Time can change anything.

10-15 years ago, if you’d asked me where I’d be on my 29th birthday, I probably would have replied in one of two ways. I would either look cast down and my eyes would water. I would have changed the subject. The other option was to respond in a false joking tone and say, “Oh, I won’t be around. I’m going to be dead before I’m that age. Promise.”

It would be easy to assume that it was just that I didn’t want to get anywhere near 30 years old, to grow older. That wasn’t the case. There was nothing more inviting than an age where I could seek my own stability. In reality, I actually did believe I’d be dead before I ever reached 29. I remember writing in my journals that I felt like no matter what happened, I’d still die before that. It was this conscious decision I had made in order to push forward long enough to, I guess, “pay my dues”.

Frida Kahlo once said “I tried to drown my sorrows but the bastards learned how to swim.” and in many ways, I did the same. I was reckless with myself and would risk a lot because I didn’t think it mattered. I didn’t think time mattered because I had decided that mine would be limited here anyway.

As life goes on, though, many things change our paths and lead us to where we’re really meant to be. Some people do make terrible decisions, some do finish themselves off before they’ve even had the chance to love, laugh, and live, and some just die tragically young. Then there are others, like me, who no matter what we tried to accomplish a task we had set so determinedly, somehow get bumped through the murky waters of life, only to end up on the other side with a lot of doubts, guilt, worries, but a new gratitude for what they’ve got.

I’m not saying that I don’t have my bad days, where I start to fade off into that dark hole again. Instead I am saying that when I head into the dark hole, I try to remember to bring a flashlight. There are some experiences that can work like that. They become a beacon of hope for people who are exhausted from the fight that they put up just to try and stay alive long enough for the next experience, taking it one day at a time.

It’s my 29th birthday. I’m not dead and I’m not expecting to be or looking towards it. Instead, I’m looking right in front of me and seeing what’s really there.

  A chance to make life fun, interesting, and sure, even a little complicated, but worth it. Life is worth it. 

 Mazel tov!

happy-birthday-from-kitty

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Music is my coffee. I’m addicted to the beat.

To start off this post, I have to share something with you all.

It’s a really awesome fact that I will listen to almost anything as long as it’s not misogynistic or hate-ridden. I may not like everything I hear, but I give it a shot, and usually most stuff sticks. I like indie music. I like some pop music. I love love love industrial and various other subculture music. I fell hard into affection with The Cure, The Pixies, Annie Lennox, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and David Bowie at a very young age. Shoot, I even have really crazy dreams about encountering musicians I admire. In one of them, I was hanging out with the Golden Girls when David Bowie walks up to us with a goat wearing a shimmering rainbow coloured scarf and heart shaped sunglasses. We hung out. David sang for us, and Sophia told us awesome made up stories about Sicily.  If you think that’s a weird dream, I won’t even mention the really fun one I had about Daniel Day Lewis. Some things are just better left to the imagination.

Point is: I am a music fetishist. Okay, maybe fetishist gives the wrong idea but I do love music. When I was a kid I had a ton of ideas of what I wanted to do when I grew up. I considered bar tending, so I could gain worldly knowledge and understanding of other human beings (as well as great stories for my future novels). I thought about being a poet. The thing that stuck out most, though, was how music made me feel. In the midst of a lot of craziness, hearing great lyrics and a strong arrangement could push me forward. When it came time to pick a major in college, there was no hesitation. I was going to be a music promoter and agent. I had it all figured out. I was going to ignore the cliche bands that the generic masses listened to and I was going to push the amazing underground bands I came across. I’d heal the worlds music wound.

 I was so full of shit. That’s okay though. We all are at some point in our lives.

I think it’s kind of obvious that I didn’t become a music promoter and agent. I wanted to do it so badly that I entered into it naively. I didn’t realize how sexist the industry was just yet. I didn’t realize that even with a ton of women in the industry, it was still an old boys club. Nor that my own music business professor would be inclined to treat the girls in his class as jokes. Pity, too. He was rather cute since he was still rather young. It incredibly diminishes a mans sexiness to treat a woman like she’s incompetent. Such a turn off.  After spending a year chasing that dream and giving it my all, I realized it wasn’t right for me. I wanted it, but I didn’t want that agony of pushing myself and working my ass off only to get pushed over by a guy who thought he’d found a new secretary.

I should have fought for it.

Realistically, I’m happy that that venture didn’t pan out. I probably would have been happy enough with that career and lifestyle but I wouldn’t have met the people that followed that lifestyle change if I hadn’t walked away. That’s not to say that I think I was right to have given it up. I gave it up for all the wrong reasons.  I gave up because I thought that I would get tired of the fight. It’s probably true that I would have but I’d have been doing it for a good reason. I would have been helpful in changing the way the music industry perceives women, particularly those who work behind the scenes.

Lately, I find myself going “What the HELL is this crap?!” at a lot of music out there. I say worse stuff about certain music videos and the way some female singers are treated (and treat themselves) while in the public eye. During those moments I sometimes stop and feel like such a hypocrite. Who am I to get annoyed at what’s being put out there when I had a chance to change that and make it into something better? Then I think “Would it really have been better if I’d tried?”. I guess we will never know. But I did let myself down because I took the easy way out. I opted for something I knew I was good at and that wouldn’t be such a struggle. I love art and history. I’m psyched about it any time I encounter a new gallery or museum, or an artist with a unique eye. I just can’t help but see it as something that comes easily to me because I didn’t have to discover it. My love of those things have been with me for as long as I can remember. Just as my love for literature.

My love of music was a discovery though. Like a first love affair with someone who could bring you up when you were in your darkest pit. I let that lover go for all the wrong reasons and just as many people ask themselves about their first loves, I ask myself about my first passion. People mistake love with passion. On a lot of levels the two look and feel the same but where love is soft, subtle, and nurturing; passion is chaotic, scrambling, sometimes dirty, and often times explosive. My discovery of music was chaotic and explosive. Particularly when I found the music that connected with me and how I felt.

So while I may not be a music promoter and agent, I can definitely say I love to share music and I’m going to.

I figure the best way to do that is here. I’m including several genres of music and in various languages. Everything from anime songs to dark and broody songs.

Enjoy the sound wealth!

(Billie Holiday’s music is eternal. No doubt about it. You just can’t argue with the reminiscent value it has. If you can argue it, you’re wrong. Simple as that.)

(I like how tribal some of the arrangement in this song is. Using unique instruments and making it sound fluid and modern is such a great method in music.)

(This song breaks my heart. It’s about a gay man whose father rejects him, and due to it being the 80’s and unawareness, he dies of aids, suffering and alone.)

(Nana was one of the first serious style shoujo animes I ever watched and a lot of the music was kind of transcendental for me.)

(This remix would get me going in the morning when I had no choice but to drag myself through the muggy hot mornings in Miami.)

(I really love what they did with Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana. It feels like a perfect fit.)

(This stuff just makes me happy. It was used in the Novela “El Clon” which was (primarily) about forbidden love but had a very fascinating core story about what happens when human beings mess with the natural course of humanity. It touched on topics like human cloning and how it affects everyone involved, being and feeling lost, addiction, family, and destructive behaviour.)

(To be honest, K-on! is a lovable guilty pleasure of mine. I like to hop between happy and serious animes. The spectrum for anime is so vast that the music is really fascinating in how it captures the spirit of each anime. Especially when it’s done well.)

 

There is so much more that I could and would share in this post but it’s already so many videos that I’ll have to save more for later.  Happy to share though!

Combining your personality with the elegance of someone you admire.

Claudette Colbert

Claudette Colbert

It’s hard, isn’t it, to combine your quirky and unique personality with elegance and grace? With certain role models, and the way the media portrays them, it is. The media portrays them as infallible, perfect, pristine. In many cases, if these role models died many years before we were aware of their existence, it’s hard to differentiate the truth from the facade. We see Audrey Hepburn as the quintessential it girl who was all grace, charm, and adorability. In a strange way, we almost liken her to the innocence of a child. That’s almost unfair to who she once was. After all, she was a grown woman when she became famous. She WAS elegant and graceful. She was charming. She was all of these things and more but we also need to see her for who she probably was in reality too. She was married. She had children. In other words she had sex. There was probably quite a bit of sensuality to her, too. She had a temper. She was spontaneous. Same goes for Claudette Colbert who was probably one of the more uproarious women in her industry at the time. She didn’t bite her tongue, she could drink and could smoke with the best of them, and she could stomp her foot and have her way any time she damned well pleased. In other words, she was a black sheep covered in soot in a time full of diamonds, but damn could that black sheep shine. Claudette radiated confidence, strength, determination. She could dress up in the finest of clothing and still carry this aura about her that said she could shoot you down in an instant if you gave her a gun and were then dumb enough to make her angry. She was definitely a tomboy nerd.

That brings me to the major part of this post. Nerds anywhere can tell you that there’s a variety of nerd classes. Like in a video game full of different races, classes, and sub classes, there is ALWAYS another layer to the nerd kingdom. I’ve had time to figure out that I don’t classify as just a nerd, and I’m not just some girl with a princess complex. In any case, I’m too complex for that. I totally did that on purpose by the way. I’m both. I love pretty things, elegance, and I love Batman, Gumby, Comic Books, X-Men, action movies, and video games.

I’m a nerd but I am (or at least try/want to be) an elegant nerd. I’ve got a Vargas Pinup girl dressed in pink on a postcard right next to one of Janine Basil’s postcards that features a pretty girl wearing one her of “Kapow” headbands. I make steampunk jewelry because I love quirky things and I collect plushies because they’re adorable.

Don’t take my word for it though. Look at the many examples around us of how nerdy meets elegance. Actresses like Kat Dennings, Zooey Deschanel, Pauley Perrette, and Felicia Day. Consider the cosplayers who don’t fall into the sloppy, slutty, or even crude categories. Factor in the history and the very definition of “nerd”. Why can’t a nerd be someone who is passionate about elegance too?

Take Pauley Perrette as an example. Here she is in her typical Abby (from NCIS) garb. Keep in mind that she actually dresses like this on a regular basis in real life as well.

ImageShe’s definitely goth rock, punky, nerdy, and absolutely awesome in every way you can think of. In fact, Abby is love, and if you don’t know that, I feel sad for you but that’s okay because you’re awesome anyway. Pauley is love too. I guess she has to be since they’re the same person.

Point is, she’s still elegant. She doesn’t look sloppy even when she is wearing all black, and combat boots. Her clothes are clean, she smiles, and she encourages the people around her. She has confidence in herself but doesn’t put others down. These are all amazing things that any elegant person should have. Oh, and that whole expectation that being goth means you always have to fit into the “goth” mold? Bull. I happen to also be a goth. I just don’t need to advertise it in some form of rebellion against society. I’m cool with who I am inside and while sometimes I waver and falter on who I am on the outside, and worry about how I’m perceived, I know without a doubt what I really enjoy in life and who I am. That brings me to another image of Pauley. This time dressed for an event in Hollywoodlandia. Yeah, I make names up too, and I like it that way.

Pauley a la glam

She sparkles, she shines, she’s Pauley. She just isn’t in the same clothes people usually expect her in. Does that mean she’s lost her identity just because she changed clothes? I’m guessing not, since she’s still smiling and excited in the picture. I’m also guessing not because while she has adapted her wardrobe for a more appropriate ensemble for this event, she keeps a few key pieces that retain their rocker essence. The cuff, the smokey makeup, the jet black hair, even the front zipper (a usually no-no thing at gala events), all radiate this feeling of unique amongst a sea of similar dresses and styles.

It’s not a matter of how much you spend, or how true to your roots or style you are. It’s a matter of being as true to yourself as you can possibly be. If you like something cute, go for it. If you like something dark and broody, go for it too. Eventually you’ll figure out exactly how much of each you want to pour into any outfit. Especially since there are ALWAYS days when you’ll want to be a bit more sparkly than dark and vice versa. All you have to keep in mind that the keys to elegance are a smile, a kind heart, a tiny bit of effort to keep things clean and well kept, and these words each morning when you look in the mirror.

“I can’t control what happens around me today, but I can always control how I react to it. No one can take that away from me.”

Since we’re on the topic of roles and personality, what about cosplays? If you browse the net, it’s easy to assume that most female cosplay features women who look sloppy, tacky, or almost obscene from just how much flesh seems to pour out at all the wrong spots in their outfit. That’s not always the case though. There are tons of awesome cosplays which don’t turn a girl into a horrifying colorblast or into a stripper on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Nope. There are elegant cosplays out there and they feature some fantastic characters. This one is featuring the lead couple from Paradise Kiss. Keep in mind that very rarely do human beings ACTUALLY LOOK like any of the characters in an anime. It’s almost unheard of. That doesn’t mean that just because you don’t look like them, you get a free pass to slap together anything that’s sloppy or tacky. It’s not about the character. It’s about how you perceive yourself too. If you throw on whatever and look sloppy, then what does that say about how YOU feel? Even if it weren’t that you felt bad about yourself, the lack of effort makes it seem so, and you just won’t have as much fun. Make the effort because the experience will be that much more enhanced for you. The memory will be one of the best and not just “good”. These guys made an amazing effort and pulled off the attire really well. It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t have to be, but it’s clean and well executed.

If you’re thinking that this must have cost them a fortune, then it could be that you’re right. It could be that you’re not. Either way, money doesn’t have to be the main factor in your cosplay. Quality is. If you don’t have a huge budget to blow on a pre-made costume and lack the skill to make one yourself, consider great characters who don’t have as elaborate an outfit but still make an impression, like Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck from Bleach. Now, I’m not a Bleach fan (I know, I know. Sorry. Not really sorry though.) but I do think this is one of the best ways to pull off this character on a slight budget. 

I couldn’t find this girls name anywhere, but if anyone knows who she is, feel free to let me know so I may credit her for the image. I’d also like to tell her she’s makes a fantastic Nelliel. So as you can see, it doesn’t take a fortune, and it doesn’t take you being Asian to pull these off. It takes intention, delivery, and the effort between the two.

Now, not all nerdy people appear nerdy. Not all are into the goth scene or into cosplay. Some may not even care about action figures or comics (okay, most do, but not all). Otaku is a term considered derogatory in Japan, to describe someone so incredibly obsessed with a particular subject or subculture, that they renege all efforts of living a normal life. Amongst anime fans, it’s sometimes a badge of pride. In North America, however, the term nerd was viewed very similarly until more recent times, and in very subtle ways we began to notice that even people who didn’t appear nerdy, could have a nerdy aesthetic to them.

Kat Dennings and Zooey Deschanel can usually fit this category. They both are kind of tomboyish and from what the media would have us know about them, apparently they both like comics and things like that. They don’t seem like they belong in the nerd category though, and that’s okay. Even nerdy people and quirky people have the right to be pretty. It’s obnoxious to think otherwise. That would be like saying that someone who is considered unattractive has to be completely excluded from the entertainment industry because it’s for “pretty people”. Hello, calling Steve Buscemi! Many find him unattractive but, personally, I think he’s the cats meow because of his confidence, his effort, his courage to stand on stage or in front of a camera to take a hit. That marks a gentleman, and being a gentleman is an elegance in and of itself.

As far as I’m concerned these two ladies are nerds and are gorgeous. If you think dressing like them is impossible, then think again. With companies like Modcloth and with thrift shops, it’s very possible to pull off their retro looks that they seem to have effortlessly. Here’s a secret: It’s not effortless. They have a team of people who help them get ready for photoshoots and big events. I bet you already knew that though. You can achieve their styles with a twist of your own and still be as elegant.

 kat dennings zooey deschanel

If you’re a full on nerd who loves quirk and uniqueness, but do want to incorporate more elegance into your daily wear, these aren’t a bad way to start. Your accessories can amp up the quirk, simply by adding an element of the unexpected.

   7095_sap_retro_full 8187_ash_rainbow_full2 8333_sha_8bitearrings_full68408_sha_clock_fullshanalogic sloth 8487_sha_mosaicred_full21055_ukiyo_blossom_full  9053_cla_penguin_fullshanalogic dino earring set shanalogic dragons egg  shanalogic northern lights ring shanalogic nyan

These are all really quirky and adorable pieces that would go well with some of the more recent fun clothing that the actresses mentioned above are wearing. I could see Claudette Colbert wearing the northern lights ring from shanalogic (second to last image), since it has that quirky ethereal vibe to it. Some of these pieces suit Pauley Perrettes style while others suit Kat Dennings or Zooey Deschanel, and some ore just quirky and fun that can appeal to a variety of outfits while being simple enough to not detract from an outfits elegance. It’s all in how you work them into your wardrobe, and more importantly, how you work them into your confidence. As a human being you have value. As a person you have rights. As an individual, there are many things that can define you and there should be no shame in the way you carry yourself. As long as you harm no one and don’t knock yourself down, then embrace yourself and your quirks. Tattoos are neat. Just be smart about them. Quirky earrings are fun, just wear them however you want. Mix and match even. Who is to say that what you’ve chosen isn’t “the right way to wear this or that”? Just carry yourself with grace, confidence, and remember that no one can tear you down unless you let them, and you’ll be fine. Treat others with kindness and be genuine about it. If you don’t like someone, then just don’t harm them. No need to pretend to be besties. Just be honest without being cruel. Wish them well, move on, and live your life. These things exude grace. The rest of your actions are just an accessory to your inner person, but they do add to who you are. Same as an accessory adds to an outfit.

                                                 zooey-deschanel-in-pink-wallpaper

 When I consider the most defining elegant nerdy girl, I see Felicia Day. She’s kind, hard working, quirky, and doesn’t try too hard. Her awkwardness is even graceful in a way.

Felicia+Day+24th+Annual+Producers+Guild+Awards+BvpZ2fP4fkhx

 There are probably tons of women like this, and just as many men who are nerdy gentlemen. We all probably have completely different ideas of what fits into the nerd category and just as many different ideas for gentlemanliness or elegance. These are just my own, and while the focus is on womens attire on the surface, the message that I feel is most important is the effort to be kind. Not just to others but to yourself as well. Give yourself the best chance for happiness. Give yourself the best chances for success. Your OWN idea of success, too, not someone elses. Define yourself, for your own sake and not for the sake of others.

As for the curvier girls, like myself, keep in mind that your curves are a part of you. Don’t shun them. Don’t let anyone define you by them either. Kat Dennings, Christina Hendricks, and Octavia Spencer are all curvy girls who are also topheavy. That has not changed their kindness or their ability to function in society. It has not diminished their worth as people or artists. In our case, the nerdy case, we may not fit the ideal image that most guys have from watching movies or playing video games where the girls are completely different than us, but we have worth. We are real. We exist beyond a screen and that gives us value. Don’t ever doubt that. If you also wonder about clothing, don’t doubt that it’s out there. If these women can find it then so can we.

 elle-008-women-in-hollywood-red-carpet-looks-octavia-spencer-xln-lgn Pencil-Skirts-for-Plus-Sizes

It all begins with effort, and once the initial effort is made, a lot of it becomes effortless.

Elegance = Effort + (Kindness)2 x Confidence

In other words, elegance is effort and kindness towards others and ourselves multiplied by confidence. It becomes easier to be kind the more you do it. It becomes addictive. Effort becomes easy once you get the ball rolling, and you gain confidence as you do these things. With that confidence you gain energy to do it even more, and just like that you’ve begun a very healthy cycle in your life.