22 August 2014

But The Film Is A Saddening Bore, 'Cause She's Lived It Ten Times Or More

I've been thinking a lot on the subject of how we judge other people based on their choices in fashion after my recent Bustle experiment, which I will talk about more on here sometime in the near future. Specifically, though, I've been thinking about what my choices in fashion say about me... or what I'd like them to say. And the thing is, I don't know.
In recent years, I've gravitated a lot toward vintage styles -- cuts and silhouettes that rose to popularity in the 40's through the 60's, especially. I love dresses most of all, and always have (I actually used to refuse to wear pants as a kid). I guess things I'd like my clothes to represent are my passions. Passions for things of the past, maybe. Folk music. Old films. Literature of the Beat Generation through to Don DeLillo. It was through these things that I inadvertently discovered a lot of older styles, so I think my main goal in how I dress is simply to portray my interests.
That being said, I fluctuate loads between my preference for flowing dresses and form-fitting bodycons. For a while, I preferred the latter because such dresses really highlight your curves, instead of hiding them away. But as of late, I seem to be choosing looser-fitting clothes because of their comfort. I don't know if this is just a part of getting older, but I just love knowing that a flowy dress will assure your comfort through the day.
My younger brother made a joke when he saw me in this particular dress that I looked "vast like open space." He's only fourteen and likes to poke fun (it's innocent enough) at my weight. And I know I do look larger than I would in something a little more silhouette-enhancing. But that's ok. Because I absolutely love the dress, and I love my chunky bits, too.

When I saw this space-print piece on ModCloth, I knew I wanted it. The universe is big and scary and mystical and holds so much knowledge we've yet to even begin to comprehend. But I've always been fascinated with ideas of space travel, of life on other planets, and on inter-species relations (providing things ever reach that point). I love Star Trek and think Gene Roddenberry was a genius. And I'm pretty pumped (a result of hearing Patrick talk incessantly about it) for J.J. Abram's Episode XII of Star Wars. So... yeah. I wanted the dress. And it's been quite wonderful having it!

P.S. ModCloth is having an amazing sale, up to 70% off. For any U.K. or international readers who avoid MC because of border charges, now might be the time to do some shopping.

Get the Look:
You're Out of this World Dress/ModCloth
ASOS Molly T-Bar Flat Shoes/ASOS


Nerdsville Book Club: July Edition - Too Loud A Solitude By Bohumil Hrabal

In the spring of 2012, I spent a semester of N.Y.U. studying in the Czech Republic. It was a bit of an emotional whirlwind -- an inevitability, I think, when living in a post-Soviet country. Though so much of the nation's history (and recent history, at that) is rooted in darkness and war, what I found most fascinating was the art and literature that managed to thrive underground in the decades leading to the Velvet Revolution. One of our professors was Jan Machacek, a member of the rock band The Plastic People of the Universe, primarily active from 1968-1989. They were intrinsically linked with the Velvet Revolution, and protested non-violently but passionately for the end to Communism in Czechoslovakia. Jan even introduced us to David Černý, the sculptor deemed a "hooligan" for his empowering and political work.

Suffice it to say, that was my favorite class. As Černý spoke to us about drugs as inspiration, his love for weed, his terrifying tower babies and Sigmund Freud hanging by one hand, I remember him citing Bohumil Hrabal as one of the greatest and most profoundly influential Czech authors of all time, but it's taken me until now to pick up his literature. In this case, the short story (or novella) Too Loud a Solitude, which he self-published in 1976 due to the censorship and book banning of the era. This was Isha's choice for our July reading, and so I had an inkling that it was going to be a good one.
From the first page of the novella, I knew this was going to be a story I resonated with deeply. The protagonist and sort-of-ironic-but-no-less-wonderful-hero of our tale, Haňt’a, works in wastepaper as a compactor of books. His occupation is to destroy the literature that the government feared and wanted to kill off, including the writings of Kant, Schiller, Nietzsche, Milton, and many other's whom produced revolutionary and brilliant texts, be they Paradise Lost or The Birth of TragedyHaňt’a tells us, "I can't quite tell which of my thoughts come from me and which from my books," and I immediately want to hug this imaginary man and tell him, thank you. Because this is something I have struggled with my entire life. 

In a way, this novella is a more grounded version of Fahrenheit 451 by American author Ray Bradbury, which was published years before in 1953. Where Fahrenheit seems more a dystopian tale, serving as a general warning for the consequences of book burning, but even more so, of a total movement against education and knowledge, Too Loud a Solitude is deeply dependent on the time it is being written and the nation of its origin. It holds within its 98 pages themes relevant to the Romani people of Czechoslovakia -- the oppressed that we so often forget about when discussing World War II and the years thereafter. It has themes relevant to power struggle. To classism. To love and loss and failure and war and pain.

Haňt’a repeatedly tells us, "Neither the heavens are humane nor is any man with a head on his shoulders," and you cannot help but feel he is right. Whether in his relationship with a Gypsy woman who is ultimately captured by the Gestapo, his memories of his first love, whose life is ruled by public mockery, or his metaphors of the rat wars going on in Prague's sewers -- the white and the brown rats competing for... maybe just survival... we get the feeling the over-arching message in the text is the loss of humanity. And the ease with which we harm, kill and destroy not just the objects around us (books, in this case), but the humans around us. Or at least, that's what it felt like to me.

Haňt’a has landed his occupation of thirty-five years because those in control see him as an "idiot" and a hermit. Definitely not as a threat. But unbeknownst to them, he has been collecting books, taking them home and learning from their inner-workings. The novella ends around the time that we are introduced to a new piece of technology -- a machine that will be able to destroy books by the dozens. While I won't reveal the ending, I will say that I cannot help but take this as a final warning. And one that highlights the risks that come with technology and the lack of knowledge it can (sometimes, inadvertently) breed.

My generation and those younger than me have sort of forgotten how to speak to one another. We have forgotten how anything actually works, because we don't need to know. We pick up an iPhone and know how to use it because we have always had technology at our disposals. And today's kids and teens even more so. But (and bear with me in this pessimistic rambling), what happens when a major global catastrophe occurs, be it an apocalypse or a dystopian future? What happens when everything is destroyed, and we have to start from scratch? No one will know how to actually build anything, save an older generation who may not have survived the apocalypse in question. No one will know the knowledge behind it. Because we all simply use things, bearing no mind for how they work or why they work. And no one will know how to interact, because for most of our lives we've used texting and everything from MySpace to Instagram to convey our feelings. I'm guilty of these things as much as the next person. But I do worry. And I think maybe Bohumil Hrabal worried, too.

Please check out reviews and commentary by Isha and Charlotte, too. They each have something totally different to say. Which just goes to show how unique and individual an experience reading actually is.

15 August 2014

Y El Cadáver Del Minuto Que Paso, Me Dice Así Se Vive Aquí Te Guste O No

I think no matter where I am -- no matter how wonderful my "now" might be -- I will always miss Spain. The months I lived in Madrid were unlike any other time in my life. I found myself discovering happiness, friendship and love. Love for myself; love for other people. I felt connected to my Colombian roots, despite being on the opposite side of the ocean. I learned to step out of my shell enough to talk to people who fascinated me and helped change my outlook on so many things that always held me back. I'll always be shy -- an introvert. But in Spain I left my bubble just enough to enjoy myself properly for the first time... possibly ever.
I was drawn to this amazing gypsy top from New Look because it reminded me of summer nights strolling through Plaza del Sol. Or long walks on the beach in Barcelona. It took me back to the arid yet sweet smell in the air the day I skipped classes to spend the afternoon at a cafe bar, where I met my now partner of three years. I have been wanting to try New Look since moving to the UK, and am so happy I did. Though this top is from their main range as opposed to their plus collection (Inspire), its wonderful, flowy nature means it runs large. I'm wearing a UK 14 (US 10), which would normally be way small. And I still have enough room to tie it and play around with the look.
These photos were taken at an old badminton court in Cragg Vale, the village outside Hebden Bridge where our home is. I didn't even know the magical colonnade existed, let alone that it was all of a 10 minute walk from home. We know, though, that it was part of Old Cragg Hall (completed in 1907). The manor itself was burnt down in 1921, but the bits that remain are still absolutely enchanting.
I paired the top with my favorite jeans -- a classic, black, high-waisted pair from ASOS Curve that I feel adds the hint of vintage I always need in my clothes. I have had these since January, and have worn and washed them relentlessly. Yet they still look and feel as wonderful as the day I got them in the post.
As for the epic lizard hair clips I am wearing, they were a gift from the amazing Natalya of ToySyndrome. I fell in love with her use of plastic children's toys in fashion and will be featuring some of my favorite products on here soon. She was kind enough to send me some accessories, and I have been wearing them non-stop. I love childishness in fashion, so ToySyndrome is a dream come true.

Get the Look:
Multicolored African Print Gypsy Top, $22, NewLook
ASOS Curve Skinny Jean with Ultra High Waist, $58, ASOS
Oxford Kitten Heels (Similar), $110, Zappos
Lizard Hair Clips, Courtesy of ToySyndrome


14 August 2014

You're Only Given One Little Spark Of Madness. You Mustn't Lose It

I don't think any celebrity's death has affected me as much as that of Robin Williams. By now, you have all heard. Maybe some of you have shed a tear. Others Netflix-ed all of your favorite films starring the man who has made us all laugh for decades. Who made our parents and grandparents laugh with us. If you're in your 20's, it's possible that some of the first films you remember watching starred Williams himself. For me, they are Jumanji (1995) and Jack (1996). Even as a kid, what struck me about his films was that despite being comedies, often meant to inspire children, there was always something far more profound going on. Jack is nothing short of hysterical, but it also teaches us to seize every single moment we have on this planet, even in the times everything seems mostly bad. Even if things seem mostly bad more often than not.

As I got older and saw The Birdcage, Bicentennial Man and Dead Poets Society, I realized Robin Williams wasn't just another funny guy. He seemed to be The Little Prince himself, with his innocent eyes and that smile that could create instant comfort and really make you think about the universe and your place in it. When Zelda Williams shared a quote via social media from Antoine de Saint Exupery's novella in tribute to her father, I wasn't surprised.
"You... you alone will have the stars as no one else has them. In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night. You, only you, will have stars that can laugh."  
Something we hear more often than not is that suicide is an act of cowardice. I cannot express how fundamentally wrong I believe that statement to be. Knowing you are about to end your place in this world, leaving those you love behind... that isn't an "easy" choice to make. It takes a certain kind of bravery that most of us cannot and will not ever fathom. Williams's characters all demonstrated bravery, and that bravery became something I associated the actor with for my entire life. His final choices are no different.

It might seem odd that I would choose to post outfit photos amidst all this, but the reason I was drawn to this Neverland dress by Pinup Girl Clothing is because Hook was my absolute favorite movie when I was a kid. It was beautifully made, beautifully acted and will always be a glimmer of hope and fun and innocence when things seem otherwise bleak and grim.

This dress is a 2XL, one size larger than I usually wear. I definitely recommend checking out the size chart and consider sizing up as items tend to run small. 

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