OOTD: Getaway

OOTD 08 08 2017 AOOTD 08 08 2017 B

The spouse and I had a quick getaway weekend in Tucson a little bit ago. We stayed at Lodge On the Desert, a favorite boutique hotel with a wonderful pool and gorgeous courtyards. At some point we had to leave to find dinner, so I combined this dress I bought years ago from Newport News with a hand dyed silk cocoon wrap and FLY London wedges.

Book Review: Black Swan Green (Basic)

Black Swan Green

Black Swan Green, David Mitchell

[I have decided to start doubling up the reviews so that I can catch up, since I’m reviewing things I read over six months ago and don’t recall clearly].

That said, I read Black Swan Green right after I read How to Build a Girl, so while I appreciate it on a technical level, I also felt entirely impatient and tired of the “white boy coming-of-age” format, since WE HAVE SO MANY ALREADY. I’ve read Summer of 42 and Catcher in the Rye and all the other various and sundry classic coming of age stories, which is all well and good until I read How to Build a Girl and realized what I’ve been missing. Had my mind not been opened, I’d say this was quite well done; but now I guess I’m woke and it’s unsatisfying.  3 Stars.

Book Review: The Strain (Viscous)

The Strain

The Strain, Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

I shifted to The Strain after abandoning a science fiction novel that was killing me with how much I hated it. I expected it to be fairly light reading on the intellectual front. However, I did expect quality and frankly, that was largely absent. Naturally, one has to accept certain improbabilities if one is going to read a vampire story, and while the premise was a tad shaky, initially it was good enough. The first half of the book is setting up the scenario, and the airplane full of dead people is intriguing, as is the procedural aspect of the roles of TSA and the CDC, etc, if still seriously formulaic.

The trouble begins as the event unfolds into the result of this vampire contagion, where the book really breaks down into a series of predictable and boring scenarios of “another way to die by vampire and/or kill a vampire and splash a lot of yuck all over the place.” There are far too many commonalities with Walking Dead and it begins to feel exceptionally poorly imagined as the plot simply asks the reader to wade through a seemingly endless round of meeting new characters who have to die in a few pages. The reader loses touch with the main characters; their acceptance of vampire virus zombies happens too fast to be remotely believable, and the ending is so clearly a set up for the next book that one might wonder if a computer wrote this book and not a human. Also, whomever thought that the fluid that splashes out of the vampires in place of blood should be thick, white and viscous (and show up under black light) deserves 50 lashes for making it far too easy for a porn movie to do a..spoof? Tribute? Either way, there are things I don’t need to see gushing out of my vampire novel. One sad, solitary star.

OOTD: Breezy Caftan

OOTD 08 07 2017 AOOTD 08 07 2017 B

I always feel like I am cheating when I wear this caftan I made from a vintage sari. It looks so glam and feels so comfortable…..can this be? YES. Slow fashion, kids–reused, repurposed, I made it, it’s forever.

OOTD: Neverending $4 Target Dress

OOTD 08 02 2017 AOOTD 08 02 2017 B

The $4 Target dress is such a staple. It’s not “Slow Fashion” in the sense that it totally devalues labor, but in terms of having become a lasting (over ten years) garment it does meet some criteria. Slow Fashion is a new term for me, but I am very interested in the idea–that clothes should be well made, the person who made it should be paid fairly and it should last a long time rather than being seasonal. In that sense, fashion steps away from the manipulation of trend and becomes more personally meaningful.

Reflecting on a Life Long Mid-Life Crisis

I will turn 48 this month and while I hate being typical, I am being typical in that it’s eating my lunch. In part, this is due to realizing that I will be less than 7 years from the age at which my father died. That’s a shocker, although really it is only math. I am no more or less likely to die at my father’s age than any other–and the women in our family live into their 90s. On my mother’s side. Which is the side I am counting. Still, my tendency to the morbid makes me wonder what it would mean if I had only 7 years left. 

On second thought, let’s not think about that. Delete file. 

There is a great deal of patriarchy-inspired baggage that comes along with aging as a female. On the surface, a trifecta of concerns: Loss of sexual attractiveness, becoming invisible, looking old. I spend a lot of time lately disliking my body for various and sundry reasons that include being “fat” (don’t freak out, I’m coming right back to that to explain), being “ugly”, being “old”. 

On “fat”….I am not fat. I know this. I am bigger than you think I am because I don’t show you the bits that are large. As I have delved into this consciousness-raising that is body positivity, I have found a secondary trap: I can, really, truly, completely honestly love just about anyone else’s body. But not mine. It’s a situation of “growth:but”. Does your belly bother me? No. Your ass? Your cellulite? No and no. Your varicose veins (Okay, let’s be honest, mine bother me and yours bother me because they bother me in general)? I am bigger than I would like to be is what I want to say yet, if I unpack it a bit more, what I come up with is that I don’t feel healthy or strong. I feel soft and weak and therefore, old–but not wise and wonderful. “Fat” is just a stand-in word for “I don’t like myself.” 

I compounded this by going to see Atomic Blonde this past weekend. That is a fantastic movie, btw, met and exceeded all hopes and expectations in terms of every possible quality.  It also, though, brought up that feeling that much of entertainment does: I cannot possibly ever be that impossible combination of skinny, flawless, strong, bad ass, warrior superhero female. (Wonder Woman, I am sorry to say, did not make me feel this longing at all, and I entirely blame the costume and the decision that she never once got dirty no matter what she was doing). How much do I want to be Charlize Theron in that film? So much it hurts. Which exists right alongside the reality that even Charlize Theron can’t be Charlize Theron in that film. 

I have long (since the age of 6) relied on a serious fantasy life that I discuss with no one but that has allowed me to steal away from reality and become something I am not. It’s intensely private, and I mention it here only because it’s a way of pretending to be the thing I am not and can never be. The person I pretend to be in my fantasy world aged along with me from about 6 years old until around 30, 35, hell, maybe she’s 40, but not in the way that *I* am 40. She is now sort of ageless (for a fantasy, I tend to be very hard on myself for some of my continuity issues, this is my cosmic ability to ruin something for myself for no reason other than to continue the process of criticism I was raised with–I can interrupt a whole pleasant episode by getting concerned that I haven’t attached an exact age, and am I being true to myself by imagining a younger woman, etc). I remember when I was little, I worried about the normality of this fantasy life, this serial pretend story that I “wrote” in my head constantly and tried to obliquely ask my mother about it (whatever “oblique” is for an 8 year old) and wound up being told it was fine to “play pretend”. This was not satisfying, and I worried and still do that I am utterly WEIRD and probably pathological. I have never raised it in therapy because I don’t want to ruin it with analysis. But. It’s those times when I find myself mourning the fantasy and finding fault with reality that I feel, well, like I’ve been poisoned by the false expectations and requirements for being The Right Way and am just perpetuating that with my fantasy life. I mentioned I overthink things, right? I do that. 

No one is Charlize Theron in that film. No one is my fantasy self. Nowhere are we taught to be satisfied with what we are right here in the world. I try to say to myself that my body, it’s doing a damn good job of just keeping me alive, especially since I’ve got a lot of extra damage since I didn’t even start out with a complete set of collagen–from the get go 35-55% of my body’s protein is flawed. I should be celebrating every day that I get up and walk around, right? Yet, there rises the image of Charlize Theron, gritty, bruised, injured, raising her perfect body out of a tub of ice cubes and then her body double (guessing) naked at the mirror and I feel exquisitely not enough as the reality of, say, throwing up because my bath was too hot last week tries to run alongside that. 

So, maybe, 48 will be the year that I get closer to closing the gap between who I think I ought to be because of a toxic culture and who I *am* despite it–and find a place to feel okay about it. To remember that no one is what we are shown we should be. To grasp that it’s okay, more than okay, it’s fantastic to be right where I am. The year I stop worrying what people will think of my (gross weak eww) body and just go forward, unapologetically, with the packaging I’m in. To look at my body without thinking gross, weak, eww, and to not even care if that’s what someone else (a 20 year old who fears aging and fights it with savage critique, for example) might be thinking. That’s a tall order, I know. I sense in myself, though, a growing weariness with buying into not being enough. I suspect that means I am getting wise, even as I worrry it means I am getting old and will soon start wearing orthopedic shoes and sweat pants. I’ll save them for 50; although that may be only to burn them on a pyre made of birthday cake candles. 

OOTD: Sauce

OOTD 08 01 2017 AOOTD 08 01 2017 B

Let’s begin my birthday month with this saucy Free People top that is really a bit too small for me. My child is embarrassed by this top, and feels it is “too young” for me, to which I say, “Pffft. Wait’ll you see what I wear when I’m 90.”