Liebster Award

I am happy to share that Ajah Wallace over at Le Non Cote has nominated me for a Liebster Award. This is my first blogging award and it’s such a pleasure to know that others read and appreciate what I post here. It’s a tiny corner of the Internet but it feels sacred to me! So, per the rules of this little community tradition, I must share 11 facts about myself, answer 11 questions, and nominate 11 others and ask them questions. Let the games begin!liebster_award

Facts about myself:

  1. I was the first person to wear glasses in my school. I was 6 years old and I felt really mature for needing glasses. Everyone made a fuss.
  2. I hate cracking the spines of books and will read really big books by just peering through a six-inch gap. Les Miserables is coming along nicely this way :)
  3. I cannot do simple addition/subtraction without a few seconds’ concentrated effort but I really enjoyed my high school calculus class.
  4. My parents are both Italian immigrants and a lot of my family is still in Italy. I’m half Barese and half Sicilian, but I still can’t tan in summer.
  5. I cannot speak Italian as well as I want to. It’s so hard to get going when you’re afraid to make a mistake!
  6. I have an occasional stutter that made giving presentations in college a lot more interesting.
  7. My toes are double jointed.
  8. My favorite band is Muse, but they’ve been disappointing me for years.
  9. I’m a part-time waitress at my family-owned restaurant that has been in business for almost 40 years. Yes, I can make you a decaf cappuccino with amaretto, like a boss.
  10. I spontaneously get “Sleepyhead” by Passion Pit stuck in my head all the time.
  11. I’m a sucker for a good love story but I hate romantic comedies.

Continue reading…

Thoughts on “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin

A three-dollar paperback is so hard to pass up. For three measly dollars I left Bruised Apple Books last week with a 1970s edition of The Awakening tucked under my arm: all 190 pages of the slim novel. Kate Chopin’s now-classic novella is about a 28-year-old married woman named Edna Pontellier. She has never realized it before, but her life as a wife and mother has become not only stifling and unfulfilling, but entirely unbearable. Her husband is kind and loving, but he’s a man and does not understand her need for personal fulfillment, for a life apart from her duties as a society wife and a mother. Her children and wonderful and she loves them, but she admits to herself that she wouldn’t be willing to give up her life for them–she would die for them, but she won’t give up her life for them.

52277In the course of the novel, Edna undergoes her “awakening.” She realizes how much fulfillment she receives from sketching and painting and befriends a musician to further deepen her artistic inclinations. She stops taking society callers on Tuesdays and instead leaves her home and walks around New Orleans by herself. She begins to sell her paintings. She loves her children but prefers them to be in the care of her mother-in-law. She begins to hate her marriage, even though she respects her husband. She does not conduct physical love affairs but falls in love with another man. She moves out of the manor that she shares with her husband, remains married and largely faithful to him, but takes another home a few blocks away, where she can live peacefully and independently. And at the end of the novel, she drowns herself when she realizes she will never achieve the fulfilling life she has worked so hard for.

Chopin wrote Edna in the late 1800s. She’s a remarkably modern woman living in this late Victorian world, and she’s always confused and has these feelings and wishes she cannot understand because there is little language for it yet. Chopin was generations ahead of her time with Edna. Still, a hundred years after Chopin wrote Edna, after first- and second- and third-wave feminism and all we have gained from these movements, people still hate Edna. This is disgusting to me.Continue reading…

Shoe Lust: Spring & Summer Booties

I’m one of those girls who hates flats, and will proudly wear heels whether I’m going shopping or to a casual night at a pub. I like to clack, what can I say. But I do love the compromise of a casual spring/summer boot with a low heel, because I get the height I want without looking too dressy. I love how a summer boot can make a sundress look a little edgier.

Because of my bank account, stores like DSW and clearance sales are my best friends. Here are a couple of options to fill out my spring shoe closet, and thankfully, they’re all affordable!

Chicwish Chain Boots

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I’ve actually already bought these! They feature a great pointed toe, that amazing shiny gold chain and my personal favorite, a notched heel emblazoned with gold that adds a special touch. I love details that transform something simple into something special. I can wear these in spring and in the fall/winter. Here’s where I got them.

Forever 21 Zipper Boots

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I have also bought these. They’re similar to the Chicwish boots in shape and style but they’re a lot more casual. They’re day boots with a low heel and a zipper detail around the shaft, which make them perfect to pair with a sundress. I also love the color: the rich tan is versatile and perfect for spring. Find them here.

Forever 21 Woven Sandals

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This is a dramatic night-out sandal. I love the modernist heel and the notch in it, but the woven part is my favorite. It’s perfect for crisp spring nights and can also be worn in the fall with tights. I’m usually not crazy about peep toes but these shoes stole my heart. Get them here.

Life Truths by Holly Golightly

“What I found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.”

Thanks to Audrey Hepburn’s marvelous portrayal in the Breakfast at Tiffany’s film, Holly Golightly has become an icon in American culture. The image of her in that classic LBD with a bun in her mouth standing in front of Tiffany’s is one of the most famous images in film and pop culture. We love her because of her quirkiness and charm, and because she somehow remains true to herself while also being an active member of an image-obsessed world. Truman Capote wrote a sparkling character with more wit and wisdom than she is often given credit for. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the novella that show how wise Holly is.

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“I don’t mean I’d mind being rich and famous. That’s very much on my schedule, and someday I’ll try to get around to it; but if it happens, I’d like to have my ego tagging along. I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Holly knows that she wants to remain herself even if she’s famous and very much in the public eye. She knows that your ego can get the best of you and change your personality into something ugly.

“The answer is good things only happen to you if you’re good. Good? Honest is more what I mean… Be anything but a coward, a pretender, an emotional crook, a whore: I’d rather have cancer than a dishonest heart.”

With Holly, being herself means being honest at all times. She doesn’t intentionally mislead people to get her way, and she likens a liar to a criminal. Very wise.

“It may be normal, darling; but I’d rather be natural.”

“Everybody has to feel superior to somebody,” she said. “But it’s customary to present a little proof before you take the privilege.”

“Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.”

Holly speaks these words about her much-older husband. She still has affection for him, even after she ran away, because his kind heart allowed her to flourish into the person she is. His nurturing spirit gave her confidence, and she’s grateful to him for that.
“I’m very scared, Buster. Yes, at last. Because it could go on forever. Not knowing what’s yours until you’ve thrown it away.”

Holly feels a bit lost in her life and doesn’t want to put down roots anywhere. In a fit of emotion she abandons her cat to the streets and then immediately regrets it, realizing that they did in fact belong to each other. She makes the narrator of the story find the cat and keep it.

“I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together.”

Also, did you know that Capote wrote the character of Holly Golightly specifically for Marilyn Monroe? I don’t know about you, but I can’t see anyone else playing Holly but Audrey, as much as I love Marilyn. I do think that Capote had rare insight into Marilyn’s personality though, because Monroe’s personality mirrors Golightly almost perfectly. I almost feel sad that Marilyn never got the chance to play her alter ego onscreen.

Fashion: In The Sun / Warby Parker sunglasses

I was recently given the opportunity by Warby Parker to try on and review a few frames from their new line of sunglasses. Looking through their products, I loved the Spectrum Sun Collection the best and decided to try a few of those. I received the sunglasses through Warby Parker’s Home Try-On Program, a program that lets customers pick five different styles to try on at home for five days, with no shipping costs and no obligation. It’s pretty cool.

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I picked these five frames:

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from the top left: MADISON in rum cherry; TENLEY in burgundy fade; FLANNERY in polished gold; REILLY in whiskey tortoise; DOWNING in revolver black. My favorites were the Tenley and the Reilly. Here I am wearing the Tenley.

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I’d also like to apologize for always wearing these boots.

I really loved the quality of these sunglasses and the details that differentiate these from the norm. The keyhole bridge on the Downing gives it a touch of vintage, and I especially loved the cherry color of the Madisons. I don’t often wear sunglasses because I have a small face, but I liked the way these looked on me!

sunglasses ℅ Warby Parker, bow tights from DSW (Betsey Johnson), boots from Marshall’s (Adrienne Vittadini), top from Kohl’s, blazer from Charade

Love and “The Fault in Our Stars”

When I tried to explain this book to my sister, I said something like, “It’s about two teenagers with terminal cancer and how they fall in love but they also believe that humanity is only temporary on earth and that eventually we’ll all die and no one will remember us because no one will be left to remember, and it’s really depressing but also strangely uplifting.” Needless to say, she did not read the book. I feel like the only way to understand the complexity and uniqueness of this book is to read it. It has entered into YA fiction lore and will soon be turned into a film, but I really wanted to read it before the movie opened. Reading this book before seeing the movie has done a strange thing: it has become mine in a special, personal way.

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal.”

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The protagonist of this gem of a novel, Hazel Grace, speaks those words describing something akin to this phenomenon. With me, it’s like I have found another way to love this novel apart from the millions who have before me, a way to relate to this novel that makes it mine, the way art sometimes enters your heart and soul and changes you. This book has changed me, I think.

The part of this book I loved best was the way Hazel and Augustus related to each other: what they said, what they shared, the lack of self-consciousness that existed between them, the un-cliche romance they had that elevates this novel from what I expected: a sentimental YA romance. It’s nothing like that, and it’s because of the incredible personalities of the main characters.

“I’m in love with you,” he said quietly.

“Augustus,” I said.

“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

This post is not so much a review as a reflection upon this novel. Hazel and Augustus are sparkling, brilliant, larger-than-life characters who are more adult-minded than most adults I know. They show immense courage and take their lives in their own hands, but are not immune to despair. They’re also philosophically pessimistic in the way they believe in human oblivion, and eschew the typical “encouraging” quotes that others seem to subsist on. They know they’re going to die. But they also know that now, they are irresistibly alive. And that’s how I found this book uplifting: 

But I believe in true love, you know? I don’t believe that everybody gets to keep their eyes or not get sick or whatever, but everybody should have true love, and it should last at least as long as your life does.

There it is: the thing that makes life worth living. Hazel and Augustus are sixteen and seventeen, both going to die long before their times. They neither show extreme self-pity nor extreme cloying sentimental optimism (usually). They’re realists, taking each moment to be with each other before they stop living. It’s that maturity that lends another level of depth to this story. They accept what is going to come, but they don’t use it as an excuse to stop living their lives while they have the time. Continue reading…