Wednesday, April 16, 2014

radio.



*The Lana Del Rey song above is just 'cause I'm obsessing over it this week. Listen while you read, if you please.

I read this intensely long article on Pitchfork today that describes the evolution of streaming music. Apparently, back when telephones were the new and scary technology, one could pay to hear an opera over the lines, if they were like REAL rich, I'm assuming.

In America, artists have never been paid for airplays on the radio (we're the only country that this has always been the case). Plays on the radio are considered "promotional". So, the outrage about artists not getting paid very well for streaming web services, which is basically the new radio, is less of a blow perhaps? I don't know what I think about this because:

1) I'm too poor to not stream before I buy and I NEED music to live.
2) I'm pretty into the Swedish model of people having a right to things for free. Apparently you can camp in people's backyards in Sweden for free as long as you leave everything the way you found it. I feel I have a right to listen to any music I want, and a Swedish company called Spotify provides this for me.
3) I also think people should be able to make a living off of making music. The record industry model was born broken, and this has always been a struggle for musicians. Always. I twitch a bit every time I pay for an album because I know my money is barely going to the right place.
4) If I made music, I would provide it on a donation-basis on SoundCloud or BandCamp. Because the people I know are as broke as me and I am practical enough to be aware that people aren't going to buy something they can't first listen to...

It's a new time. You don't have to buy a CD with your fingers crossed anymore. This is a good thing. I respect artists pulling their music from streaming sites and taking a stand when they feel they're not getting adequately compensated for their art, buuuuuut not being in the streaming game means not being heard a lot of the time. David Byrne and Thom Yorke can get away with it, for sure, but not littler bands. If I made music, I'd never get heard without making my music free. And if I signed to a major label, I'd be giving them the control over my art. A free model would be the only way I could succeed. Maybe it's not fair. To be sure it's not fair, but I know what it is.

I also, here's a controversial opinion, think artists tend to overcharge for their art in general. I will never pay thousands of dollars for a painting. I will never pay $200 for a concert ticket. I'll never pay $500 for a pair of shoes or a purse. I believe in paying for quality, but not for prestige. You should totally be able to make a living doing your thing, but no one needs to be paid multiples of thousands of dollars per month for their living. Don't get me started on the way wages are "earned" in America.

I think a lot of things should be free. I think television and radio should be free. I understand it costs money to make art, but I want to give the money after I know I enjoy the art. I will TOTALLY buy the DVDs and the music files. I'll buy the shit out of the things I love. I will buy the merch and fund kickstarter-projects for people I respect. I believe I vote with my money, but I have VERY little money with which to vote.

Until the whole system is fixed (like people like me can make living wages with a bit of cush and corporate monsters no longer exist), I will continue to enjoy my Swedish websites filled with gorgeous-sounding music for free, buying only the albums that really bewitch me. To be fair, I am easily bewitched by music. I still spend hundreds of dollars on it every year...more than I can afford.

comfort culture.

You know how you eat macaroni and cheese when you’ve had a bad day at work, or maybe drink a beer? Of course you know, because comfort FOODS are often mentioned in America’s vocabulary. But what about comfort culture? What’s your personal pizza of television, the mashed potatoes of movies, and the fish sticks of sound? While you’re contemplating the dark chocolate paperback that calms your addled mind after a stressful day, I’ll share with you some of my pop culture comforts.

*TV series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer — It’s no secret that Buffy is my favorite nugget of pop culture ever. Joss Whedon’s vision of girl superpowers has entertained my eyes, ears and soul since 1998. The Slayer has lulled me to sleep through some of the darkest evenings of my life, quite possibly the only reason nightmares didn’t engulf me in my early ‘20s. If you’ve avoided this show because of the title’s cheesiness alone, stop denying yourself one of the most influential shows of the 20th century. Buffy could change your life.

Get it: Netflix, Hulu, video stores

Me today celebrating National Library Workers
Week. I'm part Vulcan, you know.
*TV franchise: Star Trek — For the past 4 years or so, Star Trek has been my before-bed ritual. Not every night, but at least a couple of nights per week. If the plot is peaceful, I might fall asleep to the gentle hum of the starship. The DVD menu screen of “The Next Generation” is like white noise bliss to me. Don’t misinterpret, falling asleep to Star Trek isn’t a diss. I LOVE the franchise, but I have this calm and familiar relationship with it. I know I will rewatch each series of Star Trek over and over until I die of really old age, so there’s no sense of loss if I dream through episodes here and there.

Get it: Netflix, video stores

*Album: Air // Talkie Walkie — This album used to be my study soundtrack in college. When I hear the first notes of “Venus” I am instantly transformed back to that space of settling in for a quiet night with books, coffee, and gritty knowledge. Yeah, thinking about studying chills me out. Obviously, I’m a nerd.

Get it: Spotify, iTunes, Google Music, music stores


*Movie: Bandits — Not many people realize the brilliance of the 2001 film starring Cate Blanchett, Bruce Willis, and Billy Bob Thornton. The performances are buzzing with anxiety, emotion, and genuine crazy, an aspect of pop culture that always soothes me…to see others fraying onscreen makes me feel less nuts. Plus, this movie is hilarious if you like understated David Letterman-type humor.

Get it: Netflix, video stores

*Book: Drawing Blood // Poppy Z Brite — In the summer, my brain turns to a soupy-slosh of jumbled thoughts and baking grey matter. It is my least favorite season. To get through the sizzling flames of August, I usually end up reading this lurid tale of two young lovers surviving a summer in New Orleans. The pages are filled with ghosts/psychological demons, children of the night, and early ‘90s-style computer hacking.

Get it: the Joplin Public Library (the very copy I first read in high school!), bookstores

Email me your comfort culture items: mixtressrae@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

self-sabotage and procrastination

I've been agonizing about my definition of self lately. I used to consider myself a writer and then I:

*wrote a "novel" in November
*stopped turning in articles to The Current, Etc at the beginning of 2014.
*failed at revising my novel in February.
*signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo April and have only amassed 2000 words just posting to my blog because I have no ideas for how to tackle anything anymore.

Projects I used to consider fun exercises in writing feel like they're not taking me anywhere anymore. I know what I really NEED to be doing is revising that damn novel, but I'm not. I'm not and I'm in

SELF-SABOTAGE MODE !!!

blegh.

All I've ever known how to do, which is to say that all I've ever practiced doing, is free-association journal-writing. I come to sound conclusions about my insights into self by writing. I don't make up characters that aren't me. Shit, the main character in that stupid novel is just me if my life had a purpose. My instinct is to admit I'm not a writer and stop writing.

This is what I did back when I was an art major. I tapped into a well of creativity and instead of riding that wave, I stopped myself from getting better. It's almost as if I see cultivating talents as an addiction I must squelch.

I know in my soul that the happiest most productive version of me is a person with an entire room to herself. A person that uses this room to glue jewels to things. A person that uses this room to read sci-fi/fantasy novels. A person that uses this room to sit in a comfortable recliner and drink coffee while staring out a window. A person that uses this room to listen to podcasts and knit a mediocre scarf. A person who uses this room to type zine articles on my typewriter. A person that creates as much as she takes.

I am marginally good at several things:

*making zines
*making mixes
*writing off-the-cuff semi-inspirational articles posted to zines/free publications/blogs
*sloppy artistic statements such as collaging, Barbie alterations, and the like
*putting together bitchin' outfits
*dancing
*customer service/anticipating needs of coworkers to reduce their stress-levels at work (basically taking care of background annoyances so someone else can do stellar things, like a muse)

But the majority of my time is spent reading, binge-watching great television, and putting off creativity. I absolutely know that talent takes time and hard-work, but I don't focus on one thing long enough to cultivate it. I perpetually put out unfinished work because if I didn't, I'd put out nothing. I feel that this is a necessary first step in learning something new, but I don't ever move past that step into beginning to put out work that's less sloppy. I have this strange aversion to polish.

Perhaps I'm a secret chaos worshiper. When I paint my nails and mess up, I KNOW I've messed up. I have a good eye for detail. I know I CAN fix it, but I REFUSE. Fuck the system...but what system? The system of an organized nail-polish job? Yeah, that's an oppressive one, Stephanie. Better defy that. I mean, whaaaaat? Rebel without a cause is an understatement. I have this fierce commitment to flaws that I can't reconcile.

I really am quite at peace with this outlook on life, but there's got to be SOMETHING I'm willing to get better at doing. There's got to be at least one thing that I can let myself buff into submission. It's almost as if I feel like a fake if I don't have holes in my sweater. Because who I am is very flawed, very hole-filled, and substantially unkempt.

A few things I REFUSE to do for large chunks of time, for no apparent reason:

*brush my hair
*paint my nails (not that I let them be naked, which is fine, I just let them chip away for weeks before repainting them)
*stop wearing pants to work when they have tiny holes on the seams of the inner-thigh area
*bathe
*fill out paperwork
*get my teeth cleaned
*go to the gynecologist
*dust
*do ANYTHING I've said I'll do, either to others or myself

Sabotage and procrastination. It starts with a middle finger to "the man" and simmers into a dose of self-hatred that eventually gives me the energy to rebel against myself which sparks me into doing a project that mostly sucks, but at least I did it, damnit!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

the moment

Living in it is a tricky thing. We can benefit from focusing on now, remind ourselves that now is all we have...

but we can also get so trapped in "now".

For example, "now" has led me to make poor life decisions because I couldn't see beyond my situation many many times in my life. "Now" has caused me not to commit my experiences to memory and left darkness in the place of important moments in my life. Did I live them when I was there or was I too overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of them to understand them at all?

When I visualize events in my life, the pictures taken at those events come to mind at times when the memories themselves are misty or even nonexistent. What I don't document, I don't keep. I am exceptional at forgetting.

This leads me to thinking about the darkness within. Mine, yours, ours together. I have a blotted out portion of my past. I don't like to think of myself as a victim, but I also can't blame myself for choices that I felt, accurately or inaccurately, were taken from me by people that are horrible. I blot to survive. I'm glad for it because it means that my mind has found a way of coping. I also feel sad for my former self, the choices I could have made, the paths I could have taken.

I feel empathy and worry for those around me that are living within choices they feel are taken from them, choices they'd like to remake differently, or choices they didn't make at all and now cannot make. Going after things wanted/needed is worth it. You may not know what you want until you dip your toes into something sticky.

I am forever beholden to those that kept me alive during years of black. Without my best friend Kim, I wouldn't have made it through the first half of high school. Were it not for my mom pleading with school officials to let me have art classes the first three hours of my senior year, I wouldn't have made it through high school at all. If I hadn't had the almost constant companionship of my brother Sagan the years after high school, I would have slipped too far into the abyss to be reached. We need those around us to shake us. We need those that love us to stick around even when the shaking has no effect.

If you know someone living in darkness, just be there. Shaking, advice, and truth may not reach us, but presence will. Presence and acceptance can break through, even if the person doesn't realize it until many years later.

Friday, April 4, 2014

YouTube for dummies.

I'm learning to upload videos, splice videos, cut clips, add clips, change audio tracks and use crates as makeshift tripods for my iPhone.

It's all very frustrating and rudimentary and strange.

I've done four videos so far and uploaded all but one of them to my channel. They are ASMR videos. Here, Laci can explain it to you:



I'm a little embarrassed about them because they seem so self-indulgent. Most of them are me showing off things I own and talking in a soft and soothing voice. One commenter described my voice as "is good but is sounds slutty". But it's a thing. Like, people DO this. I'm doing this. So this is my coming out blog post, I guess. Most people aren't going to get it. I plan to make about ten of these and then if I have at least 25 subscribers and feel like I'm improving and getting something out of making them, I will continue.

So, if you want to see what I'm on about, go to here. And maybe don't talk to me about it in person if you don't get it...not yet. I'm too delicate. I'm at a stage where everything is really bad quality.

"You see, our band's moving toward this new sound where....we suck, so...practice." -Oz from Buffy

My computer HATES my new video editing habit. It says it's too full of audio files to hold any video files and it ESPECIALLY doesn't want to alter or play those video files. It demands more memory and more space. This is officially the moment where I start to think I might need a new computer. But I've only had this one 4 years. It's got juice left in it. I can beef it up a bit.

Seriously, like, do you KNOW how ridiculously long video editing takes? I'm not even doing anything serious. I'm taking several videos and splicing them together, maybe trimming a few seconds off the end, changing an audio track. That's ALL I'm trying to do. Nothing fancy. Nothing "Hollywood".

This is how long it takes:
*video preparations: 15 minutes
*recording video: 30 minutes
*re-recording audio for video because the wind SUCKS: 30 minutes
*transferring video from phone to computer: 5 minutes
*opening and editing video in quicktime: 15 minutes
*saving edited video to computer: 2 hours!
*opening video in imovie because I need to do MORE editing that quicktime can't do: 30 minutes
*editing in imovie: I don't even know because I haven't finished the last step yet!
*saving after editing in imovie: dunno yet.
*uploading finished video to YouTube: 4-6 HOURS.

Total time uploading one crappy little 20-minute video of me showing you the contents of my purse: 9-12 hours. OMG. Really?! Reallly?!?


I've never been very good at doing things that are hard or require skill. But I'm willing to learn the basics of most things I want to do. I can knit a scarf. I can hand-sew holes in the armpits of my sweaters. I can record a video with my iPhone and upload it to YouTube. After tonight's foray into the deep waters of video-editing, I may know how to add a different audio track to a video I recorded.

I'm whiny and I just drank a glass of wine from a bottle that's been open at LEAST three weeks.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pervasive beauty.

I have been OBSESSED with perfume lately. I've been ordering samples from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, Possets, and Lucky Scent like a woman gone mad with, you know, obsession. I've researched how to make perfume. I've tried a scent that costs 240$ a bottle, even though I knew it cost that much when I ordered the sample. Because I'm a masochist. And it smells fucking fantastic, by the way. Luckily, the sillage (see, and I learned new words too! It means how far the scent projects from your body, how well others can smell it.) is almost non-existent and I like a scent that ASSAULTS people, so I'm not TOO tempted to talk myself into buying it anyway. Fragrantica.com completely rules my life right now. It's a site that outlines all the notes in different perfumes and has reviews and such.

Let's back up a bit. In 1998 I saw this ad:
I knew on instinct that THIS was the scent that Poison Ivy would wear and I considered myself a devotee. I can't remember what happened next, but I must have been at JC Penney with my grandma or something and I must have tried the fragrance. I knew nothing about notes or sillage, but I knew this scent was for me. My grandma has given me everything I've ever wanted my entire life, so it quickly became mine and I've worn it almost every day since 1998.

I now know that Hypnotic Poison has top notes of apricot, plum, and coconut, a heart of jasmine, rosewood, caraway and a flower called tuberose. Tuberose is sometimes called "corpse flower" because on some people it smells like rotting meat. On others, it smells sickly intoxicating. Every person that's ever had their face in my neck has been, dare I day hypnotized by this perfume. I can't say if it's that addictive sour scent Jennifer Lawrence was talking about on "American Hustle", but I like to think it is exactly that. Base notes are amber, almond, vanilla, and musk. The overall effect of this scent curls up into the pointy part of your nose. After trying dozens of scents the last few months, I go back to Hypnotic Poison knowing that I truly found my perfect scent when I was 16. I will always have a bottle of this evil angel.

In my perfume studies I also learned that Hypnotic Poison is made by Annicka Mendardo. She's made a lot of different perfumes, another of which is called Lolita Lempicka. Lolita Lempicka is actually a perfume house, but its 1997 premiere scent bearing the name was the one made by Menardo.
The ad above was one I saw in Seventeen magazine as a teen and used in collages, though I never thought to try the perfume itself until now. This scent it based on licorice. It has anise, vanilla, almond, vetiver (one of my very favorite notes-- kind of an earthy, wet-cave smell. It's used in a lot of men's perfumes, though I prefer it paired with softer notes or by itself in essential oil form.), ivy, and musk. When I read the notes and reviews, I ordered a bottle without even trying it. I tried to try it, but they didn't have a bottle at Ulta and I didn't want to brave department stores where sales associates might actually, *gasp* TALK to me. Yesterday it came in the mail alongside a bottle of Hypnotic Poison (I was out and have decided I can't EVER live without it again). If this perfume hadn't been called Lolita-something (Lolita is not a concept I'm drawn to, by any means) or maybe didn't have all that gold on the bottle, I would have wanted to try it based on my love of the ads. If I had tried this instead of Hypnotic Poison, perhaps THIS would have been the scent for me. I'm addicted to it. I think I might even be a little allergic to it because my throat gets a little sore the first hour or so after I spray it, but I cannot help myself. I have to stop myself from spraying it every few hours. It is arresting.

My entire identity is based upon dichotomy. I like sweetness undercut by decay. I like pinup girls with vampire teeth. I like babydoll dresses on Courtney Love. The temptress that bites, the rotten fruit, the cloying smell of blood. This search for a new perfume was driven by a need for a scent that would have such a personality that it repels in an intriguing way that makes you want to smell it again. I wanted licorice or root beer or Dr Pepper. I wanted sickly sweet earth, darkness mixed with piercing light. I wanted to be abhorrently intoxicating. In many ways Hypnotic Poison is already this scent for me, but Lolita Lempicka is a siren I may end up wearing almost as often.

If Hypnotic Poison belongs on Poison Ivy, Lolita Lempicka is the scent she wears as Pamela Isley. It's the daytime scent of a woman that smiles sweetly with a dark tendril of tumult swirling in her piercing eyes. Hypnotic Poison is the scent of the same woman at the moment that smile becomes a sneer. You are perfectly willing to follow her into the dark forest of your inevitable demise.

At this moment, I feel that my search is over. My intensity has simmered to that feeling of absolute contentment I get when I feel I have found the "ultimate" of something, like when I found my leather jacket. I would still like to try to make my own perfume someday, but I think I have a top 5 that will probably remain the same.

MixtressRae's top five perfumes:

1. Hypnotic Poison

2. Lolita Lempicka

3. Midnight Poison: this is my "going out" scent. It opens with bergamot and simmers into vanilla, amber, and patchouli. That bergamot punches you in the face! I wear it almost every time I go to a nighttime social event. It is so inextricably linked to socialization, drinking, and good times with friends that if I'm thinking of bailing, I can spray it on myself and be instantly ready to GO.

4. Malediction: from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. It's a mixture of patchouli and vetiver. Simple, powerful and comforting.

5. Gypsy Grave: from Possets. It has vetiver, musk, clove, flowers, incense. It smells like gravestones and dying flowers, like dust and damp earth...like the sidewalk after a rain. It truly evokes a cemetery, like ash, death, moss, and teeth-clanging hopefulness. I like this one a lot. This is a great "day off" scent. It reeks of languishing about listening to The Cure on a rainy day.

Monday, March 3, 2014

watching others fall apart...

I was just writing an article for The Current Etc (I'd link to their site, but it's HORRIBLY outdated, like did they put it up in the '90s?!) about comfort culture. I'll post the article later, once the issue has been out for a week or two.

As I was writing, I realized the kind of culture that calms me -- be it music, television, movies, whatever -- is the culture of addled minds and frayed souls. To see others crumble makes me feel like I can handle life after all.

I watched "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" Saturday night. So many aspects of the the relationship between Clementine and Joel moved me, but particularly it's their flaws that make me like them. The open way they start over at the end with their flaws pushed forward makes me so happy.

And then there's this moment where Clementine shatters the "manic pixie dream girl" trope in two sentences.
I don't want to see characters with their shit together. I don't even want to see characters GET their shit together most of the time. I want to see people with pieces of themselves scattered all about them, people broken and bruised that are choosing to live that way, choosing to wear their bruises on the outside. I breathe ragged, but I breathe nonetheless. That's the hardest part for me in my daily life. I want to hide when I feel unhinged. I used to think I had to pull myself together before I could face the world, but the truth is that pulling it together and facing the world sometimes have to happen simultaneously and maybe, just maybe, people can handle you frayed. Perhaps when you wear your imperfections on the outside, others with similar madness will be inspired by you, or they'll see themselves in you.

In other news, Katniss Everdeen is my new #2, after Buffy of course. She is amazing. Flaws are cool.

Friday, February 21, 2014

New Wave.



New Wave is a genre of music I am very familiar with, so it was the most joyful of challenges to accept when my coworker/friend Evan asked for a mix. This is what I LIVE for, children. My nickname isn't "mixtress" for nothin'. I truly thrive on making mixes. Thanks to Evan for the idea and ANYONE reading this, feel free to request a mix via comment or email (mixtressrae@yahoo.com).

I agonized for almost a week on the order of this mix. I knew from the beginning that it would have to be a two-discer, but I didn't know how to put it together or what to name it. Last night, it came to me via two amazing Tears for Fears songs on the mix:

"Mad World" and
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World"

They were sitting right next to each other on the mix and I knew that wasn't right at all, but it gave me the idea for the title of the mixes and how I would separate them from disc to disc. The first disc would represent the earlier part of the genre (1977-1983) when the Cold War was more of a theme and the music was darker overall. This portion of the mix overlaps with punk a bit and the songs within are sometimes referred to as post-punk. Disc one would be named "Mad World". Disc two would represent the later chunk of new wave (1983-1988) when it morphed into a lot more dancey beats. The songs you remember from the credits of '80s movies are on this disc and it's called "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". The YouTube playlist above is both discs in one and is missing one track that isn't on YouTube, one my dad and I made with his synthesizers before I was old enough to remember the experience. Below is a terrible quality version of that song which I am afraid is the only version in existence? Depends on if I find it in my dad's tapes later on and upload a better version.




tracklist
My top five songs on the mix (in order of appearance):

Only a Lad // Oingo Boingo
The Safety Dance // Men Without Hats
Shout // Tears for Fears
The Walk // The Cure
How Soon is Now // The Smiths

For further New Wave listening I suggest:

Digitally Imported's "Future Synthpop"

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Obsessions: The Leather Jacket edition.

I've had "leather jacket" on my list of Big Things I Want next to "hipster glasses", a medical procedure I need to take care of, and bangs. Friday I saw this picture on tumblr:

It's from a website called killstar.com. A quick trip to their website led me down a rabbit hole I didn't crawl out of until last night. Within minutes, I became OBSESSED with this leather jacket:
I gazed upon it for hours. After my intense study of the above picture, I checked the sizing info. There weren't dimensions listed for the sizes of Extra Small, S, M, L, and Extra Large. I emailed the company asking about the measurements of the jacket. The description also stated that the type of leather was "Nappa" so I looked that up. It means lamb or calf skin, or just a word to describe a process that makes the leather really soft.

Here is the point where I have to tell you a bit about my history with leather. I have none. I've been not buying leather on purpose since I became a vegetarian at 17. I'm not sure when I decided I wanted a leather motorcycle jacket. Having fallen in love with the jacket above, I really had to decide, was I ok with buying new leather?

While I waited for the sizing info on the coveted jacket, I began a very potent weekend-long search on Etsy and Ebay and every other place online for the "perfect" leather jacket. I even spent a lengthy detour looking at vegan leather jackets. I was hoping the "perfect" leather jacket wasn't the one that cost $250, possibly made from baby cows.

Probably everyone else has realized this, but in my extensive search (by extensive I mean, I would sit at my computer for hours looking at jacket after jacket after jacket) I began to notice that most leather "motorcycle" jackets have most of the features the above jacket possesses. They usually have zippers on the sleeves (this one does, though you can't see them here), a little snap pocket, snappy lapels, asymmetrical zipper, and usually three zippered pockets. They usually have a belt (like the pink jacket pictured).

I began to form my requirements for a leather jacket. You see, when I want something, it always has to be the PERFECT specimen of that item. In order to reach my requirements for perfection, I have to do an obscene amount of research to know what my idea of perfection is for a particular item. My requirements eventually became thus:

*the jacket had to have some sort of insulation on the inside; I want it WARM.
*the snaps and zippers and pockets all have to be functional and sturdy-looking
*the metal on the jacket has to be chrome
*I NEED those sleeve-zippers
*it has to fit
*I don't want one that's already studded up. Some weird "authentic punk" part of me couldn't possibly buy a jacket pre-personalized.

I looked up the history of the leather jacket. It originated in the Civil War for soldiers. In 1928 Irving Schott created the iconic style we all know to this day, called The Perfecto. This is the jacket worn by Marlon Brando (below) in "The Wild One" that started the pop culture idea that a leather jacket is somehow tough and rebellious. It seems that the leather motorcycle jacket has been ubiquitous ever since. Since my obsession began on Friday, I've been noticing them EVERYWHERE. They're all basically the same, and yet seeing one does make me think someone is tough and cool, so I drank the Kool-Aid, I guess.
One annoying aspect (aside from fit issues, there were several) of shopping for a leather jacket was that many of the product pictures included a very skinny woman with one hand in her long unwashed hair and the jacket OPEN. Um, I can't see what the frickin' jacket looks like if it's unzipped and tangled with your amazing hair and frilly dress. Yes, you look awesome, but please show me some pics with the jacket zipped and your hands in the pockets so I know they work. Is that so hard? I want pictures from all angles and a lengthy description alongside each item. I want a visual and intellectual experience in lieu of being able to touch the item I'm intending to purchase.

Fun fact: those snappy things on the shoulders are called epaulettes and they were originally designed to secure bag straps to your person as you rode into the sunset on your hog.

I honestly did spend several hours Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in this search/obsession. It usually doesn't take me very long to find the perfect [x], but leather jackets are fucking EVERYWHERE, as I said. This is one of the first times in my life I was searching for something that I could find in so many different places. The paradox of choice was crippling. This search was all I talked about. Finally, Monday arrived and with it an email from a woman at Kill Star. She sent me a document containing the measurements for several of their jackets on the site. None of them were the jacket I want and all of the measurements were different, for each style of jacket. She also didn't answer the other questions I had (is it warm? and is it really lambs or baby cows?). The sale on their site, the one that made my coveted jacket 250$ instead of 300$, was ending at 6pm.

At 5:20 after a long day of sifting through a sea of leather I decided that I would make 6pm my deadline for this obsession. If I hadn't chosen a jacket by 5:55pm, I would possibly decide to purchase the jacket on Kill Star, despite my reservations about size (non-returnable if it didn't fit!), baby cows, and jacket warmth. Or maybe I'd have to decide that a leather jacket isn't for me at all. I became an even more vigorous shopping machine. I combed every jacket within my price range on Etsy, and there were many hundreds.

The more I thought about it, the more I knew I couldn't get the jacket on Kill Star. It looks perfect, but according to the measurements of the other jackets on their site, if I fit in ANY size at all, it would be the Extra Large. EXTRA LARGE. I'm 5'5" and 150 pounds. I'm not even overweight, but I'd have to order an Extra Large. How depressing is that? From the UK. For $250. And it might be lambs or baby cows. And I'd feel like shit about that. I really really would. Because my purchase of new leather would contribute to the present slaughter of animals. It's gratuitous. Also, I don't feel morally good about spending a chunk of change on a company that doesn't have sizing for a woman bigger than me. I tend to have rose-colored glasses about my own size, but I know I'm not extra large! Somewhere around 5:30 I knew that the Kill Star jacket would not be mine, even if I didn't find a better jacket in the next thirty minutes.

Then I found it. "Vintage" (from the '80s, so I don't know that you could call it vintage) so I wouldn't have guilt about financially contributing to dead baby cows. The money I'd spend on this jacket would go to a cute hipster chick (I'm guessing--it might be a group of cute hipster chicks and dudes, I don't know) selling stuff on Etsy. That's ok with me. If she buys baby cow meat with my money, at least I'm not directly culpable. It had ALL my requirements. The only issue was that it is a men's jacket. The dimensions for the chest, waist, and hips are all essentially the same, but the chest and hips are pretty exact to my measurements.
To you, this jacket might look like all the other leather jackets, but to me it is beautiful. It is my size. It is insulated. It has functional pockets (even one on the inside!). It's sort of faded, which I didn't know I wanted until I noticed how cool this jacket looks compared to the deep black colors of many others. It's unadorned. It's half the price of the one on Kill Star. The description was long and detailed and the photos were copious and from all angles and levels of zipped and unzipped. This is a fully functional jacket. My search ended around 5:45.

The obsession was frankly kind of crazy...ok, really crazy. Buuuuuut, after finally clicking purchase, I am faced with the same feeling I get every time I do something like this. It is a feeling of relief. A feeling of calm. A feeling of knowing for an absolute fact that if THIS leather jacket doesn't work for me, then I'm just not a leather jacket person. This feeling is one of not having settled. I was thoughtful and thorough. Most likely, I will have this leather jacket until the day I die.

This is how I choose everything of value in my life. I chose to marry Michael with a similar approach to thoroughness, logic, and scrutiny of detail. I know for a scientific fact that he's the being for me and no other will do. I also do this with things that don't matter as much and sometimes it wastes a lot of time and causes more headaches than is required. Generally though, I know what I want and why I want it because I can logically back it up, at least to myself.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A collection of thoughts best when edited.

I'm feeling pretty insecure about revisions on my novel. My writing is all tell, no show. I'm realizing that this skeleton of a novel requires a tearing down, a rebuild and restructure. A whole mess of work will need to go into it and today was an experience of insecurity as I tried to tackle a bit of it. I don't know what I'm doing at all. I am aware that my choices are to quit or to keep going until a glacial pace becomes something more akin to movement. I want to choose the unpaved path, but I'm stumbling...

quite literally, as I fell down the stairs a few hours ago. I wanted to go down to get a glass of water as I was bellydancing and, with my left hand on the railing and my right hand holding the glass, I went down on the FIRST step. If it weren't for the railing, it would have been much worse, but I slid on my back and right ass cheek, weight distributed as evenly as it can be on my right flank. All. the. Way. Down. This is the fourth time I've fallen down these stairs. My right ass cheek feels like a watermelon and my back has stair-burn, but I still finished bellydancing (after crying and then downing a couple of ibuprofen) and I am still going out tonight to have a few whiskey drinks with friends.

Because, though I am untrained and I am insecure and I am a bit swollen, at least I spent time creating today.

I thank the ass gods that I was graced with plenty of meat to protect my bones and I thank my sweet husband for installing a railing a few months ago.

I was also going to write about how I feel about cultural appropriation and the new Dum Dum Girls album, but I think I'll start getting ready to go out instead. Might as well wear my new lipstick and a dress that accentuates a swollen ass.

So, look forward to the following articles soon:

*cultural appropriation: This white girl is all for it as long as it's not done to mock another culture, because a/ she has no culture and b/ her bindhi isn't hurting anyone

*Dum Dum Girls // Too True: amazing Cure-inspired album has been on repeat all week.

Followers