Sunday, July 07, 2013

Modcloth Madness

I adore vintage style clothing, and Modcloth is pretty much just that. I have been snatching and grabbing up as much as I can from this site for years. My favorite thing about the site is that buyers can leave detailed reviews, including pictures, of the clothes they buy. So if you are nervous about buying something because you have a wonky high waist, like me, you can see how it looks on someone with a similar build. You also get a good idea of how well the material will hold up with repeated wearing and washing. It’s the bee’s knees. It is, hands down, my favorite online shop, so I wanted to show off a few of my favorite purchases. http://www.modcloth.com/shop/dresses/pull-up-a-cherry-dress
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This dress is so amazingly awesome. It is a sturdy cotton with pleats all around and a bow in the back. I wore this to Cigars and Stripes with my girl, Kate, to see a kickass rockabilly band called The Butterfields. She and I were dressed so adorably rockabilly that the band hung out with us for awhile after their set and actually told us they were afraid they wouldn’t be rockabilly enough for us. It was hilarious. Those guys were so fun, and it was nice to chat up some other rockabilly fans about music.
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It’s hard to tell from the picture, but Kate is also rocking a Modcloth dress. It’s a dark purple cotton dress that is supremely adorable on her.
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http://www.modcloth.com/shop/dresses/detail-ornamented-dressThis lovely little number I have worn twice this week. I wore it early in the week to the Museum of Science and Industry with the boy, and the dude who worked the Tesla Coil told me that he had an overwhelming urge to ask me to dance. Then he did a little jig for me.  I giggled. Yes, giggled. What else is a girl supposed to do with such a comment? This dress is a satiny polyester, which makes it a tad on the warmer side, so wearing it to the Hot Air Balloon Festival yesterday when it was about 85 degrees and swampy humid was not the most practical move, but I felt fabulous.  Seriously, what else do you wear to a hot air balloon festival but a vintage style dress and a flower in your hair?
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The latest outfit I acquired from Modcloth is a hunter green romper that I haven’t actually worn for a full day yet. I intended to wear it yesterday to the festival, but I had a last minute change of heart and wore the dress. http://www.modcloth.com/shop/shorts-rompers/rise-and-pine-romper
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It’s honestly a tad bit big, and the elastic waistband sags a little bit in the back, but it is very comfortable, and I think I’ll actually wear this more in the fall with tights and a cardigan.
Modcloth also has a free return policy where, if you don’t dig what you bought, you stick it back in the box, slap the return label on it, and pop it in the mail. Easy peasy. I have actually returned a few things simply because they didn’t look quite right on my disproportioned body. 
So that’s my favorite place to shop. They should give me free clothes from this little endorsement, don’ t you think?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why I’m a Humanist

 

I truly believe that we live in a beautiful, magical world where there are far more good people than bad.

Because more people have held the door open for me than have shut it in my face.

Because my mother taught me that if I treat people with kindness and compassion, they will return it. And this is absolutely true.

Because when I had a screaming toddler in the throes of a massive meltdown, a seasoned mom took the time to share a moment of solidarity and prevented me from bursting into tears.

Because there have been countless therapists, teachers, and doctors who worked tirelessly to help my child function better in this world that doesn’t always know where to fit him in.

Because there’s a guy who makes youtube videos of himself dancing with large groups of people in every country he goes to, and it proves that there is a universal bond that we share. And that is joy.

 

Because when two people bombed the Boston marathon, total strangers put themselves in harm’s way to save people’s lives.

Because every time there is a natural disaster, thousands of people will donate money, blood, and time to make it better for those who suffered through it.

Because every time I hear about a person who has done something terrible, my first thought is not that this is another symbol of the degradation of society. I see it as one person who has done something terrible and wonder what must have gone wrong in this person’s life that led them to the choice to harm.

Because amazing people created the Special Olympics, Operation Smile, the Make A Wish Foundation, St. Jude’s, and hundreds of other organizations where the primary purpose is to bring joy to others.

Because of everyday heroes like firefighters, nurses, doctors, teachers – people who sacrifice little pieces of themselves simply to help and make a difference.

Because we are not broken, and we do not live in a sinful world. We are incredible, fragile beings who sometimes struggle but inevitably do more harm than good in our short lives. 

Because those who oppose equality are now on the fringes of society, and their voices are being silenced by a new generation of people who recognize that everyone deserves to be with the person they love.

Because for every Westboro Baptist protest, there are dozens of volunteers to block out their hate.

Because when I am at my darkest, it is the love of my friends and family that lift me up and save me again and again.

Because of them.

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Because I am of this world. Beautiful and terrible. Ethereal and visceral.  And every moment matters, even if it isn’t perfect, because I know that I only have so many moments to cherish and then it’s over. And that makes it precious. That makes us precious.

Friday, May 24, 2013

This Be a Fashiony Post

I realize that I have been feverishly buying new adorable clothes that I sort of squeal over when I put them on, but I haven’t actually posted many pictures.  I have been experimenting with hairstyles and makeup as well, so I’ll throw them out there too.

So if you don’t dig my weird poses, avert your eyes. I have never been comfortable in front of a camera, but I am feeling more confident with my smile and my body than I ever have, so I am working on this.

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I am ridiculously in love with this cardigan I got from SourpussClothing, and I wore the absolute hell out of this winter. I still relish a crisp spring day where I can throw this bad boy on. It’s soft and warm, and I wear it with everything.

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This was my first slightly successful victory roll. Still had red hair, and I had just gotten my vintage glasses, which I love more than anything I have ever owned. Notice the sweater Winking smile

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All mustard yellowed up for my son’s 9th birthday party. Got this baby from Plasticland on mega sale. My sister, Jen, hates this cardigan with a fiery passion, but I adore it. It’s lightweight, so I still wear it (I’m wearing the damn thing right now).

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Skinny jeans from Delias. The sweater is one I knitted with my own two hands a few years ago. I wore this to a ladies dinner with my friend, Jane and felt pretty goddamn fabulous.

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Wearing my heart on my chest. Got my victory rolls, my favorite red cardigan purchased from Goodwill. Got this super cute, custom-ordered necklace with my darling hubsters’ name on it from DollyCool’s awesome etsy shop. https://www.etsy.com/shop/DollyCool

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Gingham adorableness! Got this twee button-up at Target on the cheaps.

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This is not a great picture, but my shirt has little blue anchors on it (Delia’s) and this is the softest, most amazing cardigan ever. Got it at Target, and it’s like being wrapped in baby flesh.

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This is one of my favorite outfits. Tank I got at Target, that’s my Goodwill cardi with some cute sparrow iron-ons I got on amazon, and my Delia skinny jeans. I wear it with these sweet Chucks that my girl, Jane, gave me.  This is what I wore to the IAMX concert, and the hilarious thing was there was a girl around my age wearing almost the exact same outfit. I wanted so desperately to point at her and shout “Twinsies!” but just gave her that “You’re rad” smile instead.

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I also learned how to curl my hair with a flat iron, so I curl it up quite a bit now. It’s quick and easy peasy lemon squeezy. Especially now that my pixie cut has grown out to sort of a weirdly layered shag of a do.

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Springtime curls and flowers!

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Me and my best little man.

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Just me and The King.

That’s a whole lotta my face acting like it owns the place. Let me tell you, 35 is proving to be the bee’s knees.  I have never felt more in control of my life or more confident with who I am. If I had known that being in my 30s was going to rock so much harder than my 20s, I probably would have taken much better care of myself and not had that “who cares what I look like when I’m old” mentality.

Stay tuned for cherry dress eleganza and true rockabilly shenanigans.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tattoos Part 4

I decided to add a little something to the dharma wheel on my arm a few months ago, and after A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF RESEARCH – chose the most amazing artist at The Constable Tattoo in Plainfield, Eris Qesari, to do the deed.

First off, a little good PR for the shop. This place gave me the best first impression of any tattoo shop I’ve ever set foot in simply because Eris responded to my email inquiry within hours of me sending it. Then when I walked in the next day to speak with him, I immediately noticed how clean it looked and smelled. I was given attention right away and offered a drink. That has never happened before. I waited around 15 minutes while Eris finished up a piece he was working on, and then we talked about my idea. He took my picture, and we booked the appointment. I was well impressed.

The whole experience was intense and exciting. The first session was around 4 hours and didn’t hurt a lick, probably because my homegirl, Kate, rode along for the journey and talking always distracts me from the fact that I’m being needled for hours on end. Eris  is the coolest cat to spend time with, and I enjoyed hearing his stories about living in Greece.

First Session

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Then I had to wait a grueling 3 weeks to complete the sleeve. I was dying of anticipation the entire time.

Second Session

After almost 5 more hours of work, and if I’m being honest, it started to hurt like a sumbitch that last hour around the armpit region – to the point where I was getting a little teary and squirmy, I left with this beauty.

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Eris and I discussed what type of background to go with, and after debating a blue, cloudlike idea, he suggested a warm, watercolor effect to compliment the cool blues and purples. And since I trusted him completely to create an artistic piece that I would love, I just told him to do what he wanted. He was spot on!

It’s bright and cheerful and exactly what I was looking for. I’ve had so many people approach me in public and tell me how much they love it. It’s actually helping me be a little bit more outgoing because people want to talk about it, and they ask tons of questions.  For a social weirdo like me, it’s been good practice at coming out of my shell a bit.

I cannot recommend Eris enough, and I highly recommend just letting go and handing yourself completely over to the artist. If you’ve done your research and develop a good working relationship with him/her, you will be very pleased with the outcome. I came in with an idea and a picture, and he turned it into something uniquely me.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

IAMX!!!!!

 

On May 2, 2013, I may  have had an out of body experience resulting from my participation in what can only be described as a musical orgy.  I was quite honestly sort of worried I might weep when the enchanting, otherworldly Chris Corner stepped onstage, but I actually surprised myself by not embarrassing my husband with my overemotional shenanigans.

Lincoln Hall is a very small, intimate venue, and we arrived early enough to be ridiculously close to the stage, and if we pretend that a group of shrilly, drunken idiot girls didn’t shriek  like crazy ebola monkeys in my ear for the first three songs, the entire experience was mind blowingly, soul shatteringly amazing.

I had never seen the band perform live before, so I wasn’t very familiar with anyone else in the band other than my man, Chris.  By the second song, I had become completely entranced by the wickedly badass Janine Gezang and couldn’t take my eyes off of her for the rest of the show.

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Chris, of course, was devastating as always. When I hear his voice, there are hidden places inside my very being that catch fire, and I can hardly breathe. He writes lyrics that have the power to just completely dismantle me in just a few words.  I could write a thesis on the toe-tingling words of “Mercy” alone. 

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Here is the complete set list  with a few videos I found on the tube of you.

Animal Impulses

Sorrow

Kiss and Swallow

http://youtu.be/TWleevEiz9s

Kingdom of Welcome Addiction

Spit It Out

Tear Garden (Video below is not from our show, but they did this kickass drum  duet at our show as well, and it was incredible)

http://youtu.be/-wm7jaS8_PY

My Secret Friend

The Unified Field (This is a snippet of the song)

http://youtu.be/rroUue8v-Wo

Cold Red Light (If you watch nothing else, listen to this fiercely rad orgasm inducing song)

http://youtu.be/7yvorfshHWo

Walk with the Noise

Music People

The Alternative

I Come With Knives

President

Nightlife

ORRRR you can watch pretty much the whole damn show here. http://youtu.be/A-PWLFicERE

 

The beginning is wonky, and it skips the beginning of “My Secret Friend.” It also cuts off at “President,” but basically this is the whole shebang.

I left the show feeling giddy, wrapped in the warm afterglow of watching one’s favorite artist perform. I wish I could bottle the delirium-induced joy and let it slush around in my belly.

IAMX3

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

As You Were

As some of my peeps know, I’m writing a book about my Army days. I started writing this 15 years ago, just a year after my discharge, but so many different circumstances prevented me from finishing it. This year I decided to pick it back up and finish the damn thing. I’m very close to a very rough first draft, and I’m confident I’ll actually have a completed manuscript by the end of this year. What happens to it after that matters to me far less than the knowledge that such a huge part of my life will have been documented all in one place.

I kept a diary for that year, and I have letters that I had written home throughout my enlistment. This initial process has been just typing it all out chronologically and outlining specific things that were important to me at the time.

When I began this story, I was 20 years old and had been discharged less than a year prior to sitting down to write it all down. The tone back then was very much one of disgust and bitterness towards an institution that I felt had ruined my life. Back then, I was still raging against a machine that I held responsible for what I thought would be a lifetime of unending physical and emotional pain. I spent a great deal of time writing about boyfriend drama and the inconveniences of being forced to salute officers I didn’t like. I thought this story was to be an expose of what really goes on behind the scenes of the military and to discourage young women from joining.

Only now, at 35, am I able to look through the eyes of my 18 year old self and truly see that that wasn’t the real story. As maturity and life circumstances have changed my perception of the world, I’ve come to realize that I was an entitled, self-obsessed child playing at being a soldier. I’ve joked to other former soldiers that they were in the “real Army,” and I was in the “pretend Army,” and that is absolutely true. I fashioned a reality for myself then that didn’t fit with what the Army line was. I shined my boots and ironed my uniform, but the whole time I thought all of it was beneath me. I used to brag that I had never saluted an officer and gladly took the pushups thinking that I was rebelling against conformity. Which would have been a radical statement had I not volunteered for the whole damn thing.

I put myself in unsafe situations, treated those I loved quite brutally, and spent a great deal of time feeling sorry for myself because of things that had happened to me. Things that I took zero responsibility for, placing all blame on others so that I could continue to wallow in the precious self-loathing that made me feel special. It’s only now that I can see just how truly emotionally explosive and damaged I was at that time.

In Basic Training, I was assigned to watch over a girl who had tried to kill herself in front of us, and I wrote in my diary about how pathetic she was and how nervous she made me. Months later, when I was so overwhelmed and depressed that I tried to do the same thing,  it was too late to be the compassionate person she had needed in those moments.  There is an actual moment, while watching some of the hospital patients in the psych ward on base playing basketball, that I realized they were no different than I was, and that moment paralyzed me with fear that I would be found out. I learned to contain my crazy and step outside of myself long enough to survive.

And that ended up being the real story. Not a story about how horrible the military is for women. Not a story about all the injustices that were done to me by the powers that be who wanted to destroy all of my individuality.  Through time and distance, I have discovered that the true story behind all of this is in what happens when an immature, depressed, and fragile child is given a rifle and taught how to kill another human being. Who is told it is her responsibility to keep her country safe from “the enemy” but has such little knowledge of the world outside her small town that being dropped in a foreign country to carry out that action would have been laughable.

Finally being honest about the person that I was and how that shaped my perception of the experiences I went through has really helped me reconcile many of the traumas that I associated with that time. This story may end up being one of healing and growth.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Living the hell out of this life

This year has been all about changes for me. Changing not only my look but my universal outlook as well. The last few years have been stressful and sometimes overwhelming, and I am aware that I tend to let that stress fester inside of me until I look on the outside how I feel on the inside. A mess. That first year of homeschooling was a buffet for the inner critic, and she often feasted on my insecurities and fear. And then I decided to quit feeding her. It really was that simple. I may inadvertently throw her a crumb here and there, but that bitch is starving.

So, while I am starving the hell out of the voice that spent a lifetime trying to convince me I was ugly, stupid, awkward, chubby, I have begun feeding the voice that tells her to shut the hell up. And what I’ve noticed is that the quieter the inner bitch gets, the more confident I feel. I am probably too damn old to wear some of the clothes that I wear now. I know that people stare at me when I go out in my old lady glasses and victory rolls, but I feel fucking fabulous, so I don’t care. I’m having the time of my life, and my friends don’t seem too embarrassed to be seen in public with me, so I’m going to continue to devour as much fun and freedom as I can until I decide to stop.

I used to sit at home on the couch every night watching TV until I was too tired to move, and then I would drag my frumpy ass to bed wishing I had enough energy to go out. Now, even if I’m exhausted from teaching my kiddo, doing the housework, shopping, blah, blah, I will force my old, tired ass into a cute outfit and paint the town with a friend. And I have never once regretted that choice. Because I have the best friends around, who not only support and encourage me, but are always down for a good time. Last month, my buddy Kate and I went to see a very cool band in Chicago called Honeyhoney. Kate is my go-to gal for concert shenanigans. She loves music as much as I do, and she never gets embarrassed if I dance like a jackass. She is the cat’s pajamas.

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We were crazy close to the stage – it’s a very small venue – and the band is still so unknown that they genuinely seemed surprised every time we applauded. In a later post, I will discuss how the banjo is the perfect instrument, so you can understand how much I geeked out watching this band.

A few weeks later, I invited my good friend Jane out to dinner, and we hit up a Cajun joint in Plainfield called MoeJoe’s. Lucky for us, we got what the hostess referred to as “THE booth.” We sipped on hurricanes, and I binged a bit on sweet potato fries. They play excellent music before 10 pm – a little bit of Stevie Ray, Johnny Cash, and even some Pink Floyd. Then, they cleared out the front part of the restaurant, a DJ came in, and the place became Douchebro Central. We quickly got the hell out of there. Once Ke$ha remixes come out, I gotta bail or I get stabby.

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Now, I am certainly not a believer in “things happen for a reason,” but if I did, Jane would be one of those people that I was meant to be friends with. She was my son’s special ed teacher at a school he never should have gone to. I immediately connected with her, and while Perrin was attending that school, I would often tell John that it was a shame Jane was his teacher, because I would totally want to hang out with her. So, after I pulled Perrin out of school to homeschool him, I emailed her and asked her on a date. From that point on, she’s been a pea in my pod.

One day soon, I hope to get my homegirl, Debbie, to come out with us. And then I will force her into a picture.  Ren Faire is right around the corner, Debbie. You shan’t avoid my camera forever.

I spent way too long in a cage that I built, truly believing that there was no longer a point to trying to be pretty or expressing myself because I stopped mattering. I allowed my life to revolve around parenting or housekeeping or any number of obligations that gave me an excuse to stop living.

I am not dead yet. I choose to live.