shoe porn and other tidbits

I realized when I was straightening my closet yesterday that all my really expensive, pretty shoes were stuck in their bags (Comme il Fauts have their own bi-sectioned satin bags, did I mention?) and thrown in the bottom of my closet, while my less important pairs were displayed on the shelf.

Not so anymore. Next to each other like that, it's harder to believe I've spent $600 on tango shoes in the last year (most of it was from bonuses of one kind or another, but still).

So, so worth it.

Also, it’s not your imagination or a trick of the camera that makes that closet look pink. It is pink. The whole house was that awful color when we moved in, and we had to fight to get all the rooms painted . . . they of course didn’t bother with the closets.

. . .

Remember that post I made about Kate’s wedding, and how I suspected the dress design was stifled by the queen’s rules? Here’s an article by Rita Wilson (that’s Tom Hanks’ wife) about the dressing requirements for meeting the queen of England. Fucking insane.

. . .

Ernest Hemingway has been floating around a lot lately. First Colin brought home For Whom the Bell Tolls on the same day that I checked out The Paris Wife from the library (a great read, by the way), and now I stumble across a great series of photos.

This is my favorite; he's the one one the right. Here are the rest.


a week in pictures, pt. 2

Joley, with newly shorn hair and the tulle skirt her aunty bought her, giving a ride to her bunny.

A pocket-sized flask from World Market. So tiny!

Tak curled up on the back of the couch, her favorite spot in the evenings.

An evening tricycle ride, American flag in hand.

I love peonies. They even die gracefully. That one in front was as big as my hand.

Gladiolas and my dish for writing group: egg salad on garlic toast with roma tomato and fresh spinach.


it’s the sangria laughing.

We’ve had a lot of sangria at this point. I myself am working on my fourth glass, and that after downing quite quickly the remnants of the Sofia Coppola Riesling that Colin and I opened for brunch.

It is, once again, our Sunday writing group. We’ve spent the last two years together—gaining and losing a few members along the way—changing our format until we evolved into a sort of pot luck dinner party/writing time/sharing time model.

I cannot tell you how good this writing group has been for me. For one, it ensures that I do actually write something every so often. For another, it has been instrumental in helping me keep my house clean on a regular basis (like my students, I need deadlines, or I have difficulty keeping up with the work). For a third, and probably most significantly, these people have very quickly become a social group I rely on—and will sorely miss when we dissolve away (slowly, I expect, as most things do).

At some point in the last few months, Taylor started bringing jugs of Carlo Rossi Sangria to our group. Tonight we went through the first one so quickly that Colin, thoughtful, loving man that he is, went and got another (four liters!).

As a result, we are now delightfully giggly, and when the cat wandered in a particular way across the living room, Tracy fell into such laughter that the rest of us followed and it was a long time until order was restored.

I suppose I am feeling nostalgic. Two of our six members will be leaving at the end of next month. April is moving to Ohio; the idea of having her Skype in to our writing group next year has been brought up at least twice tonight. Tracy got a job in Phoenix, but seemed to seriously consider driving down here to attend. (A three hour round trip for a three hour writing group with these folks? Totally justifiable.)

If we continue next year (and it seems we will, even if missing a member or two), things will have to evolve. As all things do.

Change is good, often good. And so I will try not to be too sad that so many of my friends seem to be leaving, are finding jobs elsewhere, some as far as half the world away. My time will come soon enough, I guess, and there’s always the internet, purveyor of long-distance friendships the world over.

So here’s a glass raised to writing, to friendships, to sangria, to our last or next to last night spent, as this group, the way things are now, typing away together in comfortable, slightly tipsy, almost sacred silence.


untitled poem

I keep forgetting,
I stay forgetful
of the storm that shields us
from the sky.
And under that canopy you smile me,
you slyly smile me into a moment.
I'd say more, you know
but the rest
(you know the rest)
the rest is private.
Kept between you and I,
under the storm.

~Jonas Samuelle


things I like this week, vol. 11

In honor (and in irony) of the forecast being 110 today.

* * *
The world remains beautiful and terrible at the same time, and either way, I know it doesn’t care what I think or feel about it. There are things to do to help others, and there are things that may never change. But if I learned anything from all of this, it’s my first, oldest lesson as a reader: There is always going to be a book that saves you.
From "I, Reader," by Alexander Chee

* * *

I heart Michelangelo.

Especially since, not only was he good, he managed to insult people while doing it.

* * *

So pretty. Although, next time I buy shoes, I need to get something outside of the black/beige/gold/silver neutral family. It's just silly, otherwise.

* * *

All different patterns, made out of gourds.

* * *

Pretty houses in Buenos Aires, with gorgeous wood floors. Stolen from the facebook albums of friends luckier than I.


scent, pt. 2

Question from Frédéric Malle's online questionnaire:

Which perfumes have most marked you?


I danced with a man once who had just been dancing with his lover; he smelled like himself, but also of her pure rose perfume. Up until that moment, I always associated rose with old women, but now I think of it as her sinuous, dark beauty--and also as the smell of a man who had been indelibly claimed.

a follow-up to pt. 1


Ode to Wine

Day-colored wine,
night-colored wine,
wine with purple feet
or wine with topaz blood,
starry child
of earth,
wine, smooth
as a golden sword,
as lascivious velvet,
wine, spiral-seashelled
and full of wonder,
never has one goblet contained you,
one song, one man,
you are choral, gregarious,
at the least, you must be shared.
At times
you feed on mortal
your wave carries us
from tomb to tomb,
stonecutter of icy sepulchers,
and we weep
transitory tears;
spring dress
is different,
blood rises through the shoots,
wind incites the day,
nothing is left
of your immutable soul.
stirs the spring, happiness
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
and rocky cliffs,
chasms close,
as song is born.
A jug of wine, and thou beside me
in the wilderness,
sang the ancient poet.
Let the wine pitcher
add to the kiss of love its own.

My darling, suddenly
the line of your hip
becomes the brimming curve
of the wine goblet,
your breast is the grape cluster,
your nipples are the grapes,
the gleam of spirits lights your hair,
and your navel is a chaste seal
stamped on the vessel of your belly,
your love an inexhaustible
cascade of wine,
light that illuminates my senses,
the earthly splendor of life.

But you are more than love,
the fiery kiss,
the heat of fire,
more than the wine of life;
you are
the community of man,
chorus of discipline,
abundance of flowers.
I like on the table,
when we're speaking,
the light of a bottle
of intelligent wine.
Drink it,
and remember in every
drop of gold,
in every topaz glass,
in every purple ladle,
that autumn labored
to fill the vessel with wine;
and in the ritual of his office,
let the simple man remember
to think of the soil and of his duty,
to propagate the canticle of the wine.

--Pablo Neruda


the girly post

A friend told me today, unexpectedly, that I needed to help her be more girly. When I asked what that meant, she said fashion, make-up, acting like a girl. The last one I don't really know how to touch, but the first two I can handle alright, and I thought I'd share.

Find underwear you feel pretty in.

And that fits and are practical enough that you can wear them on regular days. Good underwear/bra combos are the basis for everything. If you know you look good without your clothes on, you'll look better while you're wearing them, too. Save a few of the ugly, plain cotton ones for days when you don't want to ruin the good ones, and toss the rest. If putting it on doesn't make you feel good, there's no point.

Buy a short satin or silk robe.

You have a robe, probably. It's probably terry or fleece and warm but supremely unflattering. Get a satin one and wear it around the house during "lounge" time. It's no more effort than the ugly one, and makes a good deal of difference. Leave soft blankets around the couch or your favorite chair to curl up in if you get cold.

Get some cute things to sleep in.

I don't mean flyaway babydolls or corsets. They have their place, but sleeping isn't it. Boxers and a tshirt are comfy, but so are tap pants and a cami, and those are infinitely prettier. Short nightgowns are also a good plan, and again, take very little effort.

Upgrade from your sneakers.

Sneakers, as European women know (and Americans seem to ignore), make everything else you're wearing look sloppy. Get some pretty ballet flats, and a pair or two of heels you can actually walk in (nude and black pairs are most versatile). Instead of cheap, boring flipflops, get pretty sandals instead (thin leather strapped ones are so much better). Save the sneakers for working out.

On a related note: learn to walk in heels.

This means, first, buying heels you can walk in. When you stand straight in a pair of heels, the weight of your foot should be on your heel, NOT on your toes or ball of your foot. If it is, don't buy them, no matter how cute they are, because you won't be able to wear them for more than a few minutes without pain.

When you walk, put your heel down first, then your toe. Make sure your shoulders are rolled back and down.

The accessories make the outfit.

Really. The difference between looking polished and like you just picked up what wasn't already in the dirty laundry basket is the accessories. You have jewelry--wear all of it, not just the same stuff you always put on. Get a few large/unusual pieces, too. Get a few scarves.

Start reading street fashion blogs.

I recommend The Sartorialist, Garance Doré, and Style Bubble. They're mostly pictures, so they're not all that time consuming. Street fashion is better than looking at magazines, because there's authenticity. Magazines are looking for a good image; real people are looking for a good 3-D presentation, and they tend to be much more creative. Learn to be creative, too.

Make-up-y things:
Get smooth.

Being feminine means, among other things, being soft. Find a lotion that works for you (it doesn't have to be expensive, just effective. Lubriderm or Curel for sensitive skin work well for me). As soon as you get out of the shower, and after only the barest amount of drying off, use lotion on everything. If you dry off completely, or wait until your skin is totally parched, the lotion won't be as effective and you'll have to use a lot more of it.

Sugar or salt scrubs every so often while in the shower--and a pumice stone for your feet--are good means to this end, too.

Additionally, you should be washing your face, and you need to moisturize immediately after every time you wash. It'll keep you from breaking out.

Invest in a good haircut.

You wear your hair every day. If you get a good, flattering cut, you won't have to spend as much time on it, and you'll automatically look better. This is worth paying for (I spend $60 per cut on mine, but then I only have to do it every 6 months or so). Straight, mostly blunt cuts from CostCutters just don't do much for anyone.


They matter. If your eyebrows are done, even a totally bare face seems put together. If you can't figure out how to do them well yourself, or can't be bothered to maintain them reliably, find a salon you like and get them waxed. Ten bucks a month is not a huge investment for such a good payoff.


The cosmetic, not the verb. For some reason, it's one of the most over-looked cosmetics, and it does such good things. If you're having trouble finding a flattering shade, I'd recommend L'Oreal's Super Blendable blush. Use the foundation sheet to figure out your skin shade, and then get the blush that matches. It's hard to overdo it on the pigment, since it's not as saturated as other formulas.

Buy yourself some flowers.

Boys are dumb. They rarely think of things like flowers, and if they do, it's only because it's some sort of occasion (Valentine's day, making up after a fight). Fresh flowers are too awesome to doom to such miserable connotations; buy them for yourself instead. Trader Joe's usually has a huge selection, and they're often quite cheap. Put them wherever you're going to see them often.


If you do everything I listed above, your life will be better, men and women will fall over themselves to get you, you will be happy and fulfilled and supremely feminine at all times, and nothing will ever go wrong ever again and you'll live happily ever after.*

*That's how the magazines always end these sorts of articles, right?


things I like this week, vol. 10

Fur. Yes, I know it's summer, but that coat is sooo pretty . . .

China Glaze's Naughty and Nice. Figured it was a good color for a merry murderess.
Lipstain in Blood Orange. Bought it awhile ago, hardly wore it, and discovered that it's that perfect shade of coral I've been wanting for summer this year.

Trompe-l'oeil seating. Just awesome.

A to-do list for the summer.



I'm a fan of supporting local shops--not just because it seems to be the trendy economically-friendly thing to do, but because I like finding places that are unique.

Gwenneth's Shoe Repair is one of these places. I've taken several items to them over the years--boots to get stretched, a leather bag to be cleaned, several pairs of shoes to be repaired--and I've always been very pleased with their work.

It's a fun store to go into--they have all sorts of leather goods that they've either made or refurbished--and the staff is always personable, knowledgeable, and friendly. They'll punch holes in shoe straps for free. They found the perfect shade of polish for Colin's vintage cowboy boots. The people in front know their stuff, and if they don't, they'll pull the repair guys up front to talk to you. When I brought my $650 Rebecca Minkoff bag in (that was a contest win, by the way, not something I could ever afford), covered in grime because I'd carried everywhere for months, the guy who cleaned it cleaned it three times because he wasn't satisfied with how it came out at first. They truly love and take pride in their work, and I like supporting people with that sort of integrity.

I don't like walking into repair shops cold--I'm always afraid I'll get ripped off--but I trust these guys. They do make you pay up front, but the prices seem quite sane, and I like that better than handing it over and finding out later it's going to be more than you bargained for (a la the car mechanic). I hope that my recommendation is enough that you're willing to try them out, too, even if it's a bit of a drive for you. It's worth going to someone as good as they are.

They're at Rudasill and Oracle, on the Northeast corner, behind Putney's.


things I like this week, vol. 9

Two friends tangoing in an art-deco theatre; fashion by INDI apparel; make-up by me; absolutely gorgeous photo by Neil Peters.

A leaf-shaped house.

Tango dancing in the rain . . . in galoshes, no less.



Perhaps I'm a little behind the times and everyone already knows, but Ulta beauty is a god among men . . . in the way of cosmetic retailers, at least. (Pretend that metaphor worked.)

When I first went in to an Ulta, I didn't really see the point. The prices are higher for the drugstore-brand stuff I normally use, and I don't generally bother with the higher-end make-up.

Then, once I started getting into nailpolish to keep myself from gnawing my nails (a necessity when you have a document camera that projects your ragged nails 100x their normal size onto the wall behind your head on a daily basis), I often went in to get shades of nailpolish that were difficult to find other places--and ended up getting hooked.

They're successful, I think, because they bridge the gap between luxury and conventional. They carry all of the drugstore brands, and similar to Walgreen's (and unlike Walmart or Target), carry the entire line and keep it stocked. They have wider selections of facial, nail and hair products than anyone else I've found (they're the only ones I've seen who carry the Biore Skin Preservation line, for example). They also have the higher price point stuff, overlapping quite a bit with Sephora (smashbox, Urban Decay, dermalogica).

The slightly higher priced drugstore brands are made up for by the massive coupons they are always sending me--either $3.50 off a purchase of $10 or more, or 20% off a single item, which makes up the difference and then some. The club card means that I get a coupon for a free item every few months, and get double coupons via email. The staff is always friendly and not at all pretentious, going out of their way on a couple occasions to help me find something that was not out on the floor.

The reason I'm currently in love with them, however, is that they have ridiculous promotions, like the free blowout and style with Fekkai products that I have an appointment for this Wednesday.

If you want one, call your local store ASAP to reserve an appointment. The original times were Wednesday the 8th, 3-8pm, and Thursday the 9th, 1-4pm.

Good luck. =)


impluse buying: a confession

So . . . I'm pretty bad about impulse buying.

Some things I wait and think about. The last tango shoes I bought I contemplated for weeks before buying. (Wore them for the first time last weekend, and they were perfect. So happy.)

Others, especially if I know there's a limited time frame for them, and even more especially if the price is a really good deal, I will buy at the drop of the hat. And I've learned, after a few times where I resisted temptation, that I regret when I don't buy something I know I'll love.

Loyal readers might remember this print I posted ages back.

It's gone up on 20x200, a website devoted to cheap art. The 20$ 8x10 was already sold out, but there're still some of the 14x11 . . . and I got one.

Colin thinks I'm crazy. $50 plus $12.50 shipping is absurd . . . but then, I love that image. Love it. And the chances it'll ever go up for sale again, at that price . . . who knows.

I feel like art is a justifiable splurge. Even when I've already been splurging. >_>


ghosts of a tired universe

I read a lot of books. Really--a lot of books. And even though there are many I enjoy (I'm pretty good at choosing ones I know I'll like), it's rare that you come across a book that challenges your perspective on existence.

Cover Art by Vasily Kafanov - worth enlarging to see the gorgeous detail in the painting

The plot of Ghosts of a Tired Universe revolves, for the most part, around Charles Du Pont, a sculptor of nearly unimaginable skill and passion. However, the story plays with time and separate third-person perspectives, jumping from a frame-story involving a journalist trying to piece together the narrative, to Charles and his journey across and between worlds, to the alternate reality of two men who seem to control it all.

The threads of the story are all introduced in the first few chapters, so if you're not accustomed to dealing with parallel narratives, it might take some getting used to; however, as the story continues, the threads begin to weave and merge together, leading to an end that is as unexpected as it is completely satisfying.

Jonas Samuelle's writing style is unique, both whimsical and philosophically heavy, often throwing multiple concepts together in a single sentence and eschewing the "less is more" approach of writers such as Hemingway. The technique suits his subject matter--everything from mock duels with chisels and cello bows to rape and arson to mimes with their mouths sewn shut and statues that appear to move--and only enhances the intense symbolism underpinning the novel.

If you insist on nothing but bare, strict realism, Ghosts of a Tired Universe is not it--although I'd still recommend trying it to see if your palate has the potential to expand. If, however, your soul yearns for something fantastic and significant, for a book that not only entertains but drags your mind through the depths and heights of the human experience, this book is one you'll come back to time and time again.

It is currently available for download at all the major ebook retailers--Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble--and can be downloaded in pdf or html for those of us without ereaders at Smashwords. A print copy will be available for order through Amazon within the next couple weeks.
Update: it's now available in print on Createspace--will be on Amazon as soon as they update themselves.