Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What to Wear





I don't think that casual Mondays are a thing in practice, but yesterday was a casual Monday. I went tromping around a cemetery - that sounds really bad now that I read it back, like I was kicking things, which I wasn't - which you'll see pictures of in due time. I've been in sort of a style rut for a while now, in that I really just don't know what I want to wear most of the time, so I just keep wearing the same clothes over and over. This felt like a problem, you know, like I was refusing to eat anything but cookies, but in the visual clothing sense. Then I read this post by Kallie of Happy, Honey & Lark, and started to think that maybe this is actually the beginning of my real, adult wardrobe - which is cool, and also kind of daunting. Maybe it's less of a crisis and more of an "I like what I like" situation. Right now, it's looking like a ton of stripes, a ton of jeans, and a ton of stuff from the Madewell sale section. I haven't taken a lot of outfit photos lately for a ton of reasons - laziness, pudge-liness, coldliness - one of them being that I don't know what I'm doing clothes-wise some of the time. This outfit felt very casual and very me and made me feel good, and the lighting was decent, and it wasn't tundra weather, so I decided to take some photos.

A lot of things have been changing lately, and a lot has been going on - a lot of good things, and exciting things, and gut-churning things, and I'm looking forward to seeing how my style (ani-) morphs along with everything else. And look, you can see our backyard a little bit. We're hoping to plant some sort of garden this spring. Right now, there are potted tulips dying on the steps leading up to it, though, so we'll see how that goes.


Shirt, Cardigan: Madewell / Jeans: Gap / Sneakers: Keds / Hat: Asos / Purse: Fossil




Saturday, March 15, 2014

Photography & Poetry


Last Tuesday, I went into the city to go to a cool reading called Photography & Poetry. Now that I'm not in school anymore for the time being, and no one is forcing me to read a book of poetry per week and write one poem per week, I've been trying to make more of an effort to push myself to read more and write more and especially attend more readings. One of my biggest college regrets was not going to more readings on campus, and I forreal don't want that to become one of the biggest regret of my twenties, so off to readings I've been going. It's always kind of intimidating, the thought of entering a room full of writers to hear even better writers read, and the thought of potentially speaking to some baller poet - forget about it. But I always always always feel so happy after a reading and excited to get home and try to write something new, so whenever I'm feeling doubtful I remember that.

This particular reading was pretty cool because it wasn't just a poetry reading - it was also a photography exhibit. This cool photographer Lauren Henkin had the idea to pair three photographers with three poets. The photographers would sent three of their photographs to the poets, who would write a poem inspired by each of the photographs. As someone who likes to dabble in other arts and mediums when writing becomes way too difficult, this was something I could totally get on board with. Though I missed the first two readings in the series because I am the worst, I was glad to make it to this final one, featuring the poems of Lynn Melnick and the photography of Ashley Stohl. Lynn's poetry was painful and strong, focusing a lot on the past and growing up in LA. Ashley Stohl, also from LA, takes a lot of photographs of the young skateboarders who take over the LA beaches. What I really loved was that the poetry inspired by the photographs, was very loosely inspired by them. There weren't poems about skateboarders or watching boys from afar, but rather the poetry and photographs both relayed this sense of how initial experiences with men and boys influenced the art of each artist, which Ashley Stohl explained as the primary similarity she saw between her and Lynn's work. I'm always skeptical about poetry inspired by other arts because of the possibility of too literal a translation, but this collaboration helped me see that a lot of great poetry can be written with the right approach to a painting, or photograph or sketch, and now it's something I really want to try!

All of the photos in this post are by Ashley Stohl, from her "Skate or Die" collection and below is one of my favorite poems by Lynn Melnick that wasn't a part of this collaboration but which is still really great. Have you been to any interest readings or art shows lately?



Everybody In!
by Lynn Melnick


It’s not much of a lie to say I hate the outdoors.
Something about discomfort.

But it’s a lie when I say that I don’t, spitting
on my arm to rub off the layers, what failed to wash.

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,
but if I were asked again I’d say, Let’s skip

the hot drive down, the mockingbird, the digging,
cold coffee with radical strangers, fellow Americans,

wrong-headed love, dunes, rocks, retro round eyewear,
nudity, big ideas, destitute children,

overwhelming stucco suburbs, dubious rafts,
cold waiting, makeshift dinners, communal bathrooms,

piles of quarters, and all the lying.
I spent one hundred dollars on a camera that would document this.

Is there a California I don’t know about?
Smaller, I finished a day floating after everyone left the pool.

There was barking and laughter. I can’t tread water,
but I can master flotation to save myself.






Tuesday, February 25, 2014

City Sidewalks

There are many things to be said for openness. One of those things is that I, myself, don't have a particular tendency for it - for having an open mind, being open to the possibilities of a situation. I am one of those "door is half closed" people most of the time. Embracing the good things about a situation isn't my strong suit, to put it as lightly as anyone could possibly put anything. It's not a great quality, but it's how I've been for as long as I can remember.

I've been reading a lot of articles and blog posts about living in New York lately - how it's a world of magical unicorn dreams, how it's a place whose existence is built around completely WRECKING people, how it's just not the place for creative people anymore. I have been in all three of these - and innumerable other - camps during my life here (really just "my life" since I've been here for all of it).  After a long week of work and empty job searching, I was probably just in the "where is my alcohol and where are my cookies camp." Walking around the lower east side the other day, though, I began to think about it again.

I've been against this city for a very long time. I've been bitter about the fact that in a city of millions of competitive, money-needing people, it's hard for me to find a job doing something that I even remotely want to do for enough pay to split my rent with my boyfriend. I've been resistant to the lifestyle I know I need to adapt if I want to live in a city that I don't completely want to live in, and the fast-paced nature of things that I can't seem to keep up with. I've been very closed, is what it comes down to, to everything about this city. I don't love it enough to justify its demands, and that's overshadowed my relationship with it lately.

Justin and I were getting dinner at this tiny hole in wall Italian place with the word "Lil" in its name the other night. It was cheap, simple, and delivered some of the best pasta I've potentially ever had in my life, for real. Justin was telling me about a movie he'd seen earlier in the day when a man at the next table turned to us to shake his hand. The man was the main actor from the movie Justin was talking about. Now, talking over bread and lemon pasta, he was a real life person. If there was ever a "New York Moment," it was happening at our cramped, dimly lit table that night. And as much as people say, "only in New York," and as much as I hate the myth of "only in New York," I looked up at Justin and said, through spaghetti teeth, "only in New York."

I don't love New York, and it's okay that I don't love New York, I've decided. The important thing, I think, is finding the things to like. I don't like a lot of big things about New York. But I do like the little book stores I'm always finding, and the Lil restaurants with delicious pasta, and that poets I love are constantly reading here for free, and seeing actors from Orange Is the New Black in the Urban Outfitters sale section (this happened that same day, btw) and that I get to explore it with someone who make a place I've lived my whole life feel entirely new. It's not about being perfect, I guess, but about finding the ways to be happy -  and not letting the big overshadow the Lil.

Skirt: American Apparel, Top, Jacket: Thrifted, Sweater: Zara, Boots: Docs








-Nicole


Monday, February 17, 2014

Foxhole Print Shop

I am one finicky lady, let me tell you. As much as I go on and on about how much I want stability ("give me a full time job! give me a life plan!" - excerpts from all of my previous posts), I have a tendency to move around a lot, from thing to thing to thing. I've always had a little bit (ahem) of trouble finding my focus. A while ago, I got an idea to start making literary brooches, and then I made literary brooches, because I wanted to make literary brooches. And that was fun, and brought some great opportunities to me, but eventually, honestly, I got bored. I wanted something new.

In the interim, I've tried a little bit of sewing, a little bit of clay working, a little bit of pillow making, a little bit of day drinking. Nothing really stuck for more than a little bit, though. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that poetry is essentially the one thing that's stuck for me. However, writing is not always easy, and it is not always fun, and it sometimes makes me want to burrow into a hole under my desk with a tray of brownies because, man, it can really kick your butt.

This is where my new endeavor comes in - Foxhole Print Shop. When I couldn't write, but needed to be creative (because that need is a true, real need) I began to doodle. And then it became that whenever I got frustrated with my writing, I began doodling - so much so that I felt myself develop a little bit of a style. Now, I've decided to turn my doodles into prints and start up a little etsy store called Foxhole Print Shop. I'm very excited about this new endeavor, to see what comes of it and where it takes me (and what new doodles I'll spit out...of my hand...?). I think it will at least help me figure out what trajectory I want this blog to have in the future

As a little thank you for all of your support, I'm offering all of my readers a free shipping discount code - "FREESHIP". So take a look around - I hope you like what you see!




(and one photo of my cheesy gopher face for good measure, am I right)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Movin' Out


On Saturday, I officially moved out of "the big city" into "the much smaller city" (they don't really call Pleasantville "the much smaller city"). I say officially because I have essentially been living with Justin for the past few months, just without paying rent (alas) or contributing to buying toilet paper (alas alas). I'm excited and so happy, and not just because this life change gives me the opportunity to sing a particular Billy Joel song every time someone asks me what's going on in my life (but you all just KNOW I am doing that every chance I get). This is my first experience living on my own. Unless you count the one night I lived in a dorm room before I very literally went crying home to my parents. But, no, we're not counting that.

I'm excited about developing a new lifestyle - learning how to manage my time and creativity in this space, finding favorite places in this small town, meeting new people. I've even already done a bit of the latter two. It's been nice to ease myself into this change because, as we all know, I am a fan of little baby steps. And anything that makes the gigantic Jack-and-the-Beanstalk-giant-sized monster step of moving out of my parents' house (dramatics) is quite welcome.

One of the most exciting parts about the move (aside from not being able to see out of my rearview mirror the whole drive up and my desk LITERALLY falling apart piece by piece as we [my parents] carried it into the house) was the prospect of decorating the place. I have to say I was a little worried, though. Buying an apartment together is one thing, but moving into someone else's is different. I was worried there wouldn't be space for me. That this home, that was for so long only Justin's home, would be difficult to transform into our home. It has been an actual joy, and a very easy one at that, making this place feel like my home, too. It has also been an actual joy rivaling Justin's porny movie posters with hand-drawn motivational Tolkien-inspired doodles, let me tell YOU. I'm planning on doing some other posts featuring particular areas of the apartment that I love the most (like my desk nook and our little library) as the place comes together (and as I try to figure out what this blog even is anymore?), so those should be popping up soon. As soon as we vacuum. And as soon as we buy a vacuum. The photo above is a little slice of our living room - including my beloved desk and less than 1/8th of Justin's beloved movies.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Old Year, New Year


This time last year, I drew up a list of resolutions I hoped to accomplish in 2013. Some of them were vague ("put myself out there!!") and some were specific ("focus on getting my poetry published!"). Like a lot of people, I get caught up in the emotional meaning of the new year, the planning and goal making of it. There are a lot of things on that little marker-written list that I did accomplish in 2013. I learned that to spend time by myself is invaluable, and necessary, but that to talk to people I don't know is also essential. I got my first poem accepted for publication and proved that I can write outside of an educational environment. Not long into the year though, I learned that my lists and plans were, well, sort of irrelevant.

This year was not at all the year I expected it to be, which is sort of how all years go I guess, unless you're a psychic medium/time-traveling magician from space. There were the changes I expected: graduating from college, finding new jobs. And then there were all of the things I could never have seen coming. Change is usually the sort of relative that doesn't text you that it's on its way, or even that it's waiting in the car outside to take you to Smashburger. It just sort of knocks your door down and asks to sleep on your couch for a week or two (or longer), especially on the days when your couch is covered in a bunch of clothes and junk you've been meaning to put away.


At the end of February, I was invited to a concert by my friend, who was really only a friend of a best-friend-from-New-Hampshire. I went, surprisingly enough, ("put yourself out there!!") and met his friend, who tbh I hardly even spoke to. Three days later we were dating. Ten months later we're still dating, I'm moving into his apartment, and we're buying toilet paper and 50% off bags of holiday chocolate together. I know more about film projection, Martin Scorcese ['s eyebrows] and how to love and grow with someone than I ever thought I would. I'm in a relationship where I am encouraged to push myself, but also nurture myself, and where I'm able (for the most part) to reciprocate that encouragement. I'm in a relationship with someone who has faults too, and who can work with me to improve both of our failings. I get to be with someone who makes me happy (except when he is farting on me) and that makes me so, so happy (except for the farts because, come on).

Two weeks later, my sister went for a CATscan. Later that day, we learned something was wrong. Later that month we were in a hospital emergency room waiting for a surgeon to tell us that the surgery was successful, and what the mass on her brain really was. I don't really know how to talk about learning that my sister has cancer. I still have trouble talking about it to anyone who isn't my mom, and sometimes even that doesn't work. What I can talk about is how amazing my sister has been, and how I keep learning to love her more even when I think I've reached the maximum level of love (that sounds like an 80's album title but I'm not even sorry about it). It has been strange and so difficult and in some ways amazing, seeing my family morph and grow, seeing my sister struggle and win. She is doing great, and she is strong, and we are going to run a 5k in the spring together.

In 2013 I broke down. I was strong for other people, and learned to let other people nurture me. I loved more than I ever have before. I was lazy. I worked hard. I hurt other people because I couldn't deal with my own emotions. I soared. I learned. I saw my family change. I became a better, louder, more honest, more passionate person. It was not the year I expected, but is it ever? It was worse than I anticipated, and better than I could have ever dreamed.

I have a lot of creative and personal goals swimming around in my head for 2014. To be honest, most of them mirror my 2013 goals, and I like that. I feel like I have a direction, and a solid grip (I actually keep picturing one of those weird tubes filled with shimmery liquid goop that were really hip in the 90's, which is probably more accurate) on the kind of person I am becoming and want to become. Writing, making, growing, loving - that's what I want in 2014. And pizza, always pizza.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Bulldog on the Corner

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A few weeks ago, (meaning it must have been mid-July) I was hurrying through the 80's to meet someone at the Met. My train had run late, making me run late, and I was very nearly running to the museum. On the corner of 84th and Lexington, though, I had to stop. Plopped down, like a dollop of cream, was a bulldog, tan like milky coffee, belly pressed to the sidewalk. His arms and legs stretched out on either side of him, and his tongue bobbed gently in his mouth. I'd never seen anyone more content than that puppy.

I've noticed about myself, for my whole life, but mostly since I graduated, that I have a very rough time with appreciating where I am right now. If I have a part-time job, I need to be working on getting a full-time job. If I'm home on the weekend and I'm not writing, I'm wasting my time. If I'm spending my time doodling or messing around with watercolors instead of writing, I'm a failure who will never get published. If I'm not at a poetry reading, I'm clearly not committed to my future or meeting people in my field. There are so many things that I think I should be doing, that I almost feel like I shouldn't feel happy when I'm doing anything other than those things. And that makes for a heckofalot of feeling sorry for myself and fretting about where I want to be.

But back to the bulldog. I smiled, and other walkers-by smiled, as his owner tugged and tugged at his leash, sweetly saying, "Come on now, let's go, let's go" but he wouldn't budge. He laid, he looked around a bit, she continued to coax him, or try to. But everyone was smiling, even the bulldog looked as happy as anyone ever could. He was lazy, and he slowed us all down a bit, with the way his belly rested on the pavement.

I have an awful tendency to create metaphors out of everything, or try to. Most of the time, they don't work (think, "I am the last brussel sprout on the plate") but here, I like to think I've gotten at something, or at least the bulldog has. Am I applying to many jobs? Nope. Am I constantly writing and creating? I try to write at least once a week. Am I making any art that is good enough to sell? Probably not. I am very good at focussing on what I don't have, and latching myself to the idea that what I have is not enough to be happy. Right now though, there are so many good things in my life. I do not have a salaried job in my field. I do not know what my "field" is, or why it is even called field, like are we playing soccer or what. I am not published. People are not knocking down my door (e-mail inbox) asking me to write for them or be their own personal poet laureate or whatever. Most of the time, this is all that I see, and I overwhelm myself to the point of saying, "Oh boy, what's even the point of trying ANYTHING?" I have a flair for the dramatics. What I have the hardest time remembering is that I just graduated. That I am only 21. And while I love plans and shit, and while in my head of course I wanted my entire life to come together in a beautiful Disney-movie-esque way right after I got out of college, the idea of having my life absolutely set at the age of 21 is sort of terrifying.

I have a part-time job and get to work with some people I really like, I'm in a poetry workshop and have gotten started on a project, I'm meeting more new people, creative people, that are inspiring and who I want to work with. I have a lot of time to do whatever I want. Some days, it will be lying around in American Apparel hot pants and watching Supernatural from the time I wake up to the time I leave bed to go to the bathroom and the kitchen, and then again until it's time for more sleep, and other days it will be going to a poetry reading in the city, or writing a poem, or submitting my poems for publication, or drawing some really hip spooks. Now is a time where I actually have time, time I will regret wasting with wishing for something to fill it with once I do actually have that full-time salaried job (positivity!).

But back the the bulldog. After dallying a bit on the corner, I left him there to go meet my friend at the Met. I don't know how long he laid there, but I have to imagine it was for as long as he wanted to. I always feel that if I'm not moving, then I'm not doing. If I'm not creating, then I'm wasting. But really - and this is the hard part - If I'm enjoying whatever I am (or am not) doing, then that's all that matters right now, said the bulldog on the corner.

Blouse, skirt, tights: Uniqlo, Jean Jacket: Salvation Army, Shoes: Dolce Vita via Marshalls, Hat: Newbury Comics


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