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let’s make art!

25 Oct

holy bejeezus i am needing this.

when i was little, i would have TREASURED this little guided art book. these days, nothing has changed. i’m seriously considering grabbing one of these. how wonderful would this be to bust out during a 10 minute break during the middle of a crazy hectic work day? 

brillant concept and execution, marian deuchars! Let’s Make Great Art can be bought via laurence king publishing.

what’s your favorite? i can’t decide.

though i do LOVE putting birds on things. i could see myself drawing that lil fellow all over my notebook and planner.

big girls do cry.

10 Oct

we’ve all done it at some point. and for those of us who live in a big city, we’ve most likely cried in public at least once in our adult life.

during my first year living in chicago i went through the full gamut of emotions, a challenging new job, adjusting to life without my family 20 minutes away, a break-up with a long-term boyfriend. so the tears were more expected then. but as i’ve come to find after living in chicago for over three years, my “city girl” shell cracks every so often; and when it does, it doesn’t seem to matter whether i’m in my bedroom or walking down busy michigan avenue.

take my epic commute home on the 148 bus on march 1st, 2010. the story starts earlier that day. a boy with whom i’d come to be thick-as-thieves told me over grilled cheese and cokes at the diner on wabash & monroe, that he was leaving his job. we’d worked together for two years, over which we’d gone from mentor-mentee, to work friends, to best pals. we were desk buddies, coffee dates, lunch conversation. i’d come to expect his familiar smile each morning, the way he would slide into view across the desk when looking for a chat break, and the seat he filled next to me at our weekly team meetings. and though i knew he needed to move on to pursue a career in his true passion, i felt something jolt inside me as he divulged his news of leaving.

everything stopped. i don’t remember the last half of lunch–paying the check, walking back to the office in a blur. i tried to hide my emotions. i was largely successful…until i got on the bus home. and that’s when it happened. right there on the 148 express from state & lake all the way to irving & marine, i cried. with the rain falling outside and fleetwood mac playing on my ipod, i let down my guard and finally let myself react. i cried deep silent tears openly and without hesitation at the realization that i’d fallen in love with this boy. how could i not have seen it? and now he was leaving, and work would be different, and would it make me want to leave to? would he ever love me back? i cried for all of those hard questions that had no answers on that day. it didn’t matter if someone was sitting behind or across from me. the backdrop went hazy and i finally felt alone and unguarded for the first time all day.

as melissa febos so eloquently states in her op-ed article, look at me, i’m crying, when living in a city, we find ways to make public spaces more familiar, more private. i’ve 1200ft of personal space and as febos accounts, there are times when public space outside the home feels more private than a shared apartment. my daily commute, shopping trips, and afternoon strolls are all shared with countless strangers. yet, to me, they’ve become my “me” time. i’m sure many a city dweller will agree, these are truly moments when we feel alone despite the how obviously public the space.

i’m happy to say that in the coming year i found answers to all the questions from my bus ride home on march 1. that boy does love me back, and we now share a home together. work without my best friend felt different at first, but is much better in the long run. god knows i was chatting with that boy far too much! i’ll always remember that bus ride home. it changed my life.

the privacy we find in public is an endearing part of city life. adapting to our surroundings is a key part of keeping our emotional sanity in this urban jungle. once you learn the ropes of living in the city, home & personal space aren’t just in your apartment, they’re anywhere you can find solitude & quiet time for reflection. a place to feel alone.

be it on the el train or in a favorite cafe, the familiar spots in our routine become comforting and personal; so much so, that when we need, we can let our guard down. sometimes even big girls need to cry.

flick chicks & the klutz.

4 Oct

mindy kaling is close to topping my list of favorite hollywood ladies. better watch out tina fey, this girl is movin’ on up. in a recent new yorker article, flick chicks, kaling digresses on her obsession and fascination with romantic comedies, one i’ve similarly harbored for years. she expounds on the characters we encounter in the zany alternate universe in which these stories exist. because, we can all agree, it surely isn’t reality.

kaling says in this article, all those things i’ve been thinking about rom-coms for years. i nearly fell off the bed laughing when the boy read this quote aloud:

    I regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world operates according to different rules than my regular human world. For me, there is no difference between Ripley from “Alien” and any Katherine Heigl character. They are equally implausible. They’re all participating in a similar level of fakey razzle-dazzle, and I enjoy every second of it.


my favorite rom-com character profile, as described by mindy, is most certainly her depiction of “the klutz”:

    When a beautiful actress is cast in a movie, executives rack their brains to find some kind of flaw in the character she plays that will still allow her to be palatable. She can’t be overweight or not perfect-looking, because who would pay to see that? A female who is not one hundred per cent perfect-looking in every way? You might as well film a dead squid decaying on a beach somewhere for two hours.
    So they make her a Klutz.
    The hundred-per-cent-perfect-looking female is perfect in every way except that she constantly bonks her head on things. She trips and falls and spills soup on her affable date (Josh Lucas. Is that his name? I know it’s two first names. Josh George? Brad Mike? Fred Tom? Yes, it’s Fred Tom). The Klutz clangs into stop signs while riding her bike and knocks over giant displays of fine china in department stores. Despite being five feet nine and weighing a hundred and ten pounds, she is basically like a drunk buffalo who has never been a part of human society. But Fred Tom loves her anyway.

this hilarious & articulate description of the most common of rom-com prototypes could not have come at a more perfect time. over the past two weeks i’ve been hemming and hawing over my final call of fox’s new prime-time sitcom, the new girl, starring zooey deschanel.

my poor boyfriend has heard many a dissertation on the subject. i admittedly foster a complicated relationship with ms. deschanel. while i adore her aesthetic & soulful sounds, i can’t seem to stomach her personality, the branded “cuteness”, or the blunt & slightly unfriendly interview demeanor. i’m constantly perplexed when masked rudeness is perceived by journalists as lovable. personality opinions aside, i’ve considered zooey’s new gig with as unbiased opinion as possible.

style icon and indie pop goddess, check. sitcom carrying comedian, she is not. the show is failing me for many reasons, all of which are summarized extremely well in lindsey bahr’s recent post on the subject via the junior varsity. but the most offensive trait of the new girl is the branding of zooey’s character, jess, as an awkward, lewd, geeky, klutz. i’m sorry fox, but i’m just not buying what you’re selling here.

the show is definitely marketed to women just like me, those vintage loving, sundress wearing girls who wish they could exist in the setting of 500 days of summer. but here’s the thing about “those girls”, they are educated. they aren’t just style conscious indie sweethearts, they are intelligent and thoughtful. they will consider the whole picture and formulate their own opinion of the entirety of a piece of work. this is exactly why jess’s character falls completely flat.

we are meant to believe that this gorgeous elementary school teacher has travelled through twenty-odd years of life and education unaware of social norms, etiquette, beauty and femininity. i’m sorry but there is NO WAY IN HELL that jess would have perfectly curled hair during the middle of a week long emotional breakdown spent glued to the couch with tissues & dirty dancing. trust me, i’ve been in this place. there are no curlers & mascara. there are only brownies and edy’s maxx. and as bahr points out, it is inconceivable that this perfectly styled vintage sundress wearing pixie would even dream of donning overalls to a date.

this isn’t a rant, this is a plea. please fox, stop forcing this unbelievable and ridiculously unreal character down our throats. we’re tuning-in to watch zooey. turn her into someone we can side with, who we would befriend rather than grimace at, someone who we want to see find love.

i’ll keep watching, with hope…for now.

wise albert.

22 Sep

the help.

20 Sep

i just wrapped up reading one of the best fictional books that i’ve read in a long time, The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

set in jackson, mississippi during the early 1960s, The Help tells the life story of african american women working as maids for white households and one white girl who wants to understand the neglected side of the story. The Help is told through 3 points of view: the hard-headed, sassy, [& tormented] minnie, wise and nurturing aibleen who has seen a lifetime of hurt and suffering, and eugenia ‘skeeter’, a privileged recent college graduate who sees the need for change.

to say that i didn’t cry or hold back tears (in public places) countless times while reading this novel would be a lie. the compelling stories of love, loss, persecution, cruelty, compassion and human connection during the darkest of times weave in and out of every page. they force you to confront a time and place you didn’t know, couldn’t know, but now can now understand a little clearer.

the highlight of this novel, and what the characters come to see, can be found in this one line: “we are just two people. not that much separates us. not nearly as much as i’d thought.”

stockett puts it perfectly in the post-novel note:

i don’t presume to think that i know what it felt like to be a black woman in mississippi, especially in the 1960s. i don’t think it is something any white woman on the other end of a black woman’s paycheck could ever understand. but trying to understand is vital to our humanity.

The Help has been made into a film and is currently showing in theaters. watch the trailer below. i haven’t seen the movie yet, but it won’t be long.

have you read the book or seen the film? i’d love to hear your interpretations and reactions.

keep calm & carry on.

31 Aug

the history in europe seems much more alive and tangible than in the united states. perhaps it is because the buildings & museums are older, and perhaps because the wars that tore through europe greatly affected central london.

whatever the reason, you can feel history here. it is part of street you walk on.

during the second world war the ministry of defense was tasked by the british government to create morale booting posters. the target: a seriously miserable britain under the threat of impending invasion. three posters were created & released during the first weeks of WWII, all of which were completely lost in the shuffle of history and war until 2000, when a british shop owner uncovered the first of the set below.

the ‘keep calm and carry on’ poster has undoubtedly seen the greatest revival of the series. the design makes me melt. and even more so that its from 1939.

but let’s dig a little deeper…

a few years ago i came across a little book, titled after the poster above, full of inspirational quotes for help through troubled times as delivered by famous politicians, poets, authors, and the like.

here are some of my favorites, on lend for when you might need to borrow one on a rough day.

“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.” – Laurence J Peter

“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine” – Lord Byron

“The best way through is always out” – Robert Frost

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory” – Albert Schweitzer

“Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboat” – Voltaire

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. ” – George Bernard Shaw

“There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a cup of tea. ” –  Bernard-Paul Heroux

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose your own.” – Harry S. Truman

connecting the dots.

26 Aug

part of growing up is realizing that we have an uncharted path waiting ahead of us. for those of us lucky enough to have this freedom, we have infinite options for the direction that we can choose to take our life. we spend a vast majority of our first quarter-century learning, being guided by teachers and parents, ushered from one focused learning environment to the next until we come to the final phase of university.

and then what?

of course the guidance doesn’t end, and instead of teachers we find mentors in our wise coworkers, in relationships, and through the life-long experiences of our parents (who we now listen to!).  but still, the well-worn path which we’ve traveled for so long has ended.

this realization can be unsettling at the least. but it needn’t be that. as we travel down a new road–one less developed, less explored, and maybe a bit rocky at times, we find that navigating our twenties & young adulthood might not always be a cakewalk. but it is an adventure. an adventure we are lucky to have.

a dear friend recently sent me a commencement address delivered by steve jobs which focuses on exactly this topic.  jobs shares extremely relevant,  eloquent, and honest advice derived from his own life experiences.

below are my favorite snippets, but i suggest reading the entire address.

           on not trying to anticipate how the future is supposed to look:

…you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut,destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

on learning to turn our failures into a new beginning:

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

on never settling:

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

on death as a change agent for truly living life:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

incredible advice from an extraordinary man. i hope you enjoyed his words as much as i did.