– Woody Allen
Holidays in America always seem to rub me the wrong way; the decadence and delight of celebrating and spending time with close friends and family is grossly overshadowed by corporate greed, consumerism and the want for material objects. Not to say that I don’t love me a stellar present or two (who doesn’t love getting gifted?!) but to me the holidays are about presence – not presents.
Over the last 28 years, I’ve been given a lot of amazing gifts but the ones that stick with me are heartfelt and have nothing to do with physical, tangible things like the richness of having family time in a distant city and the comfort of their unconditional love. Unfortunately for myself – and my kitties – I rarely get to spend the holidays with them. And of every one I deal with on a day to day basis, they give the most. They’re around when I’ve had the best day ever and they comfort me when I’m sad; they talk to me when I’m stir crazy and working from home and cuddle me when I’m having a movie marathon. More or less, they’re what keeps me sane and sweet day in and day out – so, this year I’ve decided to pay the love forward. I found a great cause that I love and I cannot wait to bring some cheer to others.
There’s a crazy statistic right now that the 8,000 or so feral cats in Los Angeles could grow to 60,000 within the next 18 months if we don’t do something about it. The Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats is an amazing organization devoted to educating the community about the risks of feral cats, developing a stellar Trap–Neuter–Release program and –my favorite– socializing feral cats to the point that they’re adoptable.
Before I left for Thanksgiving break, I had orientation with a group of fellow feline fanciers. A the beginning of the orientation there was a roundtable discussion on why we wanted to join the Bungalow and I’ll forever stick by my statement: Raising my cats has been a thrilling experience and I’m so lucky to have two loving, cuddlebugs by my side on the daily – Kitty Bungalow gives me the chance to take that love and pay it forward. And let’s get real for a second, from one crazy cat lady to her followers it’s so effing awesome being around other cat people! Shawn, the lovely headmistress, showed us the ropes of the Bungalow and introduced us to some of the most adorable kittens I have ever seen and to boot there was one that was only 10 days old (and, as a side note, I’m pretty sure it’s going to take all my will power to not adopt more cats.)
Nothing makes me feel quite as good about receiving a present than when I’m giving back and I think its a wonderful way to enter the holiday season. If you’re looking to get in on the volunteer action and don’t know where to start, give Volunteer Match a go – you can search metros, zip codes and keywords; perfect if you don’t know where to start! Or, if you’d like to contribute to the kitties, the wonderful people over at GOOD are having a challenge to improve the lives of animals; our suggestion is for an animal transport and outreach vehicle, help us climb to the top of the voting charts here!
There is no season in all the year so beautiful, so radiant with glory, as the early autumn. There is no time when the human soul drinks in so fully the glory and beauty of nature. All objects of beauty are more beautiful while passing away from us. The closing up of a beautiful life—the fading of the holy stars in the dim light of morning—the ending of a quiet summer day and the passing away of the bright summer glory, are all more sweet and lovely as they are lost to us. The death-glow always beautifies anything that wears the trace of beauty ere it goes back to nothingness. We do not understand the secret of this principle, yet we know that it is some law of the infinite mind.
I have way too many guilty pleasures; honestly, at times it seems like I just can’t help it! Lately – and in no particular order – they’ve been: sparkly jewelery, suede riding boots, skinny pants in rich colors, pristine white t-shirts, one of a kind gaudy purses and music. When I was driving back home last week for Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to go through my old CD collection; and when I say “collection” – I mean it. There were some that dated back as far as middle school and freshman year of high school – and then through college and up to my years in Los Angeles. What was supposed to be a cathartic six hour drive back to San Francisco turned into an assorted hodgepodge of the highlights of my childhood; what it drove home was how my brain and my ears evolved from loving the dirty basslines of old school hip-hop and gangsta’ rap, the soul soothing vibrations of the kick drum and the acoustic guitar and the effortless angelic vocals within folk rock. For the longest time, I thought all of this had been lost on me – but now I realize that it’s been here all along, hiding in plain sight. It’s in the timbre of drum and bass, the ephemeral qualities of vocal trance and the harmonic dissonance of dubstep and tech house. But, no matter how I spin it, my heart will always and forever be in the hands of trance.
During the work week there are so many trance podcasts to pay attention to that it’s hard knowing just which one to listen to – I’ve bounced around from Ferry Corsten, Tiesto, Armin van Buuren and Max Graham – all equally talented, and offering something totally different than the others. Lately, though, Above and Beyond have been pulling me back into their grasp – especially their Trance Around the World show from India. In my opinion, they have some of the best, brightest and talented musicians on their label – and it shows in both their live shows and in the production quality of the hit-after-hit singles they release. Above & Beyond’s latest show was in India, where they celebrated the 450th Episode of Trance Around the World with some of their favorite DJs. So turn your volume up, tune the world out and get ready for a musical journey…
If you ever get the chance to meet my family, you’ll realize that this apple didn’t fall too far from their trees: at 6 feet tall, I managed to inherit their collective heights of 5’10 and 6’6; I have an insatiable appetite for reading and science fiction that they both possess; my quest for patterns in numbers and numbers in patterns reveals an instinctual inclination towards math that runs through to my Grandfather, a math professor at OSU who was fluent in over seven languages. But there’s a few things that my family will never, ever understand about me – like my obsession for all that sparkles, glitters, flashes and accentuates. It’s like their uber logical brains can’t wrap their heads around my draw to the creativity within fashion and beauty. All things considered, I find certain mathematical and chemical equations quite beautiful and I know for a fact they agree – but do they understand why I was so excited to inherit my mom’s Chanel Blush in Red Fire* , a spankin’ new stellar hair straightener, skinny jeans that fit my legs just right or that uber glittery nail polish from O.P.I.? Not so much.
As luck would have it for my parents, I was an only child…but my friends all had older siblings. Some of them taught us swear words, which leading to rousing games of “Fuck, Fuck, You” instead of “Duck, Duck, Goose” as an elementary school student. A few, unknowingly mind you, had their issues of Playboy swiped by friends who in turn educated the rest of us on all things sexual. Others were hoping to become competitive athletes – so they started shaving their arms and legs to cut down on water resistance; in monkeysee, monkeydo fashion we followed suit. And last but definitely not least, some were wearing makeup and caring about their clothes. But then, two things happened that put a damper on my fashion sense: Instead of going to the public middle school like my friends, I chose to attend an all girls school and my mother, Queen** of Disapproval, put her foot down and a lid on my makeup use – the most common reasons cited were my age, 12, and…well, my age.
The one and only arena I was allowed to have some fun and creativity with: my nails. I would swoon over nail polish like it were a delectable evening gown at an awards show; and truth be told, I still do. There are sultry, deep purples that remind me of Autumn and bold, neon colors that pop like Spring. By the time I was back in a public high school as a Junior, I got a little more into fashion and makeup and more or less forgot about my nail polish. As I left for college, I finally noticed myself evolving into a young woman – and my makeup drawer and closet echoed that sentiment. For my first few years in LA, I was lucky enough to land a gig as a beauty blogger for almost a year – I’ve dabbled in all the great, and not so great, brands and have developed some tried and true relationships with certain products. I’ve always thought that if makeup were considered paint, more women would be considered artists – but now that I’ve become an expert within my own right I know this to be true. Makeup, hair, nails and fashion are projections – extensions of ourselves as women; whether it’s a desire to become someone else for a night, or to cut and color our hair to the point that someone thinks there’s an odd looking doppelganger on the loose, we use these things as creative outlets, and I love it. The irony of my situation now is working in a fairly corporate atmosphere, the only creative beauty outlet I have during the day is – once again – my nails.
Well, every now and again, I get stuck in a beauty blunder. And I obviously can’t reach out to my mom or step-mother about these things, so thank goodness for the interwebs! I have a ridiculous obsession with glitter – glitter in my eyeliner, glitter in my hair, glitter on my tank tops, and glitter on my nails. It’s an awesome look to rock, but it has an obnoxious flip-side of being beyond difficult to take off. Well, have no fear – because I have an easy, breezy DIY method that involves very little rubbing, scrubbing or headaches.
- Cotton Balls
- Aluminum Foil
- Nail Polish Remover
- Tear off a piece of aluminum foil; from that piece rip up five 3″ x 2″ pieces
- Soak cotton balls briefly in nail polish remover and place on top of glitter adorned nail
- Wrap aluminum foil tightly around your finger and the cotton ball
- Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes
- Twist from side to side and slide off!
Voila! Glitter free nails =)
A few takeaways – first, yeah, your hands look a little Freddy Kruger-esque and silly, but I bet you look sillier spending minutes scrubbing down the glitter off just one nail – so keep that in mind. Secondly, doing hands one at a time can go a long way – you’re free to do small tasks that involve lifting, twisting and typing – and you can reuse the aluminum finger holders, too. Last but definitely not least, I really wish I knew about this trick sooner – I’m already saving tons of time and energy!
*it’s been discontinued
**Self-appointed Queen, mind you
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy –
One of the highlights of my trip to Arkansas was visiting the fabulous Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. According to my coworkers in Arkansas, there was an uproar in the art community when the facility was built – housing works from Pollock, Lichtenstein, Warhol and Rockwell, many people from dense metropolitan areas were up in arms that a small town in the south would be graced with these wonderful collections. I think that’s absolutely ridiculous! I don’t think there is a single person that doesn’t appreciate art and culture within their own scope, and to think it’s appropriate to deny these works to any part of our population is insane. Before my trip, I didn’t have a rhyme or reason to want to be in the south – but between the hospitality and warmth of the people, the beauty of the silence and the seasons, the effing amazing food and the art and culture, I wouldn’t mind going back!
These are some of the highlights from my trip to Crystal Bridges, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!