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10.26.2013

A Letter to Everybody

I've had this post mapped out on my computer for a few days now and I decided that now is the right time to post it.

I really didn't have the intention for this blog to wind up being a personal diary, but I'm afraid that's what it's becoming. My life is boring and I suck -- that's nothing to write about, isn't it? I didn't want this blog to become two things: whiny or angry. It annoys me to know that that's exactly what I'm doing right now, even if those two descriptors are perfect words for my personality.

If I could be honest for a second, I'm just a very angry person and anger doesn't translate very well to a fashion/lifestyle/whatever-this-is blog. I'm not talking punching walls or blowing up at Dunkin' Donuts employees (who could probably beat me up anyway), but a pure, cynical outlook on everybody and everything. I originally started this blog with the intention that I was going to be as sweet as pie, wrapped in a cute, little, PR-friendly bow for public consumption and that I would be a nice girl from the ghetto with a middle-class, suburban mentality. Needless to say, that's not who I am and that all goes out the window as soon as I go on to Twitter or anywhere else on the Internet. I'm already disliked due to my loud mouth and strong opinions and I haven't even posted all that much on here. 

I find myself writing a post or planning an outfit only to completely scrap it because I know how closely it will be criticized and it's all my fault. I feel like I'm too much of this or too little of that and it's not a good place for my mind to be. Public blogs aren't for the faint of heart. I jumped into this all too quickly. I finally found a place where people would actually listen to me and gave me the time of day and actually made me believe that I was worth something. Without planning it out, this blogging thing kind of backfired in my face. 

The person who I am now isn't the right person to have her thoughts or outfits plastered on the walls of the Internet for all to see. Maybe once I've grown up a little and experienced life a little more, I'll come back and write publicly again if you guys will still have me.

To all the people who were rooting for me, I'm sorry that I didn't live up to expectations or didn't post on here all that much. I'm hoping that in the near future, I can start posting on here again, be myself, and have something good come out of it.

5.23.2013

Note to Self: Take Another Route

I've started to carry my house keys in between my fingers now. It used to be only when I was coming home at night after choir practice when no matter the time of year, I always seemed to get home after the sun went down.

My neighborhood used to be a huge part of the industrial ring in Philadelphia during the first decade of the 1900s and a century later, most of those factories and mills have long since closed down, being replaced with either gigantic, metal shells of steel, exteriors of crumbling, graffiti-ed brick, or expansive lots where some people choose to dump their garbage, needles, old mattresses, et cetera. These abandoned buildings basically leave this place with multiple hiding spaces and narrowed alleyways that are overrun with big leaves that make everything look like a forest. A literal urban jungle, I suppose.

Due to my surroundings, beginning when I was little, my mother instilled in me so many rules in order to keep me safe.

Walk in the street when you're alone because people could drag you into the alley and hurt you.
Never take the exact same route home every week because people could follow you.
If you walk somewhere, walk where people can see you.
Someone asks for your wallet, throw it to them and then run.

Needless to say, I'm a nervous wreck on a near constant basis, but highly prepared for the worse at all times and when it's raining and nobody is outside, I get to pretend I'm in the middle of Dickensian England. A Dickensian England dotted by Chinese takeout places and five dollar nail salons.

I usually cut through a vacant (albeit, clean) lot to get home from the train. Most days, I get to my house when all of the other students from the more local schools do, despite my school being an hour and a half away from home by train and bus. Anytime I see a man, I keep my head down; I don't make eye contact, as if to say, "Just please leave me alone."

A group of young guys, four of them sat on the wooden fence around the lot and my heart started racing. I suddenly got very interested in my moccasins. Then I looked up (so I wouldn't look vulnerable), and then chickened-out and looked down again when one of them went, "Psst..."

Just keep walking.

"Psst..." and after a few moments of not turning around, an old, trampled on McDonald's cup went soaring past my head while I heard the sound of him calling me an ugly hoe and the rest of his friends giggling. Giggling at an ugly hoe dodging a thrown cup or giggling at their friend being ignored by an ugly hoe in torn moccasins and a pilled choir sweater, I really didn't know.

All I know is that something like that would have never happened to one of my male cousins. Or one of my uncles. Or one of my guy friends. They're men, so they don't owe themselves to anybody and they're not ugly if they ignore you either.

I've never felt so humiliated as when I put my two keys in between my fingers while the sun was still out.

5.01.2013

Finding Fashion

Just last week, I got word from Johns Hopkins that I had been accepted to their dual enrollment classes which would take place this summer. In exchange for five weeks of being taught by world-renowned professors and sharing classes with undergraduate students, I was going to be given status as a full student and seven credits to be transferred to the college of my choice upon high school graduation.

Of course, my mother rejoiced, and thus followed a week of her telling everybody who would listen. It felt very similar to a point that happened around this same time last year when I had been accepted to NYU's summer dual enrollment sessions. Acceptance. My mom telling everybody the good news. Tuition sticker shock. Anger that I couldn't pay it. Receiving full scholarship. My mom telling everybody the good news about the tuition. Packing. Going crazy. It's following the same pattern now: rinse and repeat, it seems. 

Everybody says New York is where they find themselves and I can't disagree. New York is where I first discovered fashion; what it felt like to be myself. 

I immediately knew from the moment I stepped into my dorm at Weinstein Hall that it was all going to be different. Everyday I had my best outfit on and everyday I walked out of the lobby and down the street to where the Starbucks was, ordering an iced coffee and finishing whatever Calculus problems I had left from the night before or proofreading whatever essay I had written about the use of style in Baz Luhrmann's Red Curtain Trilogy. I never felt so much like myself as I did when I was in New York City.

Hipster wannabes commuting from Brooklyn for their daily classes, some professors who dressed like hippies, girls who clearly had walked the five blocks or so from SoHo, people in suits meeting in bistros for important brunches. It was me. And I loved every minute of it. 

For the first time that I could remember, I actually held my head up when I walked down the street. I wore heels everyday to class and I felt like I could cry every time I walked from my dorm's lobby to Bobst Library down the street, feeling as if I could conquer the world. 

That was when I knew fashion got me.

It wasn't so much the change of scenery that made me feel this way, but my relation to the atmosphere. The way I never got yelled at as I crossed the street or felt as if I was going to be roughed up by someone because I happened to be wearing an outfit that made me feel at home and alive. 

It was during the last week of my stay that I walked into Jimmy Choo and tried on every pair of wedges I could find, sipping on a fizzy Perrier and still reeling from the fact that the door had to be opened by a security guard. I went into Current/Elliott and browsed. I sat in Prada and grazed my hands over the leather of a cherry red bag. I went into Margiela rapping Kanye West verses in my head like an idiot: What's that jacket, Margiela? Coming back to my dorm empty-handed after a day of window shopping, I felt as if I floated all the way back from Bleecker Street. Because I was just me. You could only imagine my sadness when I finally returned to Philadelphia, rolling my huge suitcase over the garbage patches in the street wearing my standard uniform of jeans, t-shirt, and brown sneakers with a velcro strap.

This of course sounds like a love letter to New York City, but in actuality, it's not. It's a love letter to fashion and what it did for me last summer.

It hooked me and it trapped me because it made me feel alive for the first time in my life. I didn't have to deny myself or do two hundred push-ups in a cramped bedroom to feel real and tangible. I could put on a structured blazer or a bright, yellow top and finally feel something. At the age of sixteen and eight months, I found myself. 

Here's to hoping Baltimore will give me the same peace. 

4.17.2013

Start by Starting

Perfectionism is such an awful trait to possess when starting something -- anything, really. It's such a human quality to strive for something great and an even more human quality to be great at something you love; just to know you can throw your entire heart into it.

I was dreading taking my first pictures yesterday. From the time my alarm went off at five, to the time I left my last class at two, the only thing on my mind were those pictures. How am I supposed to pose? Please don't let it be cloudy all day. What if I'm just not photogenic enough? I got dressed and went into my backyard to take pictures. Two little boys, no older than seven or eight had gone into the alley behind my house and started to yell and point and laugh. Inside, my pictures turned out grainy and overexposed and the table that I had been using as a makeshift tripod collapsed onto the floor and broke my camera, sparing the memory card.

Three hours after I began, I finally had shots to work with. And thus, with pressing the button to publish, I closed my eyes and exhaled.

To be absolutely clear, this is not an example of resilience or rising to the occasion or anything else that makes blogging sound like the hardest, most difficult job in the world. It's a lesson of passion.

Months ago, reading Atlantic-Pacific and The Chriselle Factor would have put me off of blogging after my first try (much like I suppose drama students get turned off the moment they see Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren or Daniel Day-Lewis perform). But doing things even when they aren't quite comfortable is essential if you love something enough. When you put your entire focus into work or something you love, maybe it won't be perfect, but that's the biggest part of the process: acceptance and love for what you do even though it might not be your best.

Needless to say, my first attempt at fashion blogging didn't keep me up last night, because I could go to bed knowing I worked with what I was given. Fashion has given more to me than I could ever dream of and thus, I give back all I have to it, even if it made me break my camera in the process.

4.16.2013

OOTD: The Jungle Book

013


011


220


Blazer: XOXO, $5.00 (Thrift)

Blouse: LC Lauren Conrad Pleated Blouse, $1.00 (Thrift)

Bottoms: Exclusive Denim, $5.00 (Thrift)

Shoes: Wanted, $12.00 (Forman Mills)

Bag: Unlabeled, $8.50 (Thrift)

Nail Color: Aegean Coral by Estée Lauder (Discontinued) // Similar Here in Hot Coral //

* (The blazer was also a DIY -- I added sequins to the lapels)

4.13.2013

An Official Start

If someone had told me a month ago that I would be starting a blog, I would tell them that if that thought should ever even enter my head, feel free to slap me square in the face. I would have probably said, "I don't have the time," or something along the lines of, "Is this a fashion blog I'm starting? Because all I have is a point-and-shoot," and possibly, "Who am I to even think that people would want to hear what I have to say?"

Well. those statements are still very true and will continue to be true very far into the future.

I'll tell you the truth and say that I still really don't know what I'm doing. Although after posting some of my writing online about a week ago, I finally decided that maybe, it was time to just jump in and stop being so afraid. Of rejection, of not being able to do anything right, of all of my photos coming out very crappily (my auto-correct just told me that that crappily isn't a word, but it stays).

So what is this all about? I really don't know. Hence the dilettante part of the name because I seem to be the jack of all trades and a master of none. I write about many different things -- mostly about my life, or rather, how I see the world. I write about my experiences, my passion (which at the current moment is fashion), anything and everything that I know.

I can't promise you that my writing won't put you to sleep or that my photos will be of the best quality (or that my fashion sense won't make you wrinkle your nose in disgust), but I can promise you that I'll try hard enough to see that this is always a place written out of pure happiness of what I'm doing... even if I don't quite know what I'm doing at time.

To all of the people that are supporting me so early in the game, thank you so much. I'll try not to let you down.


Any questions? Concerns? Advice? Anything? Feel free to contact me at any time. 

4.10.2013

Diamonds

It’s often puzzling to me how many people in this world are enamored by diamonds and other sparkling things; how some of these people find it perfectly reasonable to spend thousands of dollars for something so tiny and so easily reproduced (aesthetically) in a plastics shop. I’m starting to realize that this is because diamonds – real diamonds are so rare. So much sacrifice and war and torture go into finding them, cutting them, and eventually placing them on a velvet display mount in Tiffany’s. Taking this logic into consideration, how can it be that so much of us dislike ourselves? Even detest ourselves?

Fate of birth is tricky and at times unfair, but the sheer probability of being here is one of the tiniest numbers in the Universe. We’re rarer than diamonds a million times over, yet we often do not see this, instead choosing to focus on our faulty natures. Whether we didn’t get that promotion, or we’re late on payments of some sort, or we got a low grade or a telling off from a superior. We beat ourselves up and it’s lauded. Because of this, it’s nearly impossible to show self-love in this world. For the moment it occurs publically, people are called “vain” or “narcissistic”. So rare are we to love ourselves that the moment we show our wonder to the world, others can’t help but push it back down into our very depths. Essentially, in a world where rarities of beauty are esteemed, even diamonds are more loved than humans. Not lovers or friends or family, but more often than not, ourselves.

If you look around you, there is nobody who is like you. (Nope, not even if you are an identical twin.) You can search the world over and you will never find anyone who is exactly like you. Yet, look at the next three married women you pass on the street and see if you can tell the difference between the glistening rocks on their ring fingers. Can you identify the cut? Tell me how many carats it is? Can you even tell if it’s real? Perhaps she’s just wearing it so men won’t bother her when she’s just trying to read a book on the train. You probably won’t be able to see that big of a difference in symbols that adoring significant others paid such a hefty price for.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a commentary on consumerism, but rather the things in which we place the most value on, or at least seem to. Diamonds cannot read you a story, nor can they kiss you. Louboutins – no matter how long you’ve been maintaining that red sole cannot dance with you or argue with you. Also, I’m quite sure that that latest gadget you waited for eighteen hours to buy outside of the Apple store cannot hug you or invite you over. And for some, that may be the perfect life. But should they be so prized, so loved and so valued while most of us can’t even look in the mirror at ourselves without internally cursing something that we could never control in a million years?

There’s us. Just us. And there’s nobody in the world that can fit beside us like a perfect puzzle piece. We are so rare; so hard to find, so hard to perfect, and yet, so hard to love. We are so seemingly imperfect in our own eyes. The probability of being in this world is slim to none. The idea that if your great-great-great-great-great grandparents had never met (and thus, disrupted your entire familial chain), you wouldn’t be here is… a sobering one. And a lovely one, to say the least. Despite the hardships of life, if we weren’t here, we wouldn’t also be able to experience love or a sunset or a warm breeze. None of it would be felt.

Love should be given freely to ourselves, no matter how hard it seems. We’re not diamonds or Louboutins, or the new iPhone, we’re rarer. And so much more shiny.

And that is amazing and worth loving.