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The List: Volume, Oh, Who the Hell Knows?

By |January 28th, 2017|The List|

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When I was little, there was no limit to the amount of time I could spend in a bookstore.  I think I’ve always had more books than I’ve had friends.  A shy girl with a freckled round face and long golden hair, hardly recognizable today.  Tucking myself behind my mother when met with a stranger, I felt even safer hidden behind the cover of a book.

My face has since slimmed, my hair grown darker, freckles only evident in the summer sun.  Though it’s not likely one could pin me from a baby photo alone, there is one thing that never changed even after decades; the safety and solace of losing myself in a story.

Much like my intuition with people, I can tell quite quickly whether a book and I will bond or if I’ll merely grow bored.  And just like their human counterparts, I’ve never given up on a book– even when it’s been utterly rotten.  All chapters read, all pages turned in hopes of being pleasantly proven wrong.

And then there are those books that touch you almost immediately upon opening.  You feel as if the words could have even been your own.  The books that move you, change you, leave you wanting more.  There have been times when I’ve grown more attached to characters in a book than I have a lover.  Those are the books you never want to end.  So you read slowly, deliberately savoring each detail as if you will never be able to go back and open it again.

The End is such a bittersweet way to say, “goodbye.”

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 (Note: this isn’t a list of my favorite books- though some of them are- this is a list of books I read in the past year that impacted me and came to me like pieces of a puzzle)

  1. The Road Less Traveled, Timeless Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth, M. Scott Peck
  2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel, Milan Kundera
  3. The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, Aldous Huxley
  4. How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life, Sheila Heti
  5. Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  6. He’s Scared, She’s Scared: Understanding the Hidden Fears That Sabotage Your Relationships, Steven Carter and Julia Sokol
  7. Just Kids, Patti Smith
  8. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  9. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Jeremy P. Tarcher
  10. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories, Raymond Carver

Why Did You Wear That: Patent Pending

By |October 24th, 2016|Personal Style, Why Did You Wear That?|

gempicket-patent-leather-pantsNever did I ever think I’d see the day I’d be sliding myself into a pair of patent leather pants, let alone the matching patent leather bralette.  But the moment I did, I felt like a whole new woman.  Gone was the mild mannered, happy little wallflower, and here emerged someone looking to stir up a little controversy.

Gempicket‘s Audrey Sleepless Bra and Pants somehow make wearing manmade material seem elegant and even sophisticated.  Sure, these pieces have the potential to take a totally wrong turn and should be handled with caution– much like a semi automatic weapon.  The contrast of delicate lace against patent leather and the high neckline countering the near nudity create a perfect paradox.

On my way to the shoot location, I wore a pair of Adidas Stan Smith sneakers to avoid injury and eliminate extra time spent teetering along the cobblestones of the far West Village and realized how cool these pants would also look in a very laid back setting- dare I say Saturday brunch with a vintage t-shirt and denim jacket?  Upside?  Spilled mimosas wipe right off.

Patent leather is having a moment this season, which is ironic as my first tantrum was thrown over the very same material and the only shoes Smitty ever chewed were also patent leather.  Fits of rage and oral fixations aside, find a way to incorporate it into your closet whether full pants, mini skirt, or even a Julia Roberts boot.

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Photos by Michael Stiegler

WhyDid Wisdom: Overshare and Tell

By |October 15th, 2016|WhyDid Wisdom|

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“Ugh, Kirsten, shut the f*ck up!” I mutter to myself for the four hundred billionth time in my life.  Yet again, I have surprised myself with something that has passed between my lips- an internal musing that was never meant for public consumption has now taken its place right at center stage of conversation.   There are times I wish I could capture my own surprise, which no doubt, mirrors that of my listeners.  It’s really a wonder I didn’t go into PR as I have spent countless hours cleaning up my own messes.  Even BP would be impressed with my ability to casually diffuse an incredibly awkward situation.  Extra details from bad dates, physical ailments none would ever admit to, feelings most prefer to keep at bay.  When it comes to personal plight, my ability to keep quiet is reminiscent of the beating heart in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.   If backpedaling was a sport, I’d qualify for the Olympics.  But alas, I live by the mantra, “Mean what you say.  Say what you mean,” and for better or worse, one must own his words.

Like most people’s best qualities, my openness, and frankness, is also one of my worst.  I have no problem putting it out there– from my outfits to my emotions– and while some find that refreshing, others find it revolting.  To know me well is to know that nothing I say (for the most part) is out of malice.  I love hard and feel deeply.   Unfortunately, I keep a fairly close circle, so my average audience is likely to be experiencing this word vomit for the first time.  Hi, it’s nice to meet you, I snore when I sleep.

In many cultures, people share meals in order to relate to one another.  Other cultures wash and braid each other’s hair.  For me, telling stories, and sharing my own woes is the way in which I bond with others.  I see it as a way to say, “See, I have those scars too.” “I’m afraid of the same things.”  “Look how bad I messed up.”  “We’re all human, welcome to the sh*t show that we call life.”  And indirectly, it is probably a way for me to look to others and ask if what I’ve been through is “okay” too.

Throughout history from the Bible to Greek mythology all the way back to ancient hieroglyphics (the original emojis), storytelling has been an important way for history to be remembered, lessons to be taught, and used as a portal for people to connect to their roots.  And while it is a truly beautiful thing to be able to share pieces of yourself with others when they may need it, Hemingway said it best, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” there is such a thing as oversharing.  You can also be too rich and too thin.

In school, we are taught from an early age that sharing is the right thing to do.  Tommy can have all of our blocks if he’d like them.  Don’t be so selfish.  But when does sharing your stories out of genuine generosity and encouragement of enlightenment become uncomfortable oversharing and an introduction to indecision?

The problem with oversharing is two fold- beyond the obvious potential of offending the general population.  First, people begin to feel comfortable weighing in on your problems, solicited or not.  I’ve found myself frustrated, foiled, and sometimes even angry when I’m telling a story and others begin to pipe in with what I should do or where I made my biggest blunder.  I’m very self aware and already know the catastrophic state of my mistakes, but when you’ve made a habit of inviting everyone in to watch things unfold on the main stage, and unless your name is Kanye you can’t kick them out mid performance.  Take a bow, my, friend,  this is a little something people like to call “boundaries” and while we don’t want to build a wall in Mexico, we do need personal boundaries.

Next, you forget how to make your own decisions and/or you get lazy.  When you stop sharing out of acquired wisdom and instead share in order to gain acceptance, you begin to lose track of yourself and rely too heavily on others’ opinions.  This, again, opens you up to a public forum for your problems and while most are weighing in with hopes to help, more likely than not, despite the best of intentions, they’re bringing their own experiences into the mix and this can be a catalyst for confusion.  I’ve said it before, no one knows what the f*ck he is doing and one would hope we’re all doing the best we can.  No one is an actual expert on anything– except math.  You might be an expert in arithmetic. Much like a muscle can atrophy, when your intuition isn’t used, it becomes weak and all of a sudden you can’t distinguish your gut feelings from your inclination to react from past experiences, yours or otherwise.  It’s like a ship lost at sea with no land in sight.  You can no longer make your own judgement calls without weighing in first.

But stories are important and they will always be a noble way for humans to relate to one another.  There are times when I’ve been caught by a passage in a book I’m reading and finally feel understood.  Articles written by people who have conquered some of my same quandries have given me hope.  And let’s not forget that music is one of the greatest ways to tell a story.  There’s a reason there are so many songs about heartbreak and we all know I love a good cry in the shower (or at least now you do).  It is important to be open to others and to find ways wherein we can relate to everyone from the Queen of England to the man who hosed down the sidewalk this morning.  The key comes in finding the balance and distinguishing what you are sharing and your reasons for sharing it.  It is a matter of telling your story without asking for approval.  Jesus certainly wasn’t asking his disciples whether or not he should confront the Pharisees.  Sure, every day is a new chapter and you have the option to rewrite your ending in any way you choose, but masterpieces are printed in ink, not etched in pencil.  Your story is your own and you can share it whenever and with whomever you choose. Just remember, there will always be critics, ask the New York Times, and know that not everything is always a best seller.

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something– a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things– which you had thought special and particular to you.  Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead.  And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”

Alan Bennett

 

 

Why Did You Wear That: Under the Boardwalk

By |September 3rd, 2016|Personal Style, Why Did You Wear That?|

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Ah, where were we?  Oh, that’s right.  Dissecting summer’s sweat stains and cynicism,  When I realized that I might be a little overdressed for housing hot dogs and giving the Tilt O Whirl a spin, I swapped my bodycon two piece for something a lot softer and a bit breezier: TOBI’s Desert Dreaming Dress Set.  There are days when it’s so steamy you can’t stand the thought of anything touching you, not even Ryan Gosling with a puppy and plate of freshly baked gluten free chocolate chip cookies.  Rather than give up on life by throwing on an oversized dashiki, find something in a natural (aka not synthetic) fabric that’s got some room to breathe and bonus points for clever ventilation design details.

Now, I realize the title of this entry may be a bit misleading.  I did do a serious stroll down the boardwalk by the sea taking in all the scents and the scenery, but I did not find myself at any point in a place where I might be able to sneak off with some handsome surfer for canoodling beneath the pier (and not just because there were no handsome surfers anywhere to be found).  Turns out, this boardwalk is exactly that– a walkway made from, you guessed it, boards.  On one side, you’ve got candy apple carts, frozen beverages and burgers, and every carnival ride your mother wouldn’t allow you to embark upon for fear of a fate worse than Fabio’s.  On the other side, there is a very impressive stretch of sand, way wider than many of the shorelines that have slowly eroded over the years.

 

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Desert Dreaming Dress Set, c/o TOBI

 

Photography by Michael Stiegler

Setting the Mood: Labor Pains

By |September 1st, 2016|Beauty & Trends, Setting the Mood|

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While Labor Day is not actually the official end of summer (I repeat, LABOR DAY IS NOT THE OFFICIAL END OF SUMMER), it sure can feel like it.  I prefer a glass half full approach to this holiday weekend- meaning, buck up, we’ve still got another three weeks of summer (fall begins on September 22nd- also known as Smitty and my father’s birthday).  However, if you are a bit more pessimistic and it’s about to be check out time at your summer share house, I understand your desire to go out with a bang.

It was a weird summer, let’s be serious.  The weather was the equivalent of most of my decision making- it didn’t know what it wanted to do.  Fortunately, we only got blasted with one intolerable heatwave and for the most part there was plenty of sun.  While the majority of my friends posted pictures from Ibiza to Istanbul, I sat on the sidelines watching enviously as I scoured the internet looking for a new home in the borough of Brooklyn.  That endeavor turned out to be about as successful as transporting a snow cone through the Sahara.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the half full or half empty camp, Labor Day is now upon us and we must prepare.  Sunglasses, swimsuits, and sunscreen, ahoy.