What Not To Wear. I am sick of this whole sick-day business. And while I'm complaining, let me just say that I am very sore from the bevy of squats I did in Total Toning yesterday.

Last night I thought it was a good idea: I'd sleep in, I'd do some chores, I'd sit around in my pajamas with soup and Netflix. It went OK at first, but by 10 am I was grumpy and restless. When Brian said, "I wish I could stay home with you," I thought "Absolutely not! There's no way either of us would be happy after an hour of my grumpiness!" Fortunately he was soon safely on his way to Redmond, and Buster forgets I've just yelled at him within moments.

Update! I decided to put on pants and very big sunglasses and drag my unwanted clothes (from consolidating to make way for fancy new dresser), to the new Crossroads on the Ave. Unshowered and coughing, I was in little shape for public appearances, but I'd heard many good things about used designer bags from the greek system and other fabulous cheapo merch.

I found a J Crew skirt ($11), Ted Baker sandals ($15), and a springy little Hermes tote ($22). Even if the store was 99% fading, cheapo, or boring, these few little finds took only a third of the credit I got when the buyers took nearly everything in my giant bag -- 22 items sold, only 3 teeshirts to take home.

After the little outing, I am OK with pajamas and Netflix.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekend: theater, flowers, chocolate, beer

Friday: Cabaret with Jill. I wasn't quite in the bawdy/reflective mood for near-nudity and dancing turned holocaust memorial, but the play and the performance were solid, and it made me miss Berlin thoroughly temporarily. Though written to capture a very specific moment in the city's history, I think this paradox of playful debauchery juxtaposed with a pensive kind of horror still permeates the city, and probably has the region since it was Prussian.

Saturday: Went into the Home Depot, post-Costco, to find little flowers for our patch of dirt outside the apartment. We left with a trunkfull of potted flowers, seeds, small tools, and soil. My history with plants does not make me confident (the basil in my office is stalled at some flimsy almost-dead state), but the potted things look very nice in the ground right now. Let's hope these plants will be more fortunate left to nature than my houseplants.

Also a very lovely day for a summer dress and two long dog walks to Gasworks and then through campus.

Today: wandered through the Fremont Sunday market and found a very beautiful semi-frilly dresser for $140. Have to pick up tomorrow, and hopefully will be able to get it into and out of the Zipcar. But, I'm very excited, and happy to have found an Ikea-alternative.

$5 tour of Theo Chocolates, with Nate and Melissa, Trevor and Whitney. Interesting information, interesting flavors -- my favorites were a coconut curry dark chocolate and a "bread and chocolate" bar with teensy crumbles of salty, buttery baguette. Oooh, tasty.

$24 for a ribbon-tied stack of the mini factory's eight interesting 3400 Phinney flavored bars. Also, wore hairnets.

Then, Brouwer's for exotic beer and classy comfort food. Had a traditional Belgian (?) stew and a framboise. Looks like beer, tastes like jam.

Matt joined us (and I was a bit jealous of his croque monsieur), and said something about Radiohead coming to Whiteriver this summer. Not sure if I want to sit on the lawn for cheaper tickets, or pay more for a seat a bit closer. Or if I really need to see them again, at my present exaggeratedly-elderly 24 -- nothing will ever beat the greatest condert and the Gorge ever, and I don't know if I can thoroughly appreciate the band except in my own private nostalgic moments. But maybe.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I joined Jill and a few of her friends for dinner at Purple. She was turning 22. At some point between discoveries that one friend was "one of our undergrads" at work, and that most of the table was closer to my sister's age, I felt old to be approaching 25.

(This was nullified today when a woman sat down in my office and said, "You look like a young adviser." How do I reply? "You look like a young mom for a college freshman." No, no. I'll assume it's a compliment of some sort.)

My approval is not hard to win, but Purple impressively managed to be packed and upscale while still being cozy, not too noisy, and reasonably priced ($20 risotto; $11 pizzas, $3-5 cheese selection). Interesting ingredients spicing up common food (braised wild boar on orecchiette, lobster and gruyere mac and cheese). Service had it's lulls, but the guy was really friendly, and he knew his cheese.

I skipped the afterparty. Being old, you know.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Chocolate zucchini cupcakes

In which I explore ways to avoid bathing.

Maybe I'm becoming slovenly. I doubt it, really, but I sure don't feel like washing my hair today. Blame laziness, fading haircolor, and water conservation efforts. So, I'm explored two solutions to the greasy flatness of not shampooing:

1: The Up Do. Yesterday -- post-Crow, pre-ballet -- Melissa and I talked about long hair: growing it, styling it, layers, waves, ponytails, braids, pros and cons. I was mostly complaining about the lack of style, the imperfect layers, and fading color, and she asked if I ever wore it up. Nope. But this morning, since I couldn't think of a good reason why not to, I got out the bobby pins and Air Control.

Not wearing it up doesn't mean I haven't experimented in the privacy of my own home. I know from a traumatic adolescent realization that low ponytails make me look like my aunt Zoe if she were an overweight nun, while pulling my hair high to the crown of my head and giving it a little height hints that I may actually have cheekbones.

But plain ponytails are for the gym, in my opinion, so I pulled the top half high, and teased the right side to even out a cowlick on the left, and pinned in place. Since I hear buns are librarian-chic right now, I swirled the rest around on itself, pinned and hairsprayed furiously, and went in to show Brian. "Look!" I said, and he replied, "Oooh, yes. New jeans?"

The do looked a good mix of polished and careless. It stayed in place while I walked to U Village, picked up ingredients for Vietnamese fresh rolls for tonight, and shopped for under-eye concealer (uug) and my next solution:

2: Dry Shampoo. I usually love the way my hair looks the day after washing -- until about 10 am, when the greasies cross the fine line between keeping frizzies under control to clumping into day-old emo-looking roots. So while I'm skeptical that a white chemically powder can really make my hair look great, I'm also a willing consumer. So when my search for a decent concealer began to bottom out, and I overheard one of the rare helpful Sephora SAs talking to another lady about dry shampoos, I decided to jump on the bandwagon.

In your hand, a powdery drop of Oscar Blandi dry shampoo feels silky, and when rubbed in disappeared except for a slight film -- something like soap residue. It was easier to use than I'd expected. I puffed a spot onto my hand, then rubbed into the roots with my fingertips. It disappeared, taking the greasy shine with it.

Even when I puffed it directly into my roots, it blended in completely. Definitely not as finicky a product as I'd have guessed -- despite being the kind of magical treatment that would be tempting to apply a ton of, I think it'd actually be kinda hard to apply noticeably too much.

The smell is OK. Brian gave it a sniff and seemed uninterested but unoffended, which is just fine for a shampoo, as far as I'm concerned. My hair definitely does not feel clean -- if anything, it feels more gunked up now that I imagine it coated with a greasy-powerdy paste. But it actually looks pretty great -- just like it does in those few magical moments between over-washed frizzy and unwashed-greasy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I like Who What Wear, and I've been checking it long enough to know they pull out some ridiculous, beyond-trendy recommendations (one-piece neon jump-suit with chest ruffles? Mary Kate and Ashley obsession?) But this collage of jeweled crowns has to be my fave bad idea in a while. Not headbands, of which I am a fan, but crowns. Apparently this means a stripe of spangles strapped around the whole head, over the hair a la cheap '70s hippie costume. I'm not sure if it's more Studio 54 or Sanrio, but I am sure that as much as I like a lazy, unwashed hair solution and sparkles, I won't be who-what-wearing it any time soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When I saw Obama speak in Seattle a couple months ago, I was moved by the collective energy of 21,000 people sitting next to me. His words were convincing but predictable, genuine but rehearsed through repeated presentations of the same words on stages across America. Certainly, it was not the same old politics of previous elections; but it was most likely the same old speech he'd given over the last few months.

We expect our politicians to reiterate certain predictable ideologies; we know when to clap and cheer and stand. We want change, but not to the extent that we'd put our faith in a presidential hopefull who shocked or surprised us too much. Obama's words are good, but they are good within very strict confines of US democracy.

Obama's recent Philadelphia speech on race and politics is something new -- not so much in the ideas, which have of course been discussed before in greater detail, but because I've never heard a person of such influence and authority articulate with such clarity these greater struggles and social dynamics.

I think the restrictions of what we expect from political speeches help keep Obama's message here accessible and intelligent, without diluting or sterilizing the issues beyond recognition. It is precision, not sugar-coating. We want a realitively quick speech (37 minutes is a lot of listening even for me), we want some good sound bites, and we want our own opinions validated. We want to understand what he's saying even if we're distracted checking our email and folding laundry at the same time. We want to feel compelled, without feeling uncomfortably angry at our culture. Many people in many positions -- professors, preachers, educational administrators, students -- could rant about race in America for hours. But no one wants to hear that. Obama meets the demands of a fickle contemporary audience, while addressing race in America with outstanding authority and gravity.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Vancouver is excellent. I was quite tired of work by the end of last week, and I think the fancy times up here with Brian this weekend, plus the work-related medium-fancy times of the conference the next couple days will be a perfect little break.

Lots of walking around and eating out with Brian. A very disjointed drive up Saturday (stops for UPS, coffee, gas, bagels, lunch with Caitie, waiting at the boarder), then we explored a little, then had excellent tasty dinner + drinks at some bistro between on the cusp of the sketchy neighborhood.

Sunday: breakfast of perfectly almost-over-toasted French toast, then a shoe-buying expedition, then the newly-remodeled aquarium and a drive through the park.

It was chilly, but stayed dry until we found the craft commune of Granville Island -- drizzly is not good for tourism. We forced ourselves to walk through the little village of arts and nicknacks until early dinner. Excellent bread and Canadian peach cider, good crab cake to start, but some kind of weird bits in one of my scallops that I may never get over. If this city has ruined scallops for me, I firmly take back my "Vancouver is excellent."

Today, Pookie left at 8ish, so I got ready for a big day of no plans. Realized I left accidentally sent my umbrella home in the car, so went out and bought a new (and better) one at some drug store. Certainly, in Canada I've heard more sales rep and cashier people with clear recently-immigrated accents than I've ever heard ever in the states.

Tried shopping, but nothing peaked my interest until ... Zara. What a mecca! Everything beautiful! How have I spent years shopping and never seen this place? Everything gorgeous but reasonably priced, trendy but not cheapo, good quality, decent fit. Had to visit the fitting room twice to try everything on. And, wonderfully, went out today thinking of a trench coat, and came back with a perfect one. Love a belted waist and a big collar. Somehow, though, managed moderation and only bought three things: that coat, dark work pants, and a little black casual dress. Has bows at the waist. Possibly I'll be drawn back in for some shoes before I leave -- there were some amazing ones, if only they have my size ...

The Vancouver Art Gallery coat check lady was one of the rudest service people I've ever encountered, and we barely spoke. I can only guess she was jealous of my fabulous hair. The building is lovely -- very nice to see how a piece of classical architecture fits seamlessly in a very modern-architecture city. Some video installation, some tree stuff, much pictorialism that I looked through diligently without being moved. Was worth $15 because I had nothing better to do and it could be considered a donation toward Art.

Finally it was time for some work-related mingling. Flatironed my hair, then went cashless to the foyer on the third floor, where I clinged to the first group of approachable ladies I saw, until I heard the bar was accepting debit cards. Got me a G+T, then clumped with UW advisers till someone suggested we head to the hotel bar. Had another couple rounds and talked about college-related stuff there till someone suggested we go to bed. Now here I am. Typing way past my bedtime.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Newly-engaged Melissa sent a link to an event lodge on the water (coincidentally very near Brian's parents' Suquamish home), and after spinning around in the 360-degree "tours" for a minute, I looked up the rates.

$3,495.00 for a Saturday evening is a lot of cash, but $4 "linen charge" per place setting? $.75 per chair for the ceremony? $75 for Cake Table Set-up and Cutlery? I thought chairs and napkins were natural occurrences at event locations, like leaves in the forest or magazines in waiting rooms. Plus dress, hair, makeup, shoes, manicure, bowties, cufflinks, flowers, placecards, invitations, photos, music, bar, champagne flutes (or Otter Pops, if you're our acquaintances), honeymoon, transportation, days off work, rings, gym membership to stay dress-sized, hair color and facial serums to hide signs of aging caused by wedding-planning stress ... Nate thinks he had a rough time planning and pulling off the flower-petals-on-the-beach proposal. I hope they set a date for next spring, so they have plenty of planning time and aren't too stressed.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Success at Vain yesterday!

In the excitement of walking downtown during the middle of the work day, I passed a lot full of trailers that apparently belong to a Jennifer Aniston movie being filmed at the Market. According to the Seattle Times, the movie's "about a self-help guru who comes to Seattle for a workshop and meets a florist played by Aniston." Oooh. Well. I'm sure her hair will look nice.

Maybe as nice as mine!

Melissa's recommendation for Jennifer C at Vain was excellent. The lady was friendly and far less fake than the haircolors going on at that place (apparently spring is the time for neon for Seattle's hipsters). She asked plenty of questions so there was no confusion over what I wanted. Despite Melissa's horror stories of waiting forever multiple times a the salon, my appointment started right on time.

My only real issue is a reoccurring one: how much to tip. If I'm already paying $160 for two hours of (albeit very good) service, and I'm fairly confidant most of that money is going to the stylist, do I really need to tip 20%? I hope not, because I never do. But even 10% boosts my bill almost $20! By the time I'm signing for the total, I could have funded another 6 years of bottle-black dye from Bartells. But every other moment except this, I'm glad I got past that flat black curtain of boring.

Uff. Such a tough life.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The white light of 7am and the spray of pastel blossoms across the south side of the street made this morning look like snow. Fortunately, temperatures were warmer, and I was comfortably warm as I walked up the block to miss my second bus of the morning.

After watching the 6:30 #31 race by at 6:27, I decided to screw my second-to-last spinning class of the quarter (OK because I'm taking it again in Spring) and got ready at home. It's weird to put on makeup alone in a bathroom now -- on weekends and my rare skipped workout day, I vaguely miss my weekday mornings surrounded by gym ladies. And of course the bright fluorescence and big mirrors of the IMA; it's hard to tell what color lipstick I'm putting on in our windowless bathroom with uneven lighting and smudgy mirrors.

Getting a haircut and color today! Very excited to do something darker. These blond splotches are not me. Hopefully Melissa's recommendation of Jennifer Cassidy at Vain will pay off -- her cut turned out well, but she had no experience with her doing color.

It's not 7:48. If I leave now, I may actually make this bus.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Project Runway

Another season is over. The final runway shows seem less climactic each time, and I'm less smitten with the designers and their designs.

Rami's collection: Beautiful. Mature. Love the dress with the skirt woven into the bodice. Not sure about his colors, but I could see wearing some things here.

Most of the designers on the show come up with some generic narrative, but he introduces this collection saying it celebrates women, and I can actually see that. I want him to win. But this is TV, and Christian is obviously everyone's favorite.

When I look over the collections now, I actually am more torn between Christian and Rami -- on this 15" monitor instead of the 60" TV, the nice details of Rami's are lost, and the excess of Christian's is subdued, to his benefit.

Jillian's collection: I didn’t really like Jillian as a TV personality, but I still expected something better than this. It looks very amateur. What’s attractive is not original, what’s original is not attractive. Disjointed. She clearly will not win. I would much rather have seen Chris here.

Christian's collection: Christian and his designs make me think of Austin Scarlett, the super-flamboyant designer I loved the first time around, and who I thought got kicked off too soon. So why don't I like Christian the most now?

Maybe too fierce? Would be interesting to see the martketable version – I’m not sure if the “wow” here is because it’s all bigger than everyone else's work, or because it’s actually interesting.

The beige and brown ruffle/tube dress looks like a pastry.

In the end, I think he pulls this all off as a runway show – and pulling off something almost laughable is impressive – but I’m not sure it translates into something I'd like to wear.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscars and weather

Somehow, the Oscars were enjoyable to watch even though I didn't particularly care about any of the awards except that Marion Cotillard won best actress. Her teary, gibbrishy acceptance "speech" was, aside from Delice de Bourgogne, the highlight of the evening.

Daniel Day-Lewis' win also made me happy, though not as happy as if he had been as striking in reality as his character was in There Will Be Blood. I was equally disappointed to see Johnny Depp looking completely goofy -- his lack of excellent movies this year plus his Where's Waldo glasses and hair make me wonder what was so exciting about him a year or so ago.

Also, I think the high stance on Javier Bardem's jacket makes his already-large head look enormous. Not that the most attractive man at the event can't pull off a giant head.

Was at first very turned off by Tilda Swinton wearing apparently no make-up. Then I decided this plus simple hair and a garbage-sack dress were possibly a feminist statement against female objectification, and found it all quite appealing.

Am very happy to not need multiple layers, gloves, umbrella everywhere I go. Today I wore just a thin hoody over gym clothed to meet the 6:30 bus, and was not chilly at all! With pink blossoms outside my window, spring has appeared very suddenly after what seems like a long delay. May dig up floral print cardigan soon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

political narrative

I'm watching the 60 Minutes interviews with Clinton and Obama, and while they're longer and more detailed than most Today Show and Daily Show blurbs, they still play out the same: He laughs politely at the presumptuous questions, a voice-over narrates his whisper-in-Springfield-to-a-movement campaign; She respectfully defends her experience and abilities against the sudden and increasing threat of new charisma and Hope, until finally a familiar defensiveness is established and it seems the reporter has become her opponent. Obama's interview is a conversation, while her's verges on interrogation.

And while Obama's interview focuses on his campaign, Clinton's focuses on ... his campaign.

Is it media bias, or is Clinton so thoroughly uncharming that she's incapable of carrying her own narrative? Does the president need a narrative, or is this personal fairytale we look for in Obama disconnected from the ability to be a strong leader? The only way I can account for G W Bush's appeal is his comfortably low-brow persona. Disregarding platform, is electing Obama on charisma, mixed-race heritage, and a big smile comparably ignorant to electing Bush based on down-to-earthiness, political heritage, and an easy laugh?

But it degrades Obama's true potential and ability to reduce him to a megawatt smile and hope, etc. In an era when everyone, everyone, is rallying for change, maybe the point is not to elect someone with the most popular opinions or the most skill, but a competent someone who is in essence clearly distinct from our last 20 years of Bushes and Clintons. Her sameness goes beyond her last name, and her gender is not enough to make her truly different.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Weekend: Part 2 -

Saturday evening, Brouwer's was crowded, so we met Nate + Melissa on the sidewalk and decided on Ballroom, across the street. We should have ran when clearly the music was loud for conversation, the plastic cups they brought with a pitcher were shipped and wet, and the menu offered only Costco frozen fried food.

Alas, we stayed. We stayed through the first pitcher, we stayed when the tube tops and sequins paraded through, and we stayed when the music became even louder remixes that made bad songs worse. Our waitress was impossible to find, and our second pitcher was impossible to finish. We left.

Sunday, I woke up late, organized my makeup drawer, and moved a laundry basket around the living room without actually folding the clothes. We went to breakfast at the Rusty Pelican around 2 -- strawberry and yogurt crepes, sans whipped creme and "tropical" sauce, were delicious, though the waiter was overly goofy and a grown woman made a face at Brian over the top of the booth.

Last time we went, we sat in the same booth, Brian talked about jobs, and I was a little distressed about his search. It's been about a month, and suddenly he's starting at Microsoft in less than a week. Excitement! Fanciness!! Crepes!

U Village, home, then more tastiness at McCormick and Schmick's. I really wish it was either not a big chain or at least had a more palatable name -- I've loved it both times we've been, but something just doesn't feel perfect to me. Fortunately the food (except our unfortunate mass of lumpy calamari last time) pretty much is.

Then, da da da dum! Lost!!! We've waited so long! So much stress! Could it reclaim it's creepy sci-fi pseudo-philosophical place in our hearts after so much time, and with only seven episodes for a season? It was pretty excellent, the hour-long reminder episode was helpful, and I almost threw the popcorn bowl at Buster in more than one scary moment.

Weekend: Part 1 - Ballet, Brahmin, Birthday

Weekends rarely feel long -- somehow both an excess and an absence of activity can make them pass too too quickly. My past Friday through Sunday, however seemed to stretch a week long, a virtual parade of friends, family, art, entertainment, and lots of food.

Friday I met Melissa for dinner at Crow before the ballet. It was fantastic. I loved every bite I could squeeze in of my mushroom/kale/squash risotto, and then I tried her incredible roast chicken. Delicious oil and vinegar with the (unfortunately tough) bread, and interesting cocktails. A bit pricey ($28+tip per person), but good atmosphere and not obscenely packed or slow pre-show, a major plus near the Center.

We've all read Romeo and Juliet at least a couple times in public school, and have seen the Leonardo DiCaprio/Claire Danes version if nothing else. Even if we haven't, I think the basic premise is ingrained in every American female's psyche by the age of seven. It's the ultimate love story, right? Tragic and beautiful.

So I was both excited to attend a ballet which I was sure I could follow along, and a little uncertain what I'd take away from a reiteration of such a well-known story.

I was also uncertain of Prokofiev's composition, which I played on repeat for three days in preparation. Lush, sweet, tinkling melodies like two chiffon-laced ballerinas prancing through the mist? No. It's a circus, upbeat and loud, crashing and overly-excited. Interesting, but not my idea of romance.

So the curtain opens on a smooth white set, bare except footprints, and the dancers emerge in spare dark and light costumes. We begin with the friar, in my mind a round bald man in a heavy brown robe, here definitely the most interesting and attractive character in the performance. His initial impassioned thrusts set the tone for the evening, vigorous and spontaneous.

With dancers, the score is not chaotic or hard to follow -- it is narrative, and entirely appropriate. Melissa suggests something about youth, and I realize this is not a love story, not the romance novel I read in high school, but a story of overzealous youth, irresponsible and irrepressible. I'm struck by how quickly the story unfolds, how ridiculous their actions are, how when we begin Romeo is chasing a different girl. It's still beautiful and poignant, but I leave feeling sad rather than smitten -- sad and old.

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Saturday I peruse the Rack pre-hair-appointment, and am heading for the door when I see a fresh rack of assorted handbags. I spy a very leathery hide that must belong to a Brahmin, and am ecstatic to find it is in fact my coveted brand, reasonably priced. (Which for me means it does not produce internal debate, nor am I embarrassed to admit the price in public. Later, I confirm MSRP is about $300 more.) My slight hesitance that it's a bit small for me vanishes when I think of how I've been watching Macy's since I first saw the bags, and have seen one Brahmin on sale once. And so I clutch it to my person and look around furtively at other shoppers who may poach my catch, and in a materialistic display that would make our president proud I step into the checkout line with my wallet out.

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Hair appointment, then Flexcar to Darrington where 18" of snow in my parents' driveway forces me to park early and my stepdad to come pick me up. My mom and Caitie are Wiiing in the living room, my stepdad's present for her 52nd. I take charge making fondue, which everyone scoops up by my stepdad -- he takes a few bites, then clearly decides to wait for something more meaty and traditional. I also take charge of cake, because I'm on a schedule, then I'm out the door and chasing my high-beams back to civilization.