some days are today

Some days, you get to be Julia Roberts in the shopping scene of “Pretty Woman” with your cousin.

And some days, you get to do it two days in a row(!!!).

Yup, today was a good day.

Also, Queen is just plain lovely, and utterly wonderful.

Not that that is anything new here, of course…

Just saying. 😛

Post-a-day 2019

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Passion for Fashion

Located at 227 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, is a little shop by the name of St. Hrouda.  Walking inside, one will find a combination boutique / art gallery, managed by the fashion extraordinaire Nicole Bell.  St. Hrouda’s walls are chicly lined with art and clothing from local artists and brands, including, my particular favorite, those made and designed by Nicole Bell herself.

Though I was in Brooklyn this past July, I have not yet seen this wonderful boutique/art gallery, because it has only recently opened its doors.  When Nicole first took over the space this fall, it was a somewhat drab and old-looking little shop.  Within weeks, she and her father, through their combined genius, had put together one of the most classy spaces I’ve ever seen (even in photographs).  The before and after photos of the space showed how true a transformation had taken place, and they actually had me wanting to jump up and down to celebrate the amazing results.  It is now the bea-U-tiful space of St. Hrouda, named for Nicole’s grandmother, and housing brands from New York, Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Paris, London, and LA, while featuring, of course, Nicole Bell.  And the gallery portion of St. Hrouda displays art by local New York artists (including, again, art by Nicole Bell herself), all for sale.

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On a regular basis, Nicole hosts a ladies’ night at St. Hrouda – from which I always see photos of wine and fabulous personal styling sessions (Think of what Becky Bloomwood does with her customers in the Sophie Kinsella novels) – as well as a variety of other events and pop-up shops/parties to help integrate St. Hrouda into the beautiful community surrounding it.

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Photos of the Grandmother Hrouda who inspired the name, along one of the walls of St. Hrouda

Now, let’s talk for just a minute about the amazing, spectacularly inspired fashionista behind it all: Nicole Bell.  I recently had the opportunity to visit and interview Nicole in her work studio in Brooklyn, just weeks before she began work on opening St. Hrouda.  Nicole is From Houston, Texas, and, only a handful of years ago, founded her fashion brand Nicole Bell.  Nicole herself is a goofy yet stylishly sassy woman who is taking on the world with long legs and big, brave strides.  She never fails to put a smile on my face when I am with her, and her determined outer self never hides the truth of what it really takes to be successful in fashion – life is hard, and making it in fashion is even harder.

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Nicole Bell of Nicole Bell and St. Hrouda

Nevertheless, fashion is her passion, and so she is going for it with all she’s got (and then some she’s still figuring out)!

Every time I see a Nicole Bell outfit, my inner Lady Gaga whoops with joy and longing – Ooooh! I want! I want! it always seems to shout, over and over, not unlike a little kid begging for ice cream.  Nicole’s designs are impeccable and utterly breathtaking on the powerhouse female front.  When I picture my BA* self taking on the world in heels, she’s wearing Nicole Bell.  And the world is looking on in awestruck astonishment. 🙂

Do yourself a favor, and give my interview with Nicole Bell a listen.  I learned so much about the fashion world, as well as how Nicole comes up with her individual designs and collections/lines.  Her sense of gratitude to those who have contributed to her journey thus far – as well as those who continue to contribute and show their support – is clear, as well as her almost unreal dedication to sharing her eye and inspiration with the world through fashion, despite the many, many hardships that have come with her endeavors and that still lie ahead.  Nicole does not have it all figured out, and that is just part of the beauty of exploration involved in furthering her passion for fashion.

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Nicole and Khaleesi, her baby boxer, @st.hrouda

The talk these days is all about getting to know the people behind our food and our clothing  – Buy local is a regular mantra (alongside Know your farmer and Made in the USA, in efforts to support quality products and fair trade, respectively).  The woman behind this shop and clothing line is definitely worth getting to know.  Especially if you’re in the New York area, give Nicole Bell a solid look – she is local and well worth the visit.  And, even if you aren’t in the area, look her up anyway – she’s that good.

When you find yourself interested in learning about the glories, trials, and tribulations of pursuing a love of and passion for fashion, give our interview a listen.  If you missed the link above, click here to listen to the interview I did with Nicole!

Definitely check out (and follow) her Instagram accounts for St. Hrouda (@st.hrouda) and Nicole Bell (@nicolebelldesigns) – the photos and videos on there inspire me just about every day.

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Notes from the interview:

The photographer Nicole really loved from the skate park is Nico Nordström, found at http://www.niconordstrom.com/

If you prefer regular websites (or want to buy something), check out www.sthrouda.com and www.nicolebell.co.

Check out Nicole’s 2018 New York Fashion Week show here – it’s awesome.  Just scroll down a bit on the page that opens for the video.

*Bad-a**, for those who don’t know

Post-a-day 2019

It’s all in the attitude

Do you ever find yourself walking through a store, looking at all the items for sale around you, and feeling utterly sick at the thought of it all?

Walking through a Marshalls today with my aunt and cousin, on a trip my cousin had been wanting for a while for some household things, I had this experience as I walked to the bathroom, just before leaving.

I thought of my best friend, and how she had lived in The Gambia…. the way things are there…., and I thought of how things are in so many similar places, where air conditioning and mattresses and safe showering and clean water are not a given but a rarity and a practically-unachievable luxury… and I felt repulsed by the few items – some foods and soaps and a bottle cleaner for my water bottles and tea bottles – I myself had pulled out, let alone the overwhelming sense of the thousands of items surrounding me that even I found entirely unnecessary and wasteful…

And I felt terrible…

And then I looked into it further than merely being upset…

And I saw that this is the life and the part of the world and the lifestyle in which I have been placed and in which I have opted to remain… there is much I dislike about it all, and yet there is more than enough to keep me in it, wanting to be part of it… to some degree, anyway…

And it reminded me of what I would tell my students whenever they complained about school rules or homework from other teachers or the administration, that this is the school and the society in which they are choosing to participate, and so they can follow the rules and either get over it or work toward change, or they can go somewhere else to have different rules… as long as they select to be at this school, though, they are agreeing to follow this school’s rules.

And so my Marshalls visit was a lot like that for me – I want to be in this culture, and so I have to accept the ‘rules’ this culture follows… I can work toward change, as I already do, and I can work for myself to buy and to use and to produce what I feel is appropriate, as I also already do, and I can encourage and empower others to do the same, all while accepting that this is the way things currently are here, whether I like them or not.

And I totally wanted to go check the dumpster, instead of walking the inside of the store, in hopes of preventing the sad waste that likely was back there… unfortunately, circumstances did not quite allow for such a move today.

So it goes… an attitude of gratitude is a good way to start, and then we can make some real progress. 🙂

Post-a-day 2019

Stromae to Mosaert

After writing about Stromae the other night, I looked up to see if he had any tour dates in the US anytime soon.  Unfortunately, he does not.  However, I discovered that lots of his efforts have gone into his clothing brand lately, and that the brand is spectacular.  All of the clothes are unisex and super cool, are fair-trade, are made in Europe, have an emphasis on sustainable/organic fibers and eco-friendly sewing tactics (to waste as little cloth as possible), and are in limited numbers.  (The last part means that only a certain number, say 25, for example, are made of any one item.  So, for a t-shirt, there would be 4 XS, 6 S, 6 M, 5 L, and 4 XL made, and that’s it.  Once they are sold out, there are no more of that particular t-shirt made again.)  They also include a chart on the cost of production for many items, detailing how much money it actually costs to produce that specific item, thereby explaining why an item is being sold for its specific price.

Check it out.  Here’s the page all about their being an awesomely responsible company, from which you can click to the shopping area to see the awesome clothes, and here’s the page for the company as a whole, which is more than just a clothing brand – check out their About page found on that one.

I just wish I lived a life where it would be practical and affordable for me to get the cardigan 7, which is a sweater I loved when I first saw it in one of Stromae’s interviews (actually, the one I linked here the other night!).  The sweater was cool in and of itself, but it was made even cooler by the fact that Stromae himself actually wore it.  Alas, I do not live such a life (and am instead barely getting by financially as a crazy person doing full-time grad school and part-time-ish work), so the cardigans will go to those who do live such lives. 😛

Post-a-day 2018

 

A day well spent

It’s kind of ironically delightful at times, when things get all twisted out of the ordinary way.

My aunt and I, both of whom dislike shopping, found ourselves out shopping together for quite a while this afternoon, during my visit that was designed for us to hang out and relax together.

And yet, we enjoyed ourselves today, despite the fact that we got home exhausted in the early evening… it was nice doing something like shopping with a co-conspirator of the non-shopping sort. 😛

Besides, when we got home so tired and so hungry as we were, I commented that I didn’t really feel like making any food, and that I really just wanted some biscuits and gravy…, and my aunt definitely agreed, so my uncle made us a super duper breakfast for dinner. 🙂

Post-a-day 2018

Sniffingly a homemaker

Walking through Target tonight, I found myself moving in a sort of comfortable, meditative state… It was late, and I was rather tired from the day… I took several times over the usual time it takes me to obtain an equal number and variety of items at the store… and I somehow didn’t mind it…  I guess this just supports my theory that I secretly – read ‘subconsciously’ – want to be a homemaker-housewife.  When I first moved into my own apartment several years ago, and then again in Japan (when I had to start from, basically, scratch), I felt a certain flow of mental chemicals that delighted me through and through, in a comfortable, this is where I belong sort of way whenever I was shopping for apartment-related items, house items.  And it isn’t to say that I belong only as a homemaker or anything, but simply that it is somewhere of many somewheres where I do belong.

Tonight was no exception.  I moved into a new home and with a new person yesterday, you see.  She has most everything that goes in a house, and I have very little of that sort of stuff, so the match-up is rather good on that front (not to mention that we actually get along really well in the first place, because that isn’t the point).  However, my whole OCD compulsions have me need my own cleaning supplies. —You see, it isn’t enough just to have cleaning supplies.  They must also be nice to the planet, nice to the nose and eyes, and themselves clean (their containers), while kept in a clean space.  Show me a bottle of cleaner that has been under a cabinet and has a thin layer of dust on it, and I won’t even touch it until you have cleaned the bottle.  I probably also with have slight inner daytime terrors of the fact that the bottle is dirty.  Anyway, back to the main point of this all… —-  So, I was at Target, seeking out these cleaning supplies for me for my new home.

I walked calmly, despite the inward thought of how late it must be.  I felt confidence every time I set down the basket and gave a once-over to a certain type of product.  I gracefully selected bottles whose scents I wanted to test, and euphorically sampled their natural essential oil-filled smells.  I smiled at each, and even mmm-ed a few, closing my eyes to embrace the scent.  I usually take my time with scents – I even stop to smell flowers much more often than is common, just to smell them and to indulge myself.  It’s alway sa bit of a bummer whenever I find flower bunches at stores that don’t even smell (or don’t smell good).  Whole Foods is one of those stores.

Anyway, so I take my time with (good) smells, enjoying them, allowing my brain to do any work it feels appropriate whenever it crosses a familiar scent.  I was told when I was quite young that scent was the strongest sense for recalling memory, and I’ve always kept that in mind for some reason, delighting in the silly scents that bring back memories.  (Like how the hand soap in this one bathroom in the house where I once nannied smelled like my grandmother on my dad’s side.  She hadn’t been alive for years at that point, and yet I had no doubt that it was the same smell that was usually on her, though I never seemed consciously to have noticed her having a specific scent before that moment.)

So, I was smelling slowly and comfortably, and enjoying all the familiar and new scents.  One in particular, though I definitely didn’t want it as a cleaning supply, was the replication of some regular smell from some point in my childhood.  I took a picture and sent it to my mom, telling her to go find one and to sniff it, so she could help me figure out why the scent is so specifically familiar.  It was labeled as being scented “radish”, however it was not merely the scent of radishes that was familiar – it was that specific combination.  Perhaps my mother had used that cleaning supply brand and scent at some point.  Though, I’m not too sure of that being very likely, because it seems to be a newer scent from this brand, and because it relates to a specific summer-type memory for me, as opposed to just lots of childhood cleaning days.  I’m looking forward to figuring out that one.  It might take me a little while, a few months’ even, but I am confident that, as with others in the past, I will figure it out.

Post-a-day 2018

 

A brief step behind the ocd and normalcy

Occasionally, I being to wonder if I might actually be a little crazy, or if it is all just in my head… and then I wonder if the two options aren’t one in the same…

I first saw the film “Girl, Interrupted” when I was little.  And I loved it.  But I have no specific reasoning as to why I loved it.  I just did, and so did one of my best friends at the time, Jennifer.  I even gave her the movie for her birthday one year, and she was exceedingly delighted.  We just loved the film.  For whatever reason, it was on my mind this week, and so I watched it today – day seven-ish of my illness-induced infirmity.  Today, possible over a decade after the last time I saw the film, I saw something new in it.  I watched the extras section on the making of the film, and it had, as I suspected to have been the case, the woman on whose life the film was based.  She had written a book about her time in a mental institution in the 1960s, and this director had found the book, turned it into a screenplay (over about two years), and then made the film.

The lead actress, Winona Ryder, spoke of how she wished she’d read the book while she was a teenager, because it had ideas that would have been extremely helpful for her at that time.  Having experienced genuine anxiety attacks, she’d had a glimpse of the sort of life the book described (but without the stay in the mental institution).  And that’s what really got me thinking today.

They mentioned how so much of what the main character suffered was normal for people, very common, even.  And I could relate to her.  For certain parts, not at all, but, for others… completely.  There are times when I look at myself as a sort of outsider, and I can say, ‘Oh, goodness.  Whatever.  Get over it.  It’s not actually anything real.  You’re fine.’  Today, I allowed myself to question myself after that statement.  Am I actually fine? Or are you just saying that? Is it because what feels to be wrong just doesn’t make sense?  Because I am better than this problem?  It kind of felt like a 50/50, really.

So, I forced myself into my 200-dollar vehicle.  After a few moments, I started it, and I drove to the store.  I drove the wrong way to get there, thinking it was the faster way.  And then I couldn’t figure out how I’d gone that way, because I’d known how to get to the store since before I could drive.  When I arrived, I drove at an elderly pace through the lot, and eventually halted in a spot.  It was the first spot, but I didn’t care and still don’t.  For minutes, I sat there, car off.  I looked around a little bit, and wondered what was wrong with me.  This wasn’t the first time I’d had such an experience.  Just recently, my mom had called me as I sat in the Target parking lot, and I was then wondering the same thing.  I couldn’t figure out why I was – was it afraid? – afraid to get out and go into the store.

I had driven to the store with two purposes in mind today (as is often the case when in similar situations): to get out of the house and to get food to eat.  But I couldn’t figure out what to buy, and I didn’t know how to get from where I was sitting to the successful completion of my errand.  And so I sat.  I wondered about getting out of my head, because I was clearly stuck in my head…, except that I didn’t have any specific thoughts going through my head at the time.  The only thought was about how I should probably get out of my head… but I couldn’t figure out what I’d been doing there, if I had been in my head, because there were no thoughts there.  I was just sitting, and I could feel how I was nervous about getting out of the car, but I had no thoughts or words to go with the feeling.  It was just a feeling.  When it finally hit the point of bordering on tears, I gave a big inhale-exhale and got out.

I went slowly into the store and got myself a basket.  I went to the Texas wines to distract myself.  (Not like I’d be buying any.  You see, the rodeo showcases wines, and I always like to check the Texas ones in the store afterward to compare the wine garden prices to grocery store prices.)  It worked.  I sent a photo of a 23-dollar bottle to a friend of mine, telling her how it had been $10 for a little cup of it in the wine garden.  I’d remembered the wine bottle.

And then I continued onward, found the smoothie thing I’d wanted, along with the noodle things I didn’t really want but felt I needed, because I wasn’t eating enough food otherwise (also part of the weirdness that made it difficult to go to the store in the first place).  I even gave myself two bananas and a special water (It’s a fancy, flower-infused water… oooh.).  (I worried about the bananas, but I got them anyway, because they are good for me.  Even now I worry that I might not eat them.)  By the time I passed the Easter candy and had sent various photos to some of my Japanese kids in Japan, I was doing rather well, feeling rather normal and not so shaky on the inside.  I played my audiobook on the way home, and it was splendid.  I felt very much normal by the time I was getting out of the car at home.

And it makes me wonder yet again if anything is actually wrong with me, or if it’s all in my head… or, of course, if it isn’t just both.

I’ve had this thing around going to the store for quite some time.  I don’t remember when it started, but today’s adventure was similar to the others.  Oftentimes, I don’t even go to the store if I’m doing it alone.  I scrounge for scraps of food, and make the unhealthiest of meals for myself in my desperate attempt to avoid going shopping on my own.  If, say, my mom is going, I’ll go along easily.  I even enjoy going along most of the time.  But going alone is a rarity.  I practically beg my mother to stop at the store on her way home some days, just so that I don’t have to go.  I do beg her to go with me regularly, and, when she declines, as she is apt to do, I usually end up not going.  This applies to restaurants, as well as the grocery store or almost any other store.

To me, this all just sounds like nonsense.  Like I’m just being dramatic, and Goodness, get over it.  That’s what my brain says to myself all the time.  Sometimes it works.  Yet this isn’t something that was around for just a little while, and has now disappeared.  It actually seems like a genuine problem at times.  I’ve actually not eaten multiple meals, because of it.  And I’m not talking about only a handful here…  doesn’t it just seem, well, crazy?

It certainly seems crazy to me.  But I’m not crazy.  I know that.  This is just exactly the kind of thing they were referencing about the struggles people have in life that, when viewed with a certain perspective, have us viewed as insane, or borderline.  If this were all someone knew about me, that person would have a completely different perspective than someone who has met me outside of this little pocket of craziness.  And, like the main character in the story, perhaps that first someone would want to put me in a mental facility ‘to rest’ for a while, and the second wouldn’t understand why I kind of agreed that it was okay for me to go.

Anyway… hope that didn’t freak anyone out too much…

Post-a-day 2018