Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Roles We Inhabit

This article by Alyssa Mastromonaco, former Deputy White House chief of staff for operations, addresses something I've been struggling with for some time -- and something that seems particularly relevant to this blog here: Is it possible for bright, opinionated women to also be interested in "frothy" pursuits and still be taken seriously?

I feel like the obvious answer should be a resounding "YES!!", but public perception from all sides seem to say "no" (just read the comments on the original Washington Post article).

Vanity - LBD

It's this question that bothers me: Are women allowed to be well-rounded human beings? I want to say yes because that's my personal experience (and that of the women I surround myself with) -- I can work full time in higher education, wear retro clothing, sew, bake, read YA books, talk politics, talk religion, drink wine, create feminist artwork, take no shit, be an autism advocate, a mom, an adventurer... no one role or experience negates another.

But that's the "real" me that my closest friends and family know, not my public persona. Is it actually possible to acturately present, and be accepted for, all of that by the masses? I often wonder do the folks who come by to read about feminism really want to read about my nerdy obsessions? Do the bookworms really want to see my retro outfit posts? Do my opinions carry less weight because I also post about my love of a good retro hairstyle? Does one post somehow lessen the effect of the other? Not fitting into one niche has always been a problem for me, at least on the interwebs, so it's often on my mind.

"Such dated arguments assume that women are incapable of being both informed and fashionable, that to be a woman of substance and gravitas, to be taken seriously by her peers, she must subordinate her appearance and interests outside the office. Is it so inconceivable that a smart, accomplished woman would have both the latest issue of the Economist and the second season of “The Mindy Project” downloaded on her iPad?"

This idea that spending time watching the CW or shopping for clothes somehow invalidates a women's thoughts and feelings on "important" topics is infuriating. If you dress like a 50's housewife, you can't possibly be a serious lawyer or professor. Being a doctor means you shouldn't wear cute clothes or go out for drinks in your free time. If we can't fit you in a nice little box, we disregard you or try to invalidate you.

But let's be honest: how many of us aren't guilty of judging a book by its cover? Social constructs tell us that women interested in clothing are to be taken less seriously than women who could give a hoot about clothing, hair, and makeup. It's bullshit, but we all do it. We may shake our heads to dislodge that initial thought, but it's a conscious choice we have to make to look past the surface.

There's no getting it right, is there? Care too much about how you look and we call you a slut, an airhead, vain. Don't spend enough time on your appearance and we call you lazy, ugly, manly, dowdy.

So what's a woman to do? For me it means accepting the fact that there's little I can do about people judging me. All I can do is continue to be authentically me, which will (I hope) draw in other like minded folks. It also means never fitting into one particular niche, and you know, I'm ok with that. I'm just going to continue being the awkward, retro loving, creative, book reading, feminist ranting, nap taking, wine drinking, tv watching, curious, working mum that I am.

Parental Visit

And if somebody wants to insist that I'm somehow less of a feminist because I like clothing or watched all six seasons of Gossip Girl over a few weeks, well fuck it, that's their problem, not mine.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Important Stuff


I don't think I gotten a damn thing done last week or so. No laundry (unless you count that one load I had to wash 3-4 times before it made it to the dryer!), no dishes, no blogging, no homework, no studying... However, I think I've done the important stuff:

- Snuggles in bed while watching Futurama
- A train ride with dinosaurs (even if they were a bit scary)
- Built our first family fort
- Roasted marshmallows
- Sunday BBQ with friends
- Swung a monkey in circles until we both had to lay down on the grass to recover
- Gave an untold number of kisses and bear hugs 
- Played Ninja Turtles in the living room
- Lightsaber/glowstick battles
- Laid out on the grass stargazing
- Evening walks around the neighborhood
- Taught the monkey the proper stance when trying to hit a baseball 
- (With much caution and anxiety) Played with sparklers, smoke bombs, poppers, and snakes
- Watched a great firework show right from our front yard
- Consumed numerous popsicles 
- Drank quite a few bottles of wine (responsibly, of course)
- Sang the ABC song an ungodly amount of times
- Ate sugar snap peas right off the vine
- Listened to some CCR & Johnny Mathis on my new record player
- Had a water balloon fight or three
- Took numerous much needed naps

As you can see, I've been busy trying to enjoy life. Those who know me know how difficult it is for me to be "in the moment" so I feel like the last few weeks have been a challenge, but a much needed one. Instead of putting away the laundry, I had tickle fights. Instead of doing dishes, we laid out stargazing and laughing. Instead of homework, I had snuggles.

I guess you could say that I'm trying to stockpile summer memories with my family, especially for (and of) that fast growing monkey of mine. Soon he'll be 5, then 12, then 18 and I know that sooner rather than later, these moments will be a thing of the past. As a teenager and adult I know he's unlikely to remember any single moment he experienced at 3.5 years old, but I hope he grows up knowing that we had fun and he is loved beyond measure.

And I'll make sure, once he's grown, he sees all of the photos of what I'm calling his "No pants summer". That's what moms are for.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Vintage Inspiration - Rita Hayworth

I suppose it was inevitable that a fake redhead like myself would fall for a fellow fake redhead: Rita Hayworth. Her longer hair worked as great inspiration for a haircut phobic like myself. I went for a modified long-length middy at my last haircut -- totally worth it for pulling off vintage styles.

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Born Margarita Carmen Cansin, Rita started her entertainment career as a dancer. Studio executives thought "Hayworth's image was too Mediterranean, which reduced her opportunities to being cast in "exotic" roles, more limited in number. With encouragement, Hayworth changed her hair color to dark red and her name to Rita Hayworth. She had electrolysis to raise her hairline and broaden the appearance of her forehead. By using her mother's maiden name, she led people to see her British-American ancestry and became a classic "American" pin-up"

Sadly, Rita did not lead a charmed life. She married five times (including a marriage to Orson Welles in 1943), had two children, and suffered greatly from alcoholism. Ms Hayworth died in 1987 due to complications associated with Alzheimers.

Surprisingly enough, I've never actually seen her most famous work: "Gilda" I've watched clips on youtube of the more famous scenes, but that's it. It was her turn as Rusty Parker in "Cover Girl" (with Gene Kelly) that turned me into a fan.

Are you a Rita fan? If so, which of her roles/movies is your favorite?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bookworm Wednesday v27

Personal Details
Hello everyone! I’m Amia, a 23 year old library school student, knitter, blogger, coffee drinker, and avid classic-movie watcher. Oh yeah, and I like to read!

I blog over at Teapots and Belles where I cover fashion, everyday life, music, movies, and books!

Have you always been a bookworm? 
I have been a bookworm since the day I learned to read. In second grade I was given a special pass to pick books from the third and fourth grade side of the school library because I was reading the others so quickly. Whenever I went to the public library I would pick out about 10 books every time and the librarians would always ask if I was going on vacation (I wasn’t) and I would bring them back a few days later, all read. If I had time to read like this now, I would, but that whole grad school thing gets in the way.

What are you reading right now?
Currently I’m reading two books, the first is Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick (I am a HUGE Elvis fan), and Death, A Life by George Pendle. It’s a story based on a personified Death and how his life in Hell has shaped him. It’s a bit odd but an interesting point of view.

What will you read next?
I honestly have no clue. I am addicted to Half Price books, and every time I go in I buy at least three books. This has caused me to have two towering stacks of books to read which are almost as tall as my bookshelf. I’m leaning towards either Foundations by Issac Asimov or Vilette by Charlotte Bronte.

List 3 books that you always wanted to read but haven’t gotten around to:
Catcher in the Rye- J.D. Salinger
On the Road- Jack Kerouac
Mansfield Park- Jane Austen

Do you collect any particular author?
I don’t collect a particular author in the sense that they are my favorite and I need everything they own, but I usually get stuck on an author and read everything they’ve written for a few months then move on to another author. This has happened with John Green, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Orson Scott Card just to name a few.

Have you ever disliked a book so much that you couldn't finish it?
Yes, and they end back up in my to read pile which is bad because I feel guilty not finishing them. Every once in a while I go through and clean out the ones I stopped reading but it usually takes a while. One I’ve been trying to get through is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I watched the tv mini series of this book and its sequel World Without End, so I bought both books. Follett’s writing is so dense with detail I start to not pay attention as I read and they’re both 900+ pages long. Normally this isn’t a problem but knowing that his writing style doesn’t agree with me makes these books seem a little impossible.

Where do you usually get your books?
I mentioned this already but Half Price Books. They have the best collection of used books and I can’t get enough. I can also sell back some books that I didn’t enjoy and get more books so I see no problems with it. Every once in a while I use Amazon if there’s a specific book I want and I already checked Half Price or if I want a box set. I recently ordered a new set of Harry Potter books because my brother and I shared those when we were younger and I have no idea where the original ones are.

Where do you do most of your reading?
It really varies. Majority of the time I would say in bed in my room, but I do enjoy going to the park or even my backyard and reading outside. Coffee shops are also a nice place to read, especially early in the morning when there’s just you and students quietly working on laptops.

Do you read books more than once? Which ones and why?
This is the biggest cliché of all but I read The Great Gatsby every summer, usually in June. It has turned into my way of knowing it’s officially summer by reading about my favorite love-to-hate characters. Ender’s Game is another one I’ve read over and over, just not as consistently as Gatsby. This was my first step into the science fiction genre in high school and it opened the whole world of sci fi to me.

Do you have any "guilty pleasure" books -- Something you're almost embarrassed to admit enjoying? 
My mom and I read the worst chick lit. We went through all of the Confessions of a Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella and all of her other books. I don’t know if I’m actually embarrassed by them but maybe a little because they’re not at the top of books I recommend to others…

What was your favorite book when you were a child?
Little Women by Lousia May Alcott. I love the March sisters so much, I actually just used the book for a semester long project for library school and it was nice to do research on the book and the author now.

What is your favorite passage from a book?
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall” -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.” -Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

What do you do with books when you finish with them?
I’m a bit of a book hoarder so I keep them and they go into my ever growing bookshelf. I also have some boxes of books that can’t fit so sometimes things get put in those as well.

Do you loan out your books to friends/family/coworkers?
I’m not opposed to loaning out books, but I really don’t do it often. I would have to give them a speech about taking care of the books by not dog earing the pages or writing in them, but after that, sure.

Top 5 Favorite books
This is such a hard question! I think I’ll just do top 5 of books I’ve read in the past year because my favorites change often.
Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
Paper Towns - John Green
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
The Last Tycoon - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 1-3- Douglas Adams

What ONE book should we all read?
I really love Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I feel so badly for Heathcliff and get angry at Catherine every single time. I think when a book can actually make you cry, laugh, or have any feelings out loud while reading, it’s a good book.

Bookworm Wednesday is a (semi) weekly book nerdy post featuring the reading habits of wonderful ladies from all over the blogosphere.
Interested in participating? Shoot me an email [grimmricksen AT].

Friday, May 9, 2014

Insta Recap

Instagram Recap
1.Valentine's Day   2. New (darker) hair   3. New member of the gnarmy   4. Pincurls  5. New York is always a good idea   6. Stupid car problems   7. The night we first met (in person 2008)   8. My office/craft/library/closet   9. Like a kid in a toy store   10. Luxelite brooch!   11. Said brooch in action   12. Ebay score

Instagram Recap
1.Parenting   2. Yes, that's me wearing pink   3. Girl Scout cookie overload. And yes I ate almost all of them myself)   4. Wanderlust   5. Oh how our garden grows   6. Like mother like son   7. Homemade mint patties   8. I need more coffee   9. Zombie pin-up   10. Sewing materials   11. "What are you doing mom?"   12. First go at foam rollers