May 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm (It's all about me)

I came across this Tennessee Williams poem in an old copy of the New Yorker and fell in love even before I determined it fitting for that whole Rapture thing going down on Saturday.

Suppose that
                              everything that greens and grows
should blacken in one moment, flower and branch.
I think that I would find your blinded hand.
Suppose that your cry and mine were lost among numberless cries
                 in a city of fire when the earth is afire,
I must still believe that somehow I would find your blinded hand.
                 Through flames everywhere
                    consuming earth and air
I must believe that somehow, if only one moment were offered,
    I would
                                find your hand.
I know as, of course, you know
                                the immeasurable wilderness that would exist
                  in the moment of fire.
But I would hear your cry and you’d hear mine and each of us
   would find
                  the other’s hand.
                                    We know
                  that it might not be so.
                                    But for this quiet moment, if only for this
                                        moment,
And against all reason,
                  let us believe, and believe in our hearts,
                  that somehow it would be so.
                  I’d hear your cry, you mine –
                                    And each of us would find a blinded hand.
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Friday Four

May 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm (Friday Four)

I’m listening to “Kick Drum Heart” by The Avett Brothers.

I’m reading Faithful Place by Tana French.

I’m craving a plate of amazing seafood (The Man’s legacy will be my love of oysters) from Anchor Oyster.

I’m coveting this Tibi silk skirt. And this one.

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Well Suited

April 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm (future, shopping)

I have not worn a conservative business suit to work since Boston. My professional attire ranges from jeans and flip flops (really, I love California) to things that take the place of a suit (blazer+pencil skirt+blouse), but that is about to change. Methinks business school calls for a new suit. Me(also)thinks my tired Banana Republic version (circa 2000) will not be appropriate for the (exciting! uberprofessional!) functions I will inevitably be called upon to attend. What to do, what to do?

Considerations:

1) Shape
I would like to be covered and respectable, while also continuing to make my gender obvious. A waist would help. Perhaps a one-button cutaway jacket?

2) My shape
I have a bit of an hourglass figure, but with broad shoulders (swimming doesn’t help). I have experience buying the jacket two sizes bigger than the slacks, but the shoulders+breasts combo rules out certain brands (J.Crew, DVF, possibly Theory, and many others that don’t make suits and therefore will not be mentioned because they make me sad).

3) Purpose
As much as I might love to go all Vivienne Westwood, this is business school. I’m not exactly the Brooks Brothers type (I leave that to Future CEO, who makes conservative look fresh), but even in California, I’ll need to tone it down to suit (ha!) my audience.

4) Cost
Despite how I feel about this Armani, my landlord will not accept the gleeful modeling of my new suit in lieu of rent, so I need to be reasonable. The definition of reasonable bounces around a bit, but this Boss Black is definitely at the high end. I’m also aware that, ideally, it will last me a good 5-10 years, so I’m willing to splurge.

This whole search makes me want to fly to Washington (DC) for a weekend of shopping in the suit capital of the United States, but if I factor in the cost of the flight, I’ll have much less to spend on a suit. I think most people would go shopping if they won the lottery, but I’d hire a tailor dressmaker. I know exactly what I want! Any thoughts on how to make it magically appear on store racks? I have a feeling I’m headed down a road toward Elie Tahari, which, actually, is just fine.

When’s the last time you wore a suit?

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It’s been kind of a big week

April 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm (future, in my head, It's all about me, On dating and mating)

There are days weeks months when life throws things at you–sharp things, mean things, exciting things, wonderful things–and expects you to grow seven hands to catch it all…or at least shield your soft parts. During those thing-slinging hours, I retreat into busyness. I take on more work, sign up for a class, go to the gym, and watch TV while surfing the net while reading a book while texting a few friends. It’s a frenzy of sorts, my manic avoidance. It’s exhausting and inevitable. Until, in a moment of strength, I let the quiet catch me. Quickly, before it’s gone, I ask “why?” Why is this relationship failing? Why am I unsatisfied at work? Why do I feel inferior/scared/confused? And then from somewhere deep inside, a quiet voice develops an answer. The answer doesn’t have to be new or even brilliant, as long as there is one. If I understand why, I can move on and let go.

Introspective has always been my style, so it comes as no surprise that over the last few months, while applying to grad school, I’ve been thinking even more than usual. There were the info sessions, the pre-requisite classes, the studying, the standardized test taking, the essay writing, the applying, and the interviewing. And then there was the waiting. To sum up the waiting, it sucked. I am not patient. In fact, when they asked for my biggest weakness, I said, “impatience.” Really, I did. But I learned through my waiting, through this whole process really. I learned about myself, mostly, but also a few key life lessons. I learned enough to realize that The Man and I were not to be. So, yes, this is an upbeat post about ending a relationship and getting into graduate school within the span of four days. Like I said, life throws things. She’s petulant that way.

What I Learned

1) I am an emotional non-eater and non-shopper. On the other hand, all I want to do when something grand happens is go out for a lovely meal and buy entire departments at Nordstrom.

2) It takes time to remember that you’re single. No more blatant elevator eyes for the tech dudes on the train with the excuse that if they look back you’re taken.

3) Yup, still have a thing for redheads.

4) It is not possible to tell someone too often that you appreciate him/her. The support and confidence of family and friends (and The Man, still) has been invaluable through this process and will mean even more as I face the prospect of working full-time AND going to school.

5) Lists will save you. So, on occasion, will cheese, music, Josh Lyman, or whatever makes you unreasonably happy. Indulge. And then get your ass back to that desk because those data sufficiency problems aren’t going to solve themselves.

6) “One’s ability to succeed is always proportional to one’s willingness to fail.”

What have you learned lately?

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Friday Four

March 25, 2011 at 10:06 am (Friday Four, shopping)

In case you haven’t heard, it’s been raining in California for what feels like months (and I was in Hawaii last week). The sun peeks out for a moment (sometimes while it’s still pouring down) and then the clouds roll right back in. Days upon days of this. I’m considering building an ark. In any case, it explains the longer-than-average reading list and the covet section that looks like I’m going duck hunting in Britain. (Do they even hunt ducks in Britain?)

I’m listening to the playlist I call, “Rainy Days and Mondays.” And not just because of the weather.

I’m reading Apollo’s Angels, Me: Stories of My Life (which I never finished), Bargaining for Advantage (still) and The Enchantress of Florence.

I’m craving sukiyaki from Teshima’s.

I’m coveting rain boots–either short or tall–and a Barbour jacket (actually, the jacket has been on the list for nearly a year), which is somewhat annoying since I spent most of last week dressed like this (though I never pulled the skirt up to flash a little cheek as this lovely model has seemingly been instructed to do).

Hunter rain boots (image from shopbop.com)

Loeffler Randall rain booties (image from loefflerrandall.com)

Kamik rain boots (image from zappos.com)

Barbour International Jacket (image from orvis.com)

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What’s in a name?

March 13, 2011 at 3:51 pm (It's all about me)

 

Before we get into this, yes, I’m in Hawaii while you read. But that last post was so serious and, frankly, angry, that I wanted to lighten the mood while I’m off in paradise (avoiding tsunamis). I stole borrowed this from Ashalah.

1. How did your parents decide on your name?
Per Jewish tradition, I was named after a deceased relative. My mom tells me it was the woman who taught her to shave her legs. (Seriously.)

2. Do your initials (First, Middle, Last) spell out anything fun/funny?
Nope. But the last two are right next to each other in the alphabet, so when I say them all together in my head, I tend to keep on going until I hit L-M-N-O-P. Mostly because it’s fun to say L-M-N-O-P.

3. Did you take your middle name from childhood or did you take your maiden name as your middle name? (If unmarried, what do you plan to do?)
I haven’t decided how I feel about taking someone else’s name. I mean, I’ll still be me, right? I’ll need to think about it. Whatever happens, there is no way my middle name is going away because I love it way too much. It’s unusual and yet fits so well with my first name (Sara).

4. Are you or will you name your children thematically (ie. same first letter, all of same origin…)
Seriously, children? We haven’t even been on a first date yet and you’re asking me about kids? I guess I should have known you moved this quickly when you asked if I planned to keep my name.

5. Did you decide on baby names as a little girl? Did you stick to them or change your mind?
I chose names for myself, as in what I wished I’d been named. And somehow it was always a very feminine name that could be shortened to a boy name. Like Stephanie/Steve. This must have been the fabulously chic heroine of a John Hughes movie or an ’80s cartoon or something. I don’t think I was sophisticated enough at eight to come up with this stuff on my own.

6. Does your family have any names that have been passed down through generations?
Well, yeah, most of them. (See that thing about Jewish tradition and dead relatives above.) I do think it interesting that my dad’s sister and my dad’s brother both named a child the same thing. My cousins have different middle names and so are usually referred to by both. I think it made them sound more interesting even as children.

7. Do you look at the meaning of the name or just the name itself?
My name happens to mean princess, but it’s biblical. It seems unlikely that the ancients would have come up with a name that means “evil cattle thief” or something, so I think I’d be safe that whatever I liked for more rational or aesthetic reasons would mean something positive.

8. Do you name pets with human names (Sally, Henry) or with pet names (Fluffy, Mr. Bo Bo)?
Both. My  dog was Harold (I really wish I could show you a photo of him because it was the best dog-naming job I’ve ever done. He was a Harold.) Another dog was named after my cousin. She didn’t like that. But others were named silly things instead of real names.

9. Are there any names that you have an affinity or dislike for based on a childhood experience/someone you once knew?
I’m more likely to go in the other direction. I assume that I’ll like Kellys and Davids because I always have.

10. What are some of your favorite names? Why?
I really love the name Elena (long A sound for the E), but can’t use it because of that rule about relatives with the name you like having to be dead. I certainly don’t wish my relative with Elena in her name dead, so any possible future girl babies will have to settle for something else.

 

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As annoyed by inattentive 18-year-olds as I was at 18

February 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm (It's all about me, plays well with others)

The Future CEO and I first met in a PolySci class. I sat in the front of the room, raised my hand often, and hung on the professor’s every word; she chatted away in the back. We kind of hated each other. Obviously, those feelings passed as we became friends outside of class. By junior year, a fantastic American History professor had to separate us because we had somehow morphed into a bizarre compromise between our academic styles: we sat in the FRONT, raised our hands, and still chatted away to each other. To this day, she is the person I would choose first for my team if paper writing were a pairs activity, but we are undeniably different learners.

So I get that not everyone needs to hear every word of a lecture. I get that many students show up because they feel obligated. Or because they are required by parents paying tuition (and the mortgage). I get that distraction is actually good training for cubicle nation. But holy Ghandi are the jabbering teenagers in my community college class making me want to commit violence.

I’ve always been the kind of student teachers love. It probably has a lot to do with my desire to learn and my willingness to do the work. In high school, I endured a lot of taunting for…well, for paying attention. For being pleased when I got an answer right. For unapologetically using big words and wanting to sound smart. I couldn’t wait until college, where I expected the teasing to stop. And actually, it did. The Future CEO may have been a disruptor, but it was only because she had already distilled the readings down to their most important points. She answered just as well as I did when Professor Just got all Socratic on us. At Wellesley, it finally felt OK to be smart. I got used to that. I swam in it and let it wash over me. And then, at 30, I went back to school.

I find myself back in a classroom where I have to walk a fine line. I count the number of times I answer questions (three to five is acceptable, but any more gets me dirty looks). And it’s not that I’m bouncing and waving my hand in the air. I’m as passive as I can be considering my natural instincts. I sit quietly and try to avoid making eye contact with the instructor. I’m also not the only one in the room who gets it, I know I’m not, but it’s just not cool to follow along or have an answer, so the others stay silent.

I’m not in high school any more (praise Aristotle), so I can quickly let it go. My self-worth isn’t wrapped up in any notion of popularity amongst virtual strangers and I step out of that classroom back into my life where I feel comfortable being smart and proud that I love to learn. But for two hours every Tuesday and Thursday, it sucks.

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Friday Four

February 25, 2011 at 10:24 am (Friday Four)

I’m listening to “Windows Are Rolled Down,” by Amos Lee.

I’m reading Bargaining for Advantage by G. Richard Shell. Don’t hold his Wharton creds against him (sorry Future CEO).

I’m craving ice cream. I haven’t had sweets since Saturday. Though I haven’t exactly missed them (and I feel SO much better!), I think a little splurge is in order.

I’m coveting something sort of resembling boots. It’s totally bizarre. I hate boots like I hate techno (the former makes my feet claustrophobic, the latter makes my heart paranoid), but this has been a seriously wet winter (when it wasn’t warm and sunny–I love SF weather) and I’m breaking down. Of course I love these Loeffler Randalls, particularly when there’s talk of snow in the city (http://isitsnowinginsfyet.com/), but these stylish Hunters would make me dance in the rain too.

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BS’s thoughts on love, minus the BS

February 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm (It's all about me)

In his extreme youth Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access: in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.

~Excerpt from Stoner by John Williams

Love is plastic and what we make it. No one is perfect or even perfect for us, they just are. And if we choose to love someone, then we must choose that every day. My mom once told me that it’s never even. At the time, I thought she meant that one person always loves the other more than s/he loves him/her, but that wasn’t it. It turns out that she meant it changes. On any given day you might be the one loving more or the one loving less. You might go months of loving more. Or years. And that’s terrifying. It means being vulnerable and out of control and scared that what is important to you can always be taken away. Fuck Corinthians, love is BRAVE.

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How Black Swan is like a cinnamon raisin bagel (no spoilers)

February 10, 2011 at 3:05 pm (if I ruled the world)

A cinnamon raisin bagel is not a bagel. Don’t argue with me on this point because you’re wrong. Bagels can have seeds, even salt, but there was never a bagel made with dried fruit. Circular cinnamon raisin bread with a hole in the middle is some strange American invention, probably from the South* where we also get *shudder* sweet tea. My ancestors did not escape Eastern European pogroms toting cinnamon or raisins with their lox, of that I am sure.

And yet still, I love a good cinnamon raisin bagel. Raisins! Cinnamon! Dough! What’s not to love? But it’s a wholly different (holey different?) animal bread product. Just like Black Swan is not a movie about ballet.

I get…unreasonably upset, shall we say? when I watch things that I know receive the bizarre gloss of Hollywood. [Aside: Like in When In Rome where the curator (after running the opening event because, right, THAT’s what they do) walks through a gallery with a cup of coffee. (Yes, I had no problem suspending disbelief for the taking-coins-out-of-a-fountain-will-make-men-obsess-over-you part, but nearly yelled at the screen over an unrealistic beverage.) End aside.] And Natalie Portman is no dancer. It’s lovely and all that she studied for a year, but it’s an insult to ballet that they let her try. Artists are sometimes bothered when someone responds to their profession by saying, “Oh! I paint a little in my spare time.” The thought being that no one would say to a surgeon, “I like to do a little angioplasty on the side.” There’s an assumption that it takes skill and years of training to cut people open whereas art just happens. Hollywood tends to treat acting like surgery and classical ballet like art. Give Queen Amidala a year to indulge her childhood dance fantasies, then wind her up and let her go! I won’t get into the technicalities, but let’s just say that in the one scene where it was clearly Natalie dancing (instead of clever CGI applied to Sarah Lane‘s skill), the illusion was dead.

It had all the formulaic elements of a dance movie (ugly feet! oooh, she’s bendy! what are they doing to those pointe shoes? competitive women! narcissistic artistic director! climactic dance sequence! eating disorders!), but it was certainly not a movie about dance. A woman who had attained the level of success that Natalie’s character had would never be unable to dance Odile for lack of passion. Technique, she would have known, is the foundation for letting go.

As a thriller, I enjoyed it quite a bit, but as a movie about dance it was a cinnamon raisin bagel.

*There is absolutely no historical evidence for this (I, um, think), but I like to make shit up.

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