Sopranos, Symbolism and Sianara..

Ok, the Mafia hit Pompano Beach this week and I am SO grateful that in a couple fits of boredom I had watched “Growing up Gotti”. On Tuesday, I had Salvatore Melandrinooooo (again I may have that spelling wrong- [wink]) in my office and he had a dispute with his rental car company. The entire time Sal was in my office he kept an unlit cigarette in his mouth held by a filter….I swear to you he must be a stand in for Tony Soprano b/c he was Goom-ba all the way…he started telling the guy at Enterprise, “You got some kind of nerve, you better be glad I’m not there in person and suddenly visions of him pulling out a gun and shooting his cell phone flashed into my head. I had to close my door, but since my fish bowl office has no ceiling it really didn’t help much, I am sure everyone in the lobby was thinking he was about to do a contract hit on me. Finally, we figured out how to get Enterprise to make the corrections on his account and Sal and I discussed an easier way for him to manage his accts…for whatever reason he insists on having two checking accts, two cell phones, and two debit cards, but he keeps forgetting which debit card goes to which account. I suggested he come back the next day for me to help him straighten out his accounts, heck this is ONE guy I do not want to make angry…I’m thinking of producing a pasta dish when he arrives….at any rate, Sal apologized and said, “since I got shot I don’t think too good”. See I told you. Below is    Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, who I am sure is Sal’s 4th cousin twice removed…..

I also met a man and his wife this week and Julian is German and apparently tres rich-he owns a small resort in Costa Rica and for whatever reason he thinks I am very competent and always comes to me to open accounts, close accounts, advise him on what to do with the extra 93,000 cash he had in a savings account…I said give it to me..but he just laughed in that German bourgeois way they have….then yesterday he invited me to come to his resort in Costa Rica, and I am pretty sure he doesn’t mean at a discounted rate, I think he meant for free..anyway we looked it up on the web (www.perlanegra-beachresort.com <http://www.perlanegra-beachresort.com/>; )  and while it is rustic, I’m ½ thinking of going for it…or at least “inquiring about the rates” and see where it goes…check out the site-five years ago I would have never attempted this kind of rustic adventure- hell after driving down Powerline Road at midnight, I’m about willing to try anything.

Then on Wed, Broward County’s finest showed up in my center..yes four Sheriffs deputies wanted to meet with me and this can never be a good sign..turns out they wanted to find out if I had cameras on the side of my building facing A1A b/c there had been a VIOLENT CRIME COMMITTED OVER THE WEEKEND right beside the banking center…gotta hate when those words are uttered…the amusing part was that they were all completely nonchalant and making jokes…just when I’m thinking should I put yellow tape around the building one of the
deputy chicks said oh yeah can you check on my credit card for me..you guys screwed up my payment…I kept trying to get more info about the violent crime and she kept saying yeah you took from the wrong acct, and paid too much, can you call me and let me know. They finally left and said btw, give us a call if you find anything out about the video..uh yeah sure..right after I buy a gun at the 7-11 down the street….

So, I was watching an episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter last night…(don’t judge)

and my equal fascination with his Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Look and his wife’s GINORMOUS boobs kept me glued to the tv set..I mean really how does she stand upright? But I give her points for her perm and long nails….oh and extra points for finding knit tops that fit….Back to the Dog’s look-personally I think Prada should get right on that, but at any rate..in this episode , one of the huntees was a stripper with a penchant for smoking pot in her car-she had been arrested three times, etc…well fast forward to when they catch her and her boyfriend shows up on the scene…they ask him where they were planning to go to and his answer: Florida.

You see folks right there on cable tv. I finally figured it out..Florida is a place where people go to escape, start over or try and find something they lost within themselves and perhaps in some cases forget what they lost….in my case I was in a job I hated – working for a boss I hated even more with serious fashion and jealousy issues and being miserable being away from Michael…so I bungee jumped into what I thought would be a better opportunity to start over, reassess and most importantly forego the long weeks in between trips to Fla or anticipating the planes flying in to Greensboro with my precious cargo (M) on them.

I have figured out that there is a reason for everything and there are also universe-provided signs to point you in the right direction. On Monday, I walked out to my car to find a duck (didn’t know we had any around the condo???) sitting in the middle of the parking lot. This duck had red hair on the top of his head..SYMBOLISM anyone?  I thought he would hiss or walk away as I got closer but he just sat there, a sitting duck with red hair apparently staging a sit-in protest. As I pulled my car around he STILL didn’t move…and all day I couldn’t stop thinking about that duck.he was out of place, looking unlike anything else here and just quietly making a statement. He was me, and I knew it.

And his message was quite informative….while I have gotten used to Florida and have found some enjoyable nuggets here, life has dictated that I have to leave for awhile. My father’s health continues to decline and he and my family need my assistance…I have been asked to return home and under the guise of a family medical leave of absence, I will be facing the biggest challenge of my life. So Thomas Wolfe, you can go home again, even for the most saddest of reasons.

But it would be remorse of me to send this last postcard without a few final observations about this land, this demi-eden, this place called Florida. Who would have thought an ankle sock shaped state would have proven to be such a big challenge. But with all of the freaks, geeks , sheiks and in some cases eeks, I have to say the last 21 weeks have been nothing short of enlightening. I had a thought last night, driving home that Florida works in theory but not in application…it makes sense to have a place with great weather most of the year that people can retire to and or enjoy for a few months at a time..but for the natives it all seems to be an algebra problem gone horribly wrong.

Florida is a place where 40 story condominiums are built on grains of sand within walking distance of the ocean, that will storm surge five months of the year threatening utter destruction..I guess that means that at least in the construction business there must be hope here.

It is a land where palm trees flourish and grass will not grow…water from the sky has to be supported daily by water from the ground…..

It is a terrain populated by people who are from a hundred different races and countries but who never embrace that which is different…the color of your skin must be brown and glistening, your boobs must be fake or at least appear to be and your hair must be either an unnatural color or length…if you’re over 65 you must behave 25-30 years younger than your age and complain about everything including the price of bread at Publix and the taxes of the condo you bought on the beach.

But it is also a place where you can see the most beautiful sunsets, golf in February and find out more about yourself then you ever thought you could. My relocation to Florida taught me I could be brave in life and love. I could find humor in a place so foreign to me that it sometimes felt like I should apply for a visa or passport. I could find me. The writer, the poet and the eternal optimist willing to operate as a bit of a correspondent and relay back to the universe what I have seen, heard and felt…and while it has been a plethora of imagery and a great deal of strange occurrences, I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything in the world.

Like the butterflies in Butterfly World, I was in captivity for awhile in a place that I was not used to but my winged self is now on to face new adventures. The time I will spend caring for my Dad will also be a chance to re-evaluate where I am going career-wise…and spend some time inventorying the gifts I already have. One big one is the drummer, the artist, my most favorite Italian man….a man with the most beautiful soul. M. He has made all the strife worth every second. I also realized I had a gift for survival..I used to think life was constantly throwing me punches that I didn’t handle as well as I should and now I realize hell I’m pretty damn strong and I can do it all in Gucci 4 inch heels. (one must never forget fashion in life) If the last 21 weeks have taught me anything it is that life is full of choices and sometimes we make ones that enlighten us in two ways…they prove what we already know and tell us what we didn’t.

So I have to leave for awhile, but I’ll be ok…I have two families supporting me and that’s pretty damn lucky in this universe.
And I have reruns of SATC to get me thru anything…for those of you who watched every damn episode like me , you’ll remember this…from the last one…Carrie’s final “postcard”.
“The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous”
And amongst the sequin sun visors, angry old men, crime and punishment…I found all of that and more.
Oh and by the way, the other night, Mike took me by a lake behind the condo…I had never noticed it before and one of the ducks had baby chicks…Mike had seen them on his bike ride and wanted me to see them too…they were all fuzzy and new and full of promise….ummm…and the duck with the red hair? He was there too…and I know you won’t believe me, but I’m pretty sure I saw him give me a wink.
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Butt Seriously?

“Our culture is shallow because we don’t respect the elderly,” said Maher. “We venerate the young and let them rule everything. We let them run everything. How else would you explain the cultural moment that is now being enjoyed by the human buttocks? It’s an ass. It’s been around for centuries. Half of our music and all of our dancing is just about worshiping, praising, staring at and waxing poetic about the human ass. Millennials should be called ‘Generation Ass.” B. Maher

Kim-Kardashian-Jean-Paul-Goude-1stdibs

I don’t always agree with Bill Maher but I have to say he is spot on about this phenom. As the latest pictures of a greased up, photo shopped Kim Kardashian hit my news feed Wednesday (Jean-Paul Goude known for photo shopped pics took her photos) I laid my head in my hands and thought really? Another hyper focused media frenzy over someone’s assets? Anaconda videos, twerking, belfies…singers and stars vying for attention by shoving their butts in our collective faces….I’m “exhassted”  by the constant imagery.

It’s no surprise I marvel  at our society’s fascination with Kim Kardashian, I have just never understood why someone as vacuous and wearisome as she, her sisters, her mother, etc continue to hold American’s gripped by the pop culture juggler. Now instead of seeing her shoved into some poorly fitted dress on the front row of a fashion show, my eyes are burning by her ass creating its own 4th dimension on a magazine cover and yet another hashtag #breaktheinternet..which quite frankly I wish her pics had accomplished because my head hurts. In the big scheme of things it doesn’t matter that KK has only one way to culturally define herself, and full frontal or not the point is that the constant obsession we now have with buttocks is saying something.

I get it that body parts are culturally targets of desire, adoration and speculation. We have coveted big breasts, tiny waists, small feet, big butts, small breasts, size 0’s, size “more to love”…and the list goes on but when did an entire generation decide that the ass should be honored and held up as something to covet, a sacred relic dipped in gold dust, vaseline and tanning spray? Perhaps we should blame Sir Mix A Lot..a catchy tune became an ear worm and more than two decades later a generation is putting new meaning into hump day.

Either way, it’s not like it was just invented, hell the bustle of the 1800s was not about pure fashion….so why all of the focus? Is it just titillation? Have we gotten to the point that face to face interaction is so boring that it makes more sense to just throw our ass up in the air, shake it, twirl it, spank it and glorify it?  It’s in music videos, instagrams, re-grams, twitter and whether you are a celebrity or not it seems that the measure of a woman’s sex appeal has now become unmistakably linked to the size of her ass and if you can balance a champagne glass on it it’s that just that  much more bootylicious.

Beyonce is telling us she’s going  to “sit this ass on you”, Miley is attacking groins across the nation, Shakira and Rihanna are doing butt challenges and through it all, the lesson is that ladies, you better get your squats going on because your sexual worth is about packing much back.. Maybe it’s all much ado about nothing and our civilization will survive this buttpoclypse however this onslaught is exhausting.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the female form is beautiful and I also think women have a right to celebrate whatever they feel is unique about them, men too…however when women are celebrating being known ONLY for their derrieres rather than their talent, their intelligence, or even their faces it worries me especially since icons are so on board with it. The result is a continuation of a misogynistic culture that I have fought against most of my adult life and the stars that are happily going down the yellow brick road paved with whoopie cakes are sending a strong message—get on board ladies..if you want to get noticed forget about changing the world, changing your mind or being sexy ..strap on a thong and twerk it.

It’s banal and it makes us all look like asses.

Literally.

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Belle of the Ball- Porn and the Modern Co-Ed

In my endless fascination with pop culture, I have been following the story of the college student turned porn star. You know –  THAT one that blew up the internet in the southeast a few months ago. I’ve watched the interviews, read her op-ed, and of course every time she decides to speak, show up at a strip club, or style her hair differently, the media jumps through hoops to get the scoop. I’ve tried to ignore it but after reading a piece about her buying cheap underwear that she could then sell at a convention, Belle Knox —has my head spinning.

miriam weeks

Before I trudge down the rabbit hole, let me set the record straight. If Ms. Knox wants to do porn to pay her way through school vs. the obligatory waitress or retail gig—so be it—it’s her body and she can do with it what she wants. I seriously doubt she is breaking new ground here…she’s not the first and she won’t be the last. But, let’s not dress it up to be anything more than that.

What I have a problem with are her claims that her true goal, in addition to avoiding school loans, is to further the rights of sex workers and smearing a glean of respectability on a less than reputable business. Noble cause, but I’m not slapping that particular dollar bill on her thigh. In short, I’m not buying it. She got caught, and has taken advantage of the situation. If she were pushing for rights to privacy, I could understand and support that agenda 100% but that’s not the road she is traveling.

With a reality show in the works, gigs stripping in clubs, editorials and interviews it feels just a little too close to personal agenda pushing…and dare I say it—I think she is setting back feminism, not pushing it forward. She is making the best of her situation and clouding the issue with some rather ill-informed platitudes.

In full disclosure, I am not a fan of porn. I know a lot of people are – it wouldn’t be a multibillion dollar business otherwise – and I’ve never been able to figure that equation out. It’s generally misogynistic, unrealistic both for men and women and the backlash of the industry is growing. Women are given an impractical expectation of how to look and endless fodder for body issues and men and boys are feeding off of increasingly violent images, and I see it as a perfect agenda for our society to stay firmly rooted in patriarchy.

Because, when a college student comes forth to share how glorious her experience as a sex worker is, inside my head I am screaming, no, no, no…you are dressing up a business that subjugates women and for every person like her that says this is her choice, she enjoys it, she doesn’t do anything she doesn’t want to do… there are hundreds of others with the exact opposite experience.

miriam weeks

You’ve heard this before, right? Every time a woman has to justify her complete surrender to this, or some other occupation that can only exist in a society fully accepting of a male dominated culture, she exudes the same platitudes. Maybe, just maybe, I could believe it if the voice box was older than 18, but it all sounds like I’ll make the best of this and a few extra dollars—not altruism.

The latest news is she is now PornHub’s newest intern. She claims that she is not interested in being a porn star for life…so we can assume she is cashing in now while the going is good, however, I’d like to see where she is four years from now – creating a new line of sex toys, because one is already in the works? Or not understanding why a law firm won’t hire her because of her previous work portfolio? Whether that is “right” or not, it is the reality. My hope would be that it would be different, but the track record doesn’t bode well for this to just go quietly away.

Ms. Knox seems more than a little naïve. Or maybe it’s us, the public who are obtuse? She’s selling an image and we’re buying it.

Either way she is making money, and it’s all going to her “tuition,” but as college is that time to learn about yourself and the world around you, I have to ask if Knox’s journey isn’t leading her astray?

Some may say she tried to make the best of being outed by a fellow student and she is doing exactly that, but that’s an understatement. She has turned the spotlight firmly on herself and is milking her 15 mins like a trooper, and that’s what bugs me the most.

Don’t claim your intentions are sublime and worthy, when you are brokering sexy deals left and right, and while I’m at it…let me just address the 800 lb gorilla in the room. When I was in college I had scholarships, grants, student loans and at one point I worked four jobs and this was after choosing a top public university I could afford.

The school she chose to attend is a top, elite, private university…but don’t whine that tuition is $60,000 a year and you find waitressing far more degrading than porn. It wasn’t like someone forgot to tell her the cost, and even my public school education took years to pay off, but I knew that going in. Porn pays more and it’s an easier way to make a buck…but unlike waitressing or retail, it also carries a long shadow and it will follow you forever. I wonder how long it will take before Knox starts talking about the abuses of the porn industry when the “I’m doing something naughty and taboo” phase wears off?

Her elitist attitude is being morphed into scintillation-“I’m just being me”- choices, and a trumped-up desire to be a voice for the downtrodden sex worker. Here’s an idea, let’s interview sex workers who have been in the industry for more than a year and see if they think Knox is their savior. My guess is they would tell you she is doing more harm than good and riding a wave created by publicists and companies hungry for a dollar.

belle knox

Her faux feminism is disappointing and I daresay a media ploy to make everything add up. And that’s the sad part– for some impressionable young girls it will add up, I only hope they realize that this is a lot of smoke and mirrors, there’s nothing glamorous at all about it. I also hope that she realizes that too. I am not even entirely sure if she has strung all of this together herself – while not terribly bad in interviews, she doesn’t come across as someone who has truly thought this career through. As one of my dear friends noted, she’s a poster child for YOLO, but there should be a warning label on those posters “Yeah YOLO, but that doesn’t mean without consequences.”

All the lip gloss, fake sets, implausible “plot” lines, school girl outfits and fake glasses are just window dressing for a business. A business selling a product, and that product comes at a far higher price than she knows, or cares to know, and that is sad.

So, Ms. Knox – when the house lights are dimmed, and no one is paying you—let me know if you still feel special or maybe just a little bit sullied. This kind of money comes with a cost, can you really afford it?

 

 

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Twitter is the Devil

“I work out every day — Monday to Saturday.” Jessica Biel

“Why is that people always try to understand estimate my intelligents?! They should never do that! I haven’t been on (cont.) http://tl.gd/u6vo”  – Mary J. Blige

“No, no, I didn’t go to England; I went to London.” –Paris Hilton

“Titanic 100 years wOw. Global warming couldve saved titanic. Sad to say,” Jose Canseco

“Pandora.. Whoever you are!! Thank you!! I get tweets about you playing my music all the time!!” -Tyrese

twitter

I’ve been thinking…maybe Twitter is really a stage name for Beelzebub. Seriously people. That little blue bird emoticon that looks festive and chirpy is actually one of Satan’s foot soldiers. Trust me, you think it’s all innocuous internet fun but there’s an agenda behind that beak. Twitter is either a venue for people to mouth off and be rude, share incredibly intimate and private information, highlight their ignorance or in 140 characters or less show they lack any true character.

Admittedly, I have a twitter account and I use it…mostly as a marketing tool for events and it’s tied to my Pinterest account so if you want to see 1000’s of pictures of Chanel jackets I can’t afford knock yourself out. For my daytime pay the mortgage job, I use it like a pro—it’s an important part of our whole Social Media Marketing strategy …but after this week I am ready to use that damn blue bird for target practice instead.

Let me bring you up to speed.

A dear friend of mine who is an artist, college professor, and dog lover (her dog Sterling should have his own hashtag btw) recently came by for a very short 12 hour visit on her way through town.

I met Karen years ago when I saw a pair of her hand painted shoes in a storefront window in downtown WS. They were glorious and like Sarah Jessica Parker in SATC , I uttered “hello lover”. I got her name from the owner and we met.

I thought her work was inventive and a great way to demonstrate repurposing in Fashion…As an editor of a magazine in St. Augustine I featured her designs, I hired her to paint TOMS shoes for an event at WFU and I have followed her progress as she creates size 7 Picassos for the world to walk in..I even asked her to curate my upcoming art show. In short she is someone whom I think has great taste and is a great artist.

When she was here briefly, we started chatting about some recent design projects and she mentioned that there was a designer doing ridiculously priced shoes that she could DIY for much less $$$$. My brain started ticking and I thought, wait- I know a Fashion blogger in NYC- maybe she would be interested in featuring Karen’s work.

So, I pitched the idea to my friend via email because I had lost her contact info in the whole switchover to an iPhone and that’s when I should have heard that chirping in the distance. Little did I know that my desire to help a friend get her art noticed would unleash a backlash.

satan

Now to be perfectly honest, I know my friend in NY can go from zero to bitchy in less than sixty but I also know she has great taste and I thought introducing these two women would be a great idea. I sent an email and gave her the heads up that she may get contacted by someone regarding hand painted shoes. I even said if you’re not interested no worries—just thought you two might have mutual ground. I have always admired her for leaving the corporate world we were both in to follow her passion about fashion in NY. She is smart, talented, and accomplished.

A perfect match , right?

After I hit send, I felt like I was Julie Andrews running on hilltops with arms stretched wide, not realizing a tornado was about to blow me away.

A tornado of tacky. A tornado of bad taste. A tornado of tweets.

I never got a response to my email but I just attributed that to busy schedules and endless fashion parties in Chelsea.

Then one morning this week, my phone swooshed at 6 am. I woke up, grabbed it and there was a text with a picture of a tweet. As blurried eyed as I was I figured the palace had announced another pregnancy or Justin had really been deported but my glee was short-lived. it was my friend Karen sharing a tweet from NY…calling her , maybe even me, out for not understanding how “rent is paid” ….the basic gist was people shouldn’t be asking people for favors.

Really? I thought it was called networking. I’ll have to remember to take down my LinkedIn profile immediately.

I was floored.

I found out via Twitter that my attempt was not welcome.

Nice.

I see rudeness every day…I should be used to it but I’m not. People try to mow me and the pups down when we walk in a cross walk at least 3 times a week, a Barista snarked at me yesterday when I tried to verify the latte she whispered was ready, was really mine, and I am still waiting for a thank you note that is at this count about a year late. I get it that in the mayhem of our lives priorities shift but when did it become ok to be publicly rude?..and by publicly I mean engaging millions of people?

I may use Twitter but I don’t follow tweets because quite frankly I just don’t have that kind of time..if something catches my attention it’s usually because it has caused a PR firestorm. As I stared at the screen capture of this tweet I tried to wrap my head around what it REALLY meant.

Sure– maybe the friend whom I had sent groceries to when she couldn’t afford them was pissed. Maybe she had also forgotten that I had sent her a pair of designer shoes when she was down and struggling to find her place in Gotham. Maybe , just maybe –she gets requests hourly to do someone a “favor”—I won’t ever know because apparently she can’t compose a simple email or call someone to unleash her ire, but give her 140 characters or less and she is Emily Post, schooling someone on how THEY should behave in oblique metaphors.
That’s ok—or is it?

mr. d

When you are a public figure, you can reasonably expect scrutiny and media attention..when you aren’t Alec Baldwin does it make sense? Well that’s a bad example because I think we all can agree that even Alec Baldwin doesn’t make sense any more.
However, this small, in the big scheme of things, insignificant situation is an example of a larger systemic problem.
I blog, I tweet, I facebook, I pinterest but I like to believe that I also still know how to really communicate because at the end of the day, none of those avenues are REALLY doing that.

If someone is nice to me I say thank you, usually with a card or corresponding gift, if someone is talented I try to promote them, if I dislike someone or have no use for them in my life, I stay away—it’s a pretty simple equation. If someone I personally know does something that is inappropriate in my purview, I say something about it..to them, not to as many random strangers as I can find made easy by twitter-verse.

I don’t understand all of the obtuse smokescreens we are creating to get our point across? I’ve done it too on occasion but I like to believe I have learned from that approach.

You see that meme on a Pinterest board and you think that one person in your life will see it on FB and change their habits..seriously?
Umm no.

We have stars, companies, and public figures using this forum to display they can’t spell, it’s ok to say anything about any subject , be vile about people you don’t know and it appears to have trickled down as way of life for the rest of us. Do we really care about 50 Cent’s world view? Well apparently, 7,412,504 people do.

I was at a media conference last year where the expert du jour said ,” Twitter is this generation’s version of sending a postcard”….great analogy and it reminded me that I missed postcards as much as I miss manners and acceptable behavior.

Speaking of which, I’m going to step away from the blue bird for awhile…I don’t think I’ll be missing much…

 

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Heaven Ain’t Close In a Place Like This

I never thought these words would exit my lips but losing my home was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Don’t worry I’m not being glib or consciously uncoupling from the life I used to know-it is simply that I have learned that when the unthinkable happens to you, sometimes you can persevere and even come out better on the other side. Admittedly we are not even through to the other side yet, but I am really hopeful about the future.

It all unraveled January 7 at round noon…I had been in a meeting and hadn’t taken my cell phone with me..I walked into my office , picked it up and saw that I had 10 texts from Jon..as I scanned through them..each one was more dire than the last. Water was gushing through our building, coming through our ceiling, walls and floor. The fire department was there and no one knew what exactly was happening except that it all looked like an urban out take from that Russell Crowe movie. I grabbed my purse, ran to my car and sped down I40 to see what was happening..as the president of the HOA I also had to be on site to assess next steps.

Because of the danger that electricity and water do not mix, the firemen were putting up caution tape as water poured through the front door of our condo building. I flashed some id and a smile and wormed my way in and stood there in shock. The home I had worked very hard for and had kept despite moves that took me to other states, was now resembling a water soaked napkin. I wasn’t allowed to try and save anything except my cat Bijoux- who was less than thrilled. Jon had grabbed Steve and China-and that was it. That’s what we walked away with, our family. I realize that those are treasures.

I spent a lot of time over the next few days asking why—why would a neighbor stupidly ignore repeated warnings not to turn off your heat in the winter because pipes would freeze? Why had I let our insurance lapse and dragged my feet getting a new policy? Why had I worked so hard for things that were now ruined? Why me? In retrospect, I think the universe needed to teach me a few lessons.

I had never once considered a flood would happen, I lived on the 2nd floor , if anything fire was a concern and I remember thinking it was almost comical that one of the key selling points of the condo had been that it had a sprinkler system which had made me feel safer, the very same system that exploded n the attic dumping hundreds of gallons of water in a building, destroying the homes of 12 people.

As I said in an earlier blog you tend to think this happens to other people, not you.

However, after 3 months of being displaced, living in a campus dorm room, and having any sense of normalcy removed, I have finally come to the realization that despite all, I am glad the flood happened to us and especially me. I won’t speak for Jon, but it has changed me and I daresay made me a better person.

First, I hope I will never take anything for granted again. I had been complaining that the condo was too small and too cluttered just before disaster basically fixed that problem. Our home may not have been perfect but it was a home. Losing it taught me not to take anything for granted.

pipe

This experience has also taught me that people can be extraordinarily kind. We stayed for a week with Jon’s Dad, but it’s always tough to live with someone else, they have their routines, you have dogs, etc and we weren’t sure where we were going to land…with no insurance, expenses would be coming out of our pockets and that would mean a mortgage and a rental payment. Every night for a week, the last words I said to Jon were, “I am scared”.

I didn’t know how we were going to manage being displaced.

Someone at work suggested we ask if the college had any housing we could stay in..and before we knew it, word had gotten around to the Dean of Students that we had lost our home and he offered us a suite at the Senior Dorms, he even relaxed the rule about no dogs. Suddenly we had a roof over our heads.

Every day I wake up thankful for that simple act of kindness. The couch I am sitting on as I type this? The Director of Admissions arranged for us to have it from some old furniture the college had in storage. She even gave us a dining room bistro table from her own garage.

It’s small, Thursday and Friday nights are always a bit loud, and instead of tree frogs and crickets, I listen to the sounds of traffic every night and morning, but we are together and we are safe. This dorm room might as well be Versailles because it is a palace compared to where we may have landed, and as many people do when tragedy strikes.

I’ve learned that while it’s fun to own 168 pair of shoes, 50 handbags and three closets of clothes, I can live with what a single wardrobe contains. We don’t have closets and that forced me to some harsh realities…all the sequin skirts, vintage jackets and Gucci heels will not make you happy. Pretty maybe, but not happy. I still love fashion, I always will, but in a week or two when I start to clean up the two rooms of our “stuff” that are currently covered in construction dust, a large majority of it is going to be donated. If I didn’t miss it , I don’t need it. I’ve been a consumer of goods for many years and the last 3 months have taught me less, truly is more.

You find true friends in those crisis moments. A neighbor of mine whom I had considered a friend truly showed her genuineness when she met me at the condo to move soggy contents so the mitigation company could start pulling down walls, rip up carpets and basically reconstruct ½ of my home. I kept thinking as we worked in less than enviable conditions, wow I have only known her for a few months and she’s willing to do THIS? Rose trudged through debris, helped me pack up 10 years of my life and did it with a smile. As we moved through and made piles of ruined and some irreplaceable items that crews had broken, she kept me focused on the task at hand and didn’t allow me to feel sorry for myself. Sometimes when you are in the trenches of despair, all you need is that one hand to pull you out of it.

Perhaps the greatest lesson of all is I have learned that I am far more resilient than I ever thought. I haven’t slept through the night in three months, any sense of normalcy has been long gone, and everything is just a little bit harder and yet I keep plugging along.

dr jon & kim

Some parts of my life have even flourished. Without all of the sound and fury of a chaotic life, I have focused on that which I can control. I can’t make repairs happen faster or wish away the event, but I can create something out of the ashes. 30+ somethings . Without the distraction of a DVR , satellite tv, etc. I have taken to creating again…one of the things lost was my art portfolio…in the past two months I have created a new one. I realized I was hanging on to a time in my life when I considered myself an artist, and when the “evidence” of that got destroyed, a part of me died…only to be revitalized when I timidly started trying to create images that in many ways speak about these experiences. My first art show in years has now been set for June 6. I have to wonder if I would have done this had I still retained that portfolio crutch from so many years ago ?

Yesterday all of this sunk in when I plopped down on the lawn of a very big church that is across the street from our building—Steve , China and I took a walk and I thought I should sit in the sun for a bit and let the dogs enjoy the warm weather.. I played with the dogs, let them eat grass and roll around. People in cars whizzed past me …rushing around—caught up in this ever rotating mortal coil. I used to be one of those people. I smiled, fell on to my back and let the dogs lick my face as the sun poured over my skin.

Life is hard. Life can be unexpected. But, thanks to a broken water pipe I learned life is good. Really good.

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The Wintour of My Discontent- An Open Letter to Anna Wintour

I really shouldn’t be surprised—nothing is sacred anymore. I’ve watched certain staples go by the way side one by one—I’ve seen people wear jeans to Tea at the O’Henry, Uggs with everything, and I am clearly the only person on the planet still writing thank you notes.

vogue

kim thore’s first modeling gig

However, today when the headline swept up on my computer screen showing Kanye West and Kim Kardashian on the cover of Vogue, I realized that indeed an era has truly ended, the fashion bible has been thrown on the fire of mediocrity, and one of the most uncompromising individuals in the fashion word has apparently decided to shop the bargain racks at Wal Mart where average is the style du jour.

I’m sure most people could care less, but when you care about fashion like I do, trends and dressing as an art form , there are a few things that are constants—things that one should be able to count on. I like to believe that Tiffany’s will never change from robin’s egg blue boxes, Burberry will always make luscious trench coats and breakfast will always be served at Oscars on Park Avenue…and at Tiffanys when TCM runs a Hepburn marathon.

When it comes to fashion, Vogue has always been the main accessory and for a young girl growing up in Winston-Salem, its pages always held a fascination for me, because from an early age I have always loved clothes . This is perhaps best demonstrated by a picture taken of me in 3rd grade with a zippered turtleneck. I am posing with my hand on my hip, and the zipper looks like it was sewn on by a monkey—in an effort to be different and add some edge to my “look” , I had turned my sweater around backwards..not a good look but I was trying.

I remember going through my Mom’s closet and trying on her crocodile pumps when she wasn’t looking and running my hands over mohair sweaters she had bought in Italy. My mother was tall and thin and despite our lack of economic means she knew how to dress well. Back in the day she had worked at Thalhimers and shopped at Nitsa’s and Montaldo’s.

My first job was in retail and my first modeling assignment was for a Vintage Clothing store in Chapel Hill. I wore a 1940’s wool and fur collar coat, earrings the size of saucers and my accessory was a 1950’s briefcase with a vintage issue ofVogue tucked into the side pocket. Whenever I look at that photo I am reminded that it was my idea to add the magazine.

I even remember my first designer purchase. It was a gorgeous scarf I found in Paris that I had seen countless women wearing in fabulous street style—it has since been lost but I adored that big scarf and wore it like a mink stole. I also remember my first luxury item..a cream silk crossover blouse , that took two paychecks and my employee discount to get from the Regency room at Belk. I remember bringing it home and my Mother couldn’t hide her approval..she smiled and ran her fingers over it as if it were gossamer. Little did I know that she would die two years later when I was in college, but my last gift to her was that blouse- she was buried in it….I made sure she was stylish to the end.

vogue

vogue

Vogue always stood for something. It has launched careers, trends and even though its editor has sometimes stolen a bit of its spotlight, it still, was, well “vogue”- in the true sense of the word…a place to find ” the prevailing fashion or style at a particular time.”

The cover of Vogue is considered a crowning achievement—and with few exceptions the person peering back at me has been someone I could admire. Granted March 2011 wasn’t exactly a slam dunk—Lady Gaga is the epitome of w.o.p.- weird on purpose—but until her recent SXSW headline grab—even she made sense in a world where Galliano is a go to— at least she has a decent business sense and a real job. Somebody has to sell crazy, right?

Anna Wintour may have been the editor to change the direction of Vogue covers by using celebrities instead of only models, but the Masthead might as well now be changed to In Touch or People if a third rate, obsequious rapper and an equally vapid reality tv show starlet are featured as an iconic duo who have contributed something to the world other than selfies and boorish behavior. I could get it –maybe — just maybe–if one or the other were a true fashion icon or even had talent. The last time I checked reverb, delay and auto tune does not a singer make and proving your butt is real through x-rays is the epitome of banality.

So maybe-just maybe, it was all a mistake? Perhaps, Wintour tripped on a Louboutin and banged her head? Vogue used to be cashmere –now it wears like polyester. ..and apparently the Devil doesn’t wear Prada after all—apparently she wears an in ear mic and a see through blouse.

Let’s cut to the chase—despite Ms. Wintour’s protests, what this really means is money can buy you fame, a spot in the magazine rack, and enough false eyelashes to last you until doomsday. It can buy you Vogue and I always liked to believe that somehow the cover wasn’t on the selling block. Maybe that was naïve of me but I held on to it anyway.

It’s no surprise that Wintour has already defended her choice but it sounds rather implausible to me.

vogue

vogue

“As for the cover, my opinion is that it is both charming and touching, and it was, I should add, entirely our idea to do it; you may have read that Kanye begged me to put his fiancée on Vogue’s cover. He did nothing of the sort,” Wintour, also the creative director of Conde Nast, wrote:

“Kanye is an amazing performer and cultural provocateur , while Kim, through her strength of character, has created a place for herself in the glare of the world’s spotlight, and it takes real guts to do that.”

So Anna, I have this to say to you—

“As for the cover, my opinion is that it is both disappointing and nauseating, and it was I should add , entirely not your idea to do it—it was the subjects, and the pressure to move product–yes we did read that Kanye begged you to put his fiancee on the cover –as a man who thinks it’s ok to interrupt people’s acceptance speeches, and believes his own hype that’s to be expected. Kanye is nowhere near an amazing performer and did you actually type the words : cultural provacateur? Well, yes if we use the real definition, he is a person who provokes trouble, causes dissension, or the like and this is what you want to promote? Kim has strength of character? No, she has a sex tape and a stage Mom, who created the glare of the spotlight—it doesn’t take guts to do that, it takes a camera crew, good lighting and a publicist. She is famous for being famous—hell even her step father is buckling under that world and shaving off his adam apple and growing his hair out in a bob. So Anna, let’s not call sweat pants business casual and why don’t we just stay away from adding any kind of false legitimacy to one of the most self involved, irritating couples to roam this planet. You can’t recover easily from this –just like an Ed Hardy tee shirt , it burns your retinas. I’ve been a faithful reader for over 20 years but consider my subscription canceled.

You made something beautiful, tacky and tasteless and when you said “Commercial is not a dirty word to me”, apparently you really meant it.”

vogue

vogue

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The Deeper the Cut

As I sat there in the waiting room, I couldn’t help but notice the woman in the large dark sunglasses and big floppy hat to my right—don’t get me wrong I adore big accessories—I was sold on them the moment Audrey Hepburn tried to hail a NYC cab in Breakfast at Tiffany’s but this wasn’t a street in NY this was a doctor’s office..wait—I suddenly got it –it was a doctor’s office who specialized in Blepharoplasty, so maybe she’d had it done. Wait, before you google it—let me explain— It’s eyelid surgery.

hepburn

hepburn

And I was definitely considering having it done. You see several years ago when a psycho cat of mine jumped on my face while I was sleeping and ripped open my eyelid, I found myself in my GP’s office having my Rocky-esque eye checked. There was the tiniest of a scar at my eyelid edge but I took a few extra scars home with me that day and they’ve been with me ever since.

The doctor told me that eventually my eyelids would droop to the point my eye sight would be affected. Great, I get to look like a Shar Pei and walk into walls? Awesome, just what I was hoping for as I aged. She scanned my face and then quipped but if you get surgery done it won’t be cosmetic because, you know, you won’t be able to see through your droopy eyelids. Well, not in so many words, but that’s what I heard. That was about 9 years ago.

So when I started having problems with seeing and I noticed my eyelids were starting to look a little lazy, and moved with my makeup applicator, I thought I’d ask my dermatologist if I was finally a candidate. She said maybe and out of earshot her nurse leaned over to me and said, “It’s a shame you don’t live in Florida, they’d take you in a heartbeat”

Wow. That thud I heard was what was left of any self esteem I had.

So here I was in the office of the best eyelid surgeon in town—apparently he creates magic with lasers. Pink Floyd for Plastic surgery.

So I feigned interest in a 3 month old In Style magazine, and kept trying to catch a peek at “Audrey” across the room. She was having none of my intrusive staring –the side of her chapeau seemed to grow larger as she cocked her head sideways.

Suddenly they called my name and I was put in a room where I had to go through a series of eye tests. At one point my face was a picnic as my numbed eyelids were propped open with plastic tooth pic-y things..not comfortable at all but I figured if they discovered my eyesight was compromised by my lazy eyelids it was going to be worth it. I’d have 25 year old eyes again, people would marvel at how young I looked and makeup application would be a breeze.

Like most women in their 40’s, I look in the mirror and wonder where my youth went? When I smile, I now have google earth streaks springing from my eyes and those frown lines are getting deeper and deeper. I’ve never thought I was particularly attractive, I have odd features, and a non traditional look, but the days of having good skin, my one claim to fame, seem to be way behind me…and it happened fast. Too fast.

Suddenly the multitude of eye tests were over, and they showed me into a room and the eyelid magician appeared. He got right to the point. I would eventually be a candidate but my eyes were not bad enough yet for my insurance to pay for the 2500 procedure…I did some quick math in my head-so, realistically, how many mortgage payments could I skip ?…and then he started telling me about the procedure…a thin laser would cut away all of that extra skin and…suddenly the reality of cosmetic enhancement got a little too real. I wouldn’t be able to return to work for a week or two, I could expect bruising and for some people it was really profound, I wouldn’t be able to drive for a week…the incision would be in the natural fold of my eye…all of a sudden I started to feel a little queasy. Dr. Doolittle just seemed so cavalier..we’re talking lasers on my eyelids and he’s sounding like he’s running down the takeout menu at Jimmy Johns.

He handed me a tri-fold brochure and quickly left. I sat there for a minute feeling like I had fallen down the rabbit hole. Then I pulled out my compact from my purse. I looked at my eyes in the mirror and thought- you know maybe this isn’t such a good idea—maybe I can just tape the skin at my temples back and pull everything behind my hairline?

I walked out and noticed “Audrey” wasn’t in the waiting room any more either.

And then the Oscars happened. And then Liza Minnelli happened. And then Kim Novak happened.

As I read through all of the posts about plastic surgery disasters I got angry. This was especially true when I read the Twitter witch hunt going on about Kim Novak. You see in a weird conversion of worlds, that hit a little too close to home. Why? It is because I am named after her. The story goes that my oldest brother had a huge crush on her, so when I was born, he begged my Mom to name me after her. I’ve always joked that it’s a shame I didn’t get her looks too. I’ve seen most of her movies—and I used to marvel at her elegance and other worldly beauty.

donald trump

donald trump

As I scrolled through the commentary, I saw Donald Trump’s obsequious tweet and thought—wow—a man who is overweight and has possibly the worst comb over in history, felt it perfectly acceptable to tear down an 80 something actress who had work done in an industry that places an extreme amount of importance on looking good..and those standards have seeped into normal American life, because, whether you are former Hitchcock icy blonde or a 40 something Director of Marketing, if you are a female the standards are awfully high.

Whether it’s weight, the size of your breasts or the tightness of your face, if you are a woman hoop jumping is non-stop. Hell, maybe that is why my eyes look tired. I’m just plain exhausted. Still, it makes me angry that after all of the outcries, the love yourself just as you are campaigns, women still are expected to look a certain way . Just ask the human Barbie, she’s trying to become a “Breatharian”…all in the name of beauty by Matel.

I put away my computer and took a good, hard look at myself. In the big mirror. With no makeup on. I have freckles and new lines, and my skin is apparently showing the stress of the last few months. Then I leaned in really close and looked at my eyes.

Sure, my eye lids look like they are packing for a trip down South and eventually I may have to have surgery because I will lose peripheral vision, but I noticed something perhaps a bit more important. My eyes are pretty special—they change colors when my mood does, or when the light hits them…the blue is darker than my Dad’s but that’s his DNA staring back at me…and the eyelids, well those are my Mom’s…and so she’s still with me in a very tangible way too. These same eyes have seen the Eiffel Tower, St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and at least 12 pubs in the West Midlands of England. They have gazed upon the Mona Lisa, seen the gilded Versailles palace and watched sunsets off of Kiawah Island. They’ve seen people slip from this mortal coil and the face of a newborn. They’ve cried, laughed and given that stare I am famous for in some circles.

So maybe they aren’t perfect in a cosmetic sense but I am going to try and love them again. Maybe, I’ll listen to some Guess Who and pour through pictures of Shar Peis ..and maybe just maybe I will learn to love me..the me that is now.

 

 

guess who

guess who

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