Sunday, January 30, 2011

Valentine's Day

It's hard to believe but February starts on Tuesday and V-Day is just around the corner.  Are you ready?  How do you feel about this holiday?

I love Valentine's Day.  I'm a love-junkie and welcome the excuse to spread a little affection around.  In addition to showering love on my Sweetie, I also send cards to my friends.  Beware!


My Sweetheart doesn't read my blog so I can tell you what I've got her. 

First, a cute teddy-bear in pink pajamas from The Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

Second, a box of chocolates from the best chocolatier in the whole world: Bon Bons in Huntington, N.Y.

And third, two tickets to a local production of the musical Cabaret.

What are you giving this year?  Or hoping to receive?

Filler

The title above is honest.  I bought a pretty dress yesterday at my local thrift-store, but won't be able to take pictures of it until tomorrow.  So... there's nothing to post today except filler.  :)


I collect photos of my friends having fun.  Every so often, a blogger will let loose and show us her playful side.  I love seeing a happy attitude.

This is Freeda, a friend of mine who blogs for the right reason -- to make herself happy.  Freeda makes no effort to "promote" her blog or acquire 700 followers; she's content to just be herself, talk about clothes with a handful of friends who visit her blog, and share interesting facts about her evolving life.

Freeda happens to be one of the sweetest individuals I've ever met.  She is nice through and through, which makes conversing with her a joy.

Next up, a picture of a baby... see below... no excuse for posting it other than the kid is awfully cute!



Photo Courtesy Of Law Mama

Friday, January 28, 2011

Female Life (Part 2)

When I did this feature last week, the response was so positive that I decided to do it regularly.  So, once a week I'm going to throw a question out to you guys and invite you to share your thoughts.  The best part, of course, are your responses, so be sure to check out the comments of other readers.

Here's our new question:

In what ways are you like your mother,
and do you feel good or bad about that?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Natural Beauty

A friend of mine, Nicole, enjoys photography.  She and I have started going out into nature to take pictures together.  You saw the back of her head in an earlier picture of mine.

Nicole showed me some beautiful photos she took last summer and, in the heart of winter, it's nice to look at them.  Here are my two favorites...



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Blue Valentine" (Guest Post from Angela)

I recently joined Ashley's Guest Post Group where bloggers exchange guest-posts.  It's fun and open to anyone.  If you want to join, go here.

I'm very pleased to present a guest-post from Angela of Everyone Loves Lipstick.  Go visit Angela's blog -- she's a wonderful person and skillful blogger.  Here's her post...


I am not exactly sure what I was expecting when strolling up to the Alamo Draft House Theater with my husband to see "Blue Valentine."  If you have watched any part of the preview for this movie, you know that you only got a simple glimpse into the lives of this young married couple.  I wasn't sure if something "bad" happened in the movie or not, but I figured this might be the case since it started receiving so much buzz after its release in early January.

I was so excited when we visited Austin a couple of weekends ago because the theater in Houston that showed most of the Indie films just recently shut down.  I was absolutely heart-broken and I could go on for days and get on a HUGE soapbox about how there are pretty much NO theaters in Houston showing any kind of Indie films with the exception of our River Oaks Theater that contains two actual theaters.  But I won’t bore you with my rants on the arts in Houston.  That being said, I was elated to find the movie showing on Austin’s 6th St during our visit!

After ordering a club sandwich and a draft Blue Moon, I could hardly wait for the movie to begin.  I was dreaming of all of the different scenarios that could happen to the couple throughout the movie.  I am sure this sounds crazy, but I am a HUGE movie person, sometimes getting so into movies I have to remind myself to come back to reality afterwards!

The movie started out a little slow, but still peaked my interest of course because let’s be honest, Ryan Gosling played the lead role. Enough said.  The film went on to flip back and forth between the growing relationship between these two young adults and the tumultuous marriage that ends up ultimately breaking your heart.

One could make so many different conclusions on what would happen throughout the entire movie, but nothing prepares you for the secrets that are revealed.  I won’t tell you everything that happens amidst this intriguing motion picture since I am hoping you will go see it; but my desire is that I can give you enough insight into the film to peak your interest and send you running to the theater. 

I think any married person in the world would agree that this particular film depicts a true portrayal of the diverse situations that every couple faces from time to time.  I don’t believe that every couple ends up the same way that Cindy and Dean do in the movie, but I understand and appreciate the depiction of hard and trying situations that find their way into most marriages at one point or another. 

Have any of you seen the movie Blue Valentine yet?? If so, what are your thoughts!??



Photo Courtesy of http://www.joblo.com/ 



Photo Courtesy of http://www.tengossip.com/

Fifties Fashion

During the past two weeks, I did some research and wrote a lengthy post about women's fashion in the 1950's.  The result was just put up as a guest-post on Angela's blog.  You can find it here.

I put a lot of work into this post and am eager to hear your opinion of it.  Please make a cup of tea, get comfortable and go take a look.  Thanks!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Friendship

Jen is a friend of mine.  She lives in Atlanta.  A little while ago, Jan and her friend Kam started a website that aims to give confidence to young women ("The Closet Narcissist").  Their site, which includes a blog, encourages girls and women to feel good about themselves, and not be dragged down by poor body-image and media-pressure to be skinny.  Their motivation is pure and noble.

In addition to this, Jen blogs regularly and you may have seen her comments on your blog.  She's a lovely person with a big heart.  It's not a surprise she has several dogs and helps many in her world.

Jen was one of the first people to accept me as a transgendered person.  From the outset, she supported me in a true, real way that encouraged me to be more courageous and open to the world.  Jen is part of my personal history.

So, with this background, it was a very pleasant surprise when Jen sent me a free necklace this week.  She and Kam have just started making necklaces by hand and selling them on their website.  The price is low and designed simply to offset the expenses of their positive social work.  I encourage you to take a look and consider supporting their good efforts.

Here's the necklace Jen sent me.  Its meaning is particularly significant to me.





And that's a shoe-charm dangling on the chain!

Monday, January 24, 2011

New York Sights

Some pictures from my trip into NYC last weekend...








Blogging and Not Blogging

I was very saddened today when a blogger I follow and consider a friend decided to stop blogging.  She did it suddenly and deleted her entire blog.  I spoke with her afterward and offered condolences.  She explained she was upset by insensitive treatment from other bloggers and needed to step back for a while.  She said she might return to blogging later on, but needed to nurse her emotional wounds and re-assess whether blogging was good for her.

I'm not going to mention her name.

Her decision was rare but not unprecedented.  In the year I've been here, two other fashion-bloggers I followed closely ended their blogs.  They also did it suddenly and with apparent emotion behind the decision.

Now, none of us has to blog; it's an entirely voluntary activity.  And all of us are free to stop anytime we want.  We don't owe anything to the blogging-world.

I respect and accept these decisions to stop.  I am also saddened by them, both for the pain the bloggers felt and for the loss of their blogs.  When you hear someone talk about their life on almost a daily level and then they disappear, you feel their absence acutely.  At least I do.  I'm an emotional person and I get deeply attached to people, even people I've only met online.  Perhaps that's a flaw, but I accept it as part of who I am.  I care about my friends.

I plan to stay in touch with my blogger-friend and I hope she'll keep in touch with me.

The experience of the other two bloggers is hopeful.  In both cases, they returned to blogging after a month or two, but with a difference: instead of blogging about fashion, they shifted the focus of their blog to something else.  In one case, the blogger started reviewing old movies which are a passion of hers.  She's very knowledgeable about that subject and seems to enjoy posting long essays on it.  Since I share that passion for the cinema, I'm happily enjoying her new blog.  She posts less frequently and that's probably a good thing for her.  Many bloggers complain that their blog takes on a life of its own and becomes more of a chore than a joy.  If you feel pressure about posting frequently, that's probably a sign your blog isn't adding happiness to your life.

The other blogger who left and returned also posts less often now.  Her outfit-posts used to be daily; now she reports biweekly on her personal life.  Because those reports are incredibly raw and honest, she restricts access to her blog to a select few readers.  I'm honored she invited me to be among them.

Blogging can create joy or pain.  If it isn't making you happy, you can change it.  I'm sad my friend stopped today and I hope she will re-think what she's doing and come back later on, possibly with a new approach that suits her better.  Ultimately, I want her to be happy.

Are you happy with your blogging?  Have you ever thought about stopping?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Annual Motorcycle Show

Every January, there is a huge motorcycle exhibition at the Javits Convention Center in NYC.  I always go and enjoy myself.  I go to the show for two reasons: first, because I inevitably run into a dozen friends there and, second, because I like seeing new motorcycles.

All of the major manufacturers attend and show off their new models.  The bikes are on the floor where you can touch and sit on them.  There's a big benefit to that: many times you'll like a bike in a magazine photo but dislike it in person.  And vice-versa.  There's no substitute for actually seeing a bike in person to know whether it suits you.

I own a large touring-motorcycle that, when it was made, was BMW's top-of-the-line bike (K1200LT).  It's getting old and I plan to replace it in a year or two.  BMW just re-designed that model with all new technology and a larger, more powerful engine (K1600GTL).  For the first time anyone has seen it, the new model was displayed at the show.  Here's what it looks like:



In addition to motorcycles, it's amusing to watch the crowd at the show which includes the wide variety of riders.  There are Harley riders, sportbike riders, Hell's Angels and urban youth.  Many club-riders wear their colors and, this year, I saw a new club: "Psychotic Riders M/C."  The guys sporting those colors looked like they belonged to that club.

Have you ever ridden a motorcycle?  Do you want to give it a try?  Come hop on mine!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Other Aspects Of A Post

Sometimes an outfit-post is not about the outfit.

This week, I turned the page of a magazine and saw an ad that caught my eye.  In fact, I couldn't stop looking at it.  The ad was simple: it showed a woman sitting in a chair, wearing the simplest of dresses.  And yet it was mesmerizing.  There was something about her pose, her body-language that was talking to me.  I listened and listened...

That inspired me to try something new.  (I'm all about trying new things!)  I took some pictures today in which I played with poses and body-language.  The clothes aren't the focus, but you can talk about them if you wish.  What I'm more interested in is how the postures strike you.  What do they make you think?

Here goes!







P.S., The pictures were taken in my bedroom.  I have a new chair there.

Authenticity

There are a group of bloggers who, every Friday, answer a list of questions.  Their linked blogs are led by Katy at Modly Chic.  This week, the topic they address is authenticity in blogging.

I am awed and pleased to be named by two bloggers as someone whose blog is authentic.  I'm glad they recognize my efforts to express myself.  I am obviously different from most other bloggers and I'm thrilled that people react positively, instead of negatively, to my blogging.

The two bloggers who kindly mention me are Freeda and Jodi.  I've talked to you about Freeda before; let me tell you now about Jodi.

Jodi is a director of a non-profit organization in Canada.  She is also a triathlete who trains regularly and is more physically fit than any of us.  If I was stranded in the desert, I'd want Jodi to be there with me so she could carry me to safety.  :)

I've been watching Jodi's blog for many months and, during that time, I've seen her fashion-choices improve and improve.  She's really learned a lot from other bloggers and her efforts to sharpen her outfits have paid off.  Jodi is stylish and attractive and her blog is fun to read.

Thanks, Jodi and Freeda!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Female Life

I have always had a deep, unquenchable interest in the lives of women.  Learning about their experiences is important to me on an existential level.

On a train-ride into Manhattan this morning, I wondered if you guys might be willing to help me with something.  I want to learn more about female life -- what it is, how it feels, and what people enjoy.  To the extent you're willing to talk, I'm eager to listen.

I'm going to start with one question and, depending on the response, may develop this into a series.  My opening question to you is:

What is the best thing about being female?

Years ago, I asked a woman this question and her answer surprised me.  She exclaimed with bright enthusiasm: "The clothes!"  That answer probably doesn't surprise you since you're fashion-bloggers, but it was news to me.  I hadn't anticipated that as a possible response.

What is your answer to this question?  Is it fashion?  Or the emotional bonding common among women?  Or the ability to have children?  Or something entirely different?

I'm curious.  And grateful, if you want to share your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Did It!

I reached 50 followers!!

I'm so excited!  It seemed such an insurmountable goal a year ago that I didn't even want to hope for it.  And yet, today, it happened.  Thank you, guys!

Ironically, the 50th follower is someone who's been reading my blog for a while but just never formally signed up.  Her name is Bonnie and she, herself, has a fun blog here.  Thanks, Bonnie!

And thanks to the rest of you.  You make me dance for joy!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Versatile Blogger

Fellow blogger LaToya just gave me a Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you, LaToya!  She has a fun fashion-blog here.

That's LaToya on the left.  She's a fitness-fanatic and exercises regularly.  Can you tell?  She looks amazing.  I laughed when I read that LaToya took a guy on a first-date to the gym.  That quickly weeds out guys who aren't compatible with her!

LaToya got this animal-print dress for $7 at a thrift-store.  That's my kinda gal.

Can you bear hearing seven more facts about me?  I hope so.  That's what the award offers me a chance to discuss.

1. Blogging makes me happy.  Very, very happy.  Happier than anything since I learned to ride a motorcycle.

2. The best part of blogging is interacting with you.  Yes, you!  My readers become my friends and talking to my friends is deeply joyful.

3. I can't believe I have 49 followers.  When I started a year ago, I hoped to find two or three people who'd want to read my blog.  I never expected more than that.  I'm so lucky.

4. Numbers amuse me and the idea of reaching 50 followers gives me a thrill.  I don't know how long it will take, but every day I look at the total and wonder when it will happen.  Just one more!!

5. I can't believe I have followers from other countries, including some obscure countries that don't speak English.  I initially thought the differences in culture and language would pose problems, but these gals speak perfect English and their clothes are very similar to ours.  See, for example, Lidia who lives in Hungary.

Google has a free translation program and, to amuse my foreign friends, I often post on their blogs in their language.  It isn't free from trouble, however...  I recently complimented a Latvian friend on her well-toned arms and Google translated "arms" as "weapons"!  She laughed a lot at that.

6. I always carry magazines with me so I have something to read when stuck doing nothing.  In court, for example, I often have to wait for my case to be called.  In a room full of middle-aged male lawyers in suits, I sit and read fashion magazines and clothes catalogs, planning future outfits.  There's something quirky about that, but I enjoy being myself and not pretending to be someone I'm not.

7. I'm not a football fan but it looks like my home-team (New York Jets) may make it to the SuperBowl and play Freeda's home-team (Green Bay Packers).  Freeda is getting all competitive about it so, if our teams play each other, we've agreed to a wager on the outcome -- the winner gets a new tube of lipstick from the loser!  I love having girlfriends. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Golden Globes

I featured two movies on my blog recently ("Black Swan" and "The King's Speech").  The leads in both films won Golden Globe awards tonight (Natalie Portman and Colin Firth).  Portman and Firth definitely gave the best acting performances this year and they are likely to repeat their wins two months from now at the Oscars.

The award for Best Picture (Drama) went to "The Social Network," a smartly-written and well-acted account of Facebook's creation.  It deserved the honor.

I disagree with the award for Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) which went to "The Kids Are All Right."  That film was a lightweight comedy of little significance.  It was mildy amusing but certainly not award-caliber.

The award show itself was not as good as past ceremonies and host Ricky Gervais (the British comedian who created "The Office") was unusually and unattractively meanspirited.  Even the crowd groaned at several of his attacks.  I haven't found Gervais funny in the past and his material tonight was inappropriate and lame.

Your thoughts on the awards, the show or the outfits? 

Here's what Ann  Hathaway wore.  Can you imagine wearing something like this?


Sunday In New York

I took my good friend Nicole out to brunch today and, afterward, we brought our cameras to a local park.  The ducks and geese were frolicking in the cold; the air was crisp; and the sky was blue.  A beautiful Sunday afternoon!





Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Dress

Some days you just get lucky.  I walked into my local thrift-store today and saw a sign on the door: "50% Off Everything."  Wow! 

A few moments later, I spotted a cute dress that's much nicer than what they usually carry.  With the half-off discount, it cost only $15!  Let me know what you think. 

In addition to adding some jewelry, I tried a new makeup look.  A lighter pink lipstick and brown eyeshadow that matches the dress.  My makeup skill has advanced from atrocious to merely bad, so don't feel the need to lie.  I'm just curious about colors. 

Thanks!





Wisdom

Some wisdom comes easy.  Some wisdom comes hard.

I've been around for a half-century and picked up some wisdom along the way.  The deepest, and costliest, came twenty years ago.

My childhood was comfortable and relatively happy.  Our family consisted of my mother (who ran the show), my father (who dutifully worked at a steady job and listened to my mother), me and my younger brother Richard.  (Those are my parents on the left.)

Everyone obeyed my mother -- she had the overpowering force of a tsunami.  Grown men quivered at the prospect of upsetting her and quickly complied with her instructions.  We all knew there was no choice.  Having my mother mad at you was a no-win situation: she would grind you down until you capitulated; the only question was when that would occur.  As they say of The Borg, resistance was futile.

Despite her forcefulness, my mother was loving and she sincerely intended to help us.  She believed she knew what was good for us and she was going to make sure those things happened.  Our opinions didn't count because she assumed she knew better.

My brother Richard was a year-and-a-half younger than me and he idolized me.  I urged Richard to find his own interests, pursue his own path but he doggedly followed me.  This started in early childhood when I, as older brother, led Richard around and looked after him.  It continued into later years even as I was exploring new things.  Richard imitated me to the point of choosing the same activities I engaged in (e.g., academics; sports), but unfortunately he always had less success with those activities.  I hated seeing Richard measure himself against me and come up short, so I tried to boost his self-confidence by steering him toward activities I had never engaged in and praising his efforts, wherever they reached.  (That's Richard on the left.)

All said, in retrospect, I had a happy upbringing.  Certainly better than some people's.  My family loved me; I loved them; we spent lots of time together; and we went camping every year.  (Camping is a vacation families take when they don't have a lot of money.)

So it came as a shock when, 20 years ago, my mother died.  She had breast cancer and passed away at the early age of 54.  My family reeled from the dolorous event.

Then, the following year, my brother Richard died of a heart-attack.  He was only 33.

These events rocked the foundation of my world.  My signposts, the people I used as landmarks, suddenly disappeared.  Their absence was disorienting.  Who was I, if not Barbara Jo's son?  Who cared if I died myself?  Where was I, if not in the company of my family?  Is the universe cold and uncaring?

I wrestled with these issues long after the shock of the deaths wore off.  I struggled to understand the central question in all our lives -- What is the meaning of life?  Why are we here?

The answer I came up with, which I don't preach but merely state, is that we find meaning in our relationships to others.  For me, loving people and being kind is my natural calling.  Seeking to understand others and apply that knowledge to improve their lives uses my talents in the most important way.  I choose to help people -- and doing that creates meaning for my life.

The effect on me of the deaths of my mother and brother was so powerful that, even now, my chest heaves at the memory.   That tectonic emotional force propels my commitment to help people.  I  believe that helping people is the meaning of my life.

Have you figured out the meaning of your life?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fifties Fashion

I'm doing research for a future post on fashion of the 1950's.  It was a fascinating time when much changed in America.  The country was coming off the austerity and horrors of World War II, there was growing prosperity, and many became economically middle-class with the chance to own a home in the newly-developed suburbs.

Women's fashion mirrored this.  There was a distinct trend toward more feminine and graceful clothes.  I'll talk about the details of that in the future post. 

One thing that struck me though was how similar the collar of my new Jessica Simpson dress is to the collar of a dress worn by Elizabeth Taylor at the 1958 Academy Awards.  Here are the two dresses.  Compare their collars.  Mine is almost identical -- and would be even more so if my broad-shoulders weren't stretching the edges of it outward.






Are they similar or am I imagining this?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dangerous Things

Fast motorcycles are like sharp knives -- they are capable of amazing feats but are insanely dangerous.  Using them, you can savor terrific thrills, but you need to be completely focused on what you're doing because a second of inattention can result in tragedy.

I own both a fast motorcycle and a sharp knife.  My motorcycle (one of two; the other is big and slow) accelerates like a rocket, handles as nimbly as a gazelle and bends the laws of physics.  Before I rode it, I didn't know a body could move through space so fast.  The sensations it creates are visceral and addictive.




When riding my bike, I concentrate solely on what I'm doing.  People driving cars often allow themselves to be distracted; I never do that.  My focus is constant and it keeps me out of trouble.  I'm always anticipating traffic-risks, planning escape-routes and using the bike's heightened abilities.  In fact, mastering the motorcycle's superior talents is a primary joy of riding.  When you develop your skills to be able to push the envelope safely, it is intensely satisfying.

Sharp knives offer similar pleasure.  They glide through food without effort.  But, like fast motorcycles, they demand your full attention.  You don't want to end up being called "Lefty".  I love to cook and have found a super-sharp knife is an essential tool.

For my last birthday, I asked for and received a ridiculously-expensive knife from Japan ($250).  After using it for a month, I love it and would have paid double.  It is such a good, fun tool.  My knife makes cutting vegetables a joy in itself. 

If you're going to use a dangerous implement, it's a good idea to take lessons.  There are techniques to cutting food that almost eliminate the risk of hurting yourself, as long as you're careful.  I took a course that taught me how to wield a sharp knife and would never hand my knife to anyone who hadn't.  It's too dangerous and unforgiving of error.

Here's a look at my new knife...




Are there any tools you enjoy using?

1/11/11

It's 1/11/11!  This special date deserves a post of its own!

Before you return to blog-hopping, let me leave you with a great picture of my friend Sara:


Monday, January 10, 2011

Serendipity

I shop at discount and thrift stores where the selections are unpredictable.  I've gotten in the habit of visiting them whenever I have spare time hoping there will be a gem hiding in the racks.  That hunting paid off this weekend when I discovered a gorgeous dress.  I love its feminine ruffles and shape.

The dress is a little plain so I styled it up a bit.  Any comments or suggestions?




Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dance Fever

A little while back, I confided to you guys that I love dance.  I never had to chance to do it, but my attraction for the art never went away.

Last week, I was walking through Target getting something practical and I saw a striking pair of white gloves with furry fringe.  Although intended for outdoors, they look very theatrical.  A few minutes later, I ran across a sheer bodysuit whose price was drastically reduced.  It didn't take more signs than this for my mind to conjure up exciting images of dance-costumes and believe the Dance Gods want me to play with them.  Think "Cabaret" with Liza Minnelli.

A day later, on a trip to the mall, I wandered into Claire's and saw arm-warmers.  I was sure they'd go perfectly with the bodysuit so I picked them up for $8.

Here are the results.  Please keep in mind that this look is more fantasy than reality -- nobody goes to the supermarket in this!




Snow In New York



It snowed yesterday.  Not as much as expected, but enough to coat my two motorcycles with a dusting that looked pretty and coaxed me into breaking out the Nikon. 

Oh, and speaking of photographs, I ran across a cute one of a baby.  Do you like it?


Photo by Kate at Big City Belly

I hope you all have a marvelous weekend.  Anything planned?