Friday, September 28, 2012

The Perks of Meeting Chbosky

Eleven years ago seems like a lifetime ago. I was a sophomore in high school and my favorite subject was English. My favorite English teacher recommended we read this book called "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by a man named Stephen Chbosky.I read it so fast and I loved the book so much. I remember reading a few pages over and over again because they made so much sense and seemed to describe exactly what I had felt.The book was about being a teenager and not ever feeling quite like anyone would understand you; that fear of perhaps never really fitting in that is so common among so many. 

Thinking about this book makes me think of where I was 11 years ago and how truly awkward and painful it all was. I had the worst boyfriend. He was never nice to me. And in the novel when Chbosky writes "we accept the love we think we deserve" it makes me sick to think that I put myself in such a place. I didn't really have a sense of style. I tried to be so many things: a little punk, a little classy, a little surfer/skater, but really I didn't have the money to dress in any of the ways I wanted. In all honesty, it was my English classes that made high school better for me. It was there that I got to read great books, write a lot, found teachers who understood me, and it was the classes in which I was most respected by my peers. It was the one place throughout high school where I felt I fit in; I felt safe.

Books began saving my life at a young age. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I had never met a professional one until Ms. Siegel (our English teacher) invited Mr. Chbosky to come to speak to us. To this day, I cannot believe he not only accepted the invitation, but when he came to the library to talk to all of us, he was so pleasant and kind. I remember him answering lots of questions from us. I must have raised my hand at least five times. When I took my copy of his book up to be signed, I told him I wanted to be a real writer.

The next day my English teacher pulled me aside and gave me a copy of "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway. She explained that Mr. Chbosky had purchased the book for me and left something special inside. Along with this beautiful note was his email address. That moment is still one of the best in my life.

"And in that moment, I swear we were infinite."

I emailed Mr. Chbosky a few weeks later and really poured my heart out to him. And to my even greater surprise, he answered me back. I looked through my old emails today, and sadly, was unable to find the correspondence or his email address. I remember telling him I felt like "the world had turned and left me."

Someone asked him 11 years ago about making the book into a movie. The occasion of this post is that Mr. Chbosky has written and directed the film adaptation and it's in theaters now. I cannot wait to see it, but I am thinking I may need to re-read the book first.

And re-reading "Perks" kind of scares me. It has been so long since I revisited this time in my life, those teenage years with all that raw pain. I misplaced all that hurt and anger and hope. And I wonder if I re-read this book, if it will cause me to see things differently, which I don't want. I always want to remember the freshness of that first time when words hit you and you know the world has in fact not left you, but rather its given you someone else who understands. I am not sure how many times in the past 11 years I have felt infinite or heard "Landslide" play. I am embarrassed to admit just how many bad boyfriends I have had and how few books I have had published. I wonder sometimes if I have let Mr. Chbosky or maybe even my 16-year old self down. I'm not sure if I'm the writer who I thought I would be. I would never have guessed that I'd be where I am now, editing magazines and not writing books to be placed on shelves.

Mr. Chbosky, if you happen to read this, please know that you changed my life that day. You've given me the greatest charge one writer can give to another: to find their voice and to share it. I've been trying to do that here and in some of the publications I've worked on. I have read "The Sun Also Rises" three times and I can still quote my favorite passage from it. I still have only read "Perks" once but I will never ever forget what it means to feel infinite. You and my Ms. Siegel have made all the difference in my life. And I shudder to think what would have happened had you not gone to speak to a group of kids that one day so many years ago. One of my favorite college professors told me that "Writing saves lives, not bodies." Thank you for saving me, so long ago. I hope in the years to come I make you proud. I hope I too can save a life.

I used to want to be a high school English teacher so I could help kids. That was my plan; and then I would write in the summers. It's funny the paths life leads us down. It feels so strange to remember all those places, feelings, and things that now seem so foreign. And while I forget so much, the words always remain. I have since devoted my life to words, and I hope to keep doing so until my last breath. I have figured out not only my style, but perhaps dwelt too much on it. I have grown to learn much from the pain and hardships of my youth; to channel them into good writing and into being kind to others; encouraging people every chance I get. I don't read as much as I used to, but I am able to get a few pages in daily. I am finally at peace with so much I was uneasy with 11 years ago. Most importantly, I have accepted the love I know I deserve; and that acceptance has set me free. But I'm not sure I have read a book since Mr. Chbosky's that stings with such truth. And I'm not sure if I've written anything in the same manner, or if I ever will. But the perks of revisiting this point in time is that it fills me with that sense of hope that is so alive when you are 16 and the world and your whole life are ahead of you. While I'm not sure if the movie will be able to measure up to the book, I am so pleased to see that question from 11 years ago being answered and to see a new age of kids read this story. Thank you Mr. Chbosky for reminding me what it feels like to let go, to be hopeful, to remember the great words I have read and all the dreams I have dreamt.I am infinitely grateful.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fashion Sense (of Humor)

What I wear to work ... I wish

I have a drinking problem

Who cares if the food is good?

Traveling lightly

What a girl has to do to check her lipstick

The diet starts tomorrow

House arrest isn't so bad ...

Gardening garb

Hoop la

I've got nothing to wear

Dorothy goes vamp

I need the life that goes with this sweater

What I wear to the market

My favorite thing about Pinterest is the fashion feed. Sure, a good looking dessert is always nice to stare at, but there is no motivation like looking at beautiful clothes, shoes and jewelry. I love the over-dramatized shots and started noticing that some of them have really funny captions. I'm in a lighthearted mood, so I thought I'd share a few with you. I think I will start being more witty with my pinning.

Enjoy : )

Monday, September 24, 2012

Season to Celebrate

 This past weekend was a lighthearted one. Lots of celebrating going on, and I was so blessed to be a part of so many gatherings.

Friday was the birthday of these 3 beagles. While I love my cats, my boyfriend is a dog person, and these 3 are just so adorable. We had to stop at Petsmart and get them a Pup Pie. Funny story: the father beagle actually ended up stealing half of the pie off the counter. At least the birthday beagles (Cleo, Monster & Blinker) each got a piece before it was gone.

Saturday I attended a wedding in San Diego. Ceremony at Balboa Park and reception at Luce Loft. We enjoyed playing dress up for the photo booth (I masqueraded as Darth Vader and my friend Mike as President Obama -- HAHA). The centerpieces were cactus and the wine was Tempranillo.

Sunday we all enjoyed a group brunch at Angelo's & Vinci's. I was so happy to spend the weekend with those friends who are so close, we are like family. I love it when there's a great coming together for love, for food, good wine, and occasionally, a beloved pet (or 3).

Here's hoping these blessings continue into the coming week : )

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Feathered Friends

The next issue of Altered Couture will have a feathered dress on the cover. I am actually really liking the idea of a feathered frock. And it seems like feathers are popping up everywhere. I am so glad this trend is taking flight! I found some of my favorites and decided to share them here. More on Pinterest, of course. I prefer the fuller look of the ostrich feather. The only thing about wearing feathers is that they can shed a bit, so the clothing is super delicate and likewise, super expensive. These finds will require some savings. I already purchased a couple though -- what can I say, they make my heart flutter!

Fascinator by Batcakes Couture
Dress by Alexander McQueen
Dress by J Crew
The inspiration that started it all (in my opinion), Carrie Bradshaw's wedding look
Dress by Michael Kors
Dress by Jay Ahr
Dress by Milly
Dress by BluGirl
Strapless dresses from ASOS
Blue and white feather purses from Kate Spade
Dress by Erin Fetherston
 Blazer by Elizabeth and James
Headband by Tasha
Skirt by Zara
Clutch by Alexander McQueen
Skirt by Kate Spade

Monday, September 17, 2012

When the Lights Go Out in the City

Vacation is something you plan (maybe for months or maybe just a few days in advance). Vacation is an escape.

My best friend and I had planned our Vegas trip to celebrate his mom's 50th birthday for months. We counted down the days, saved money and time off, and were beyond ready to cash it all in come Thursday. We spent a great night at Ri Ra, the Burger Bar, the Pub and walking down the Strip before staying in our wonderful hotel, The Golden Nugget.

But in this life it is a common lesson learned that things never quite go as planned. While poolside on our first full day of vacation, my friend got one of those calls that you hope to never get, no matter where you are. We hurriedly ran back to our room, threw everything in our suitcases and promptly left Vegas as quickly as we had left to get there just hours before. And it hit me on the drive home: there are just some things you can't escape.Sure, by a pool many problems seem to fade; of course, a frozen treat or cocktail can sweeten a day; distance between you and the things that stress you out can be oh so healthy; but certain things will not just call us back to reality, they will throw us back into its arms with an intense gravitational pull. And no one wants the fun to stop. No one wants to go right back to face the things they face every day and were trying to take a break from. But sometimes life requires that you do that. All the important Vegas decisions about where to go for lunch, what to do next, which drink to try, all faded away as the lights from the shows and casinos disappeared behind us.

My friendships are important to me. In this current social/political climate I feel like there is a lot of talk and debate over what defines a family. Yes, there is blood. Your blood relatives will always be family. But I also know from many an experience that family can be defined as something stronger than a blood relation. There are those people who you choose to escape with and choose to escape from. Those people you are happy to see on vacation and in real life, who you hope to never be far from -- I would argue those people are family too. Sure, I could sit and mourn vacation time lost. But in all reality, I was ever so glad I was the one chosen to be by my friend's side when he needed me most.

And really, this post about Vegas wouldn't have been any different from the others prior, had things gone as planned. I would mention the pool, the Sugar Factory etc. etc. So maybe I am actually the one who needs a break from Vegas. I got to thinking, maybe this trip was about something so much deeper than the shopping and the bonding. It's time to be real. Life is short. It's time to live (and not just live it up). It's time to live with what we have, the decisions we have made, and live it with those people who matter the most. Everything else will naturally fade away, like the lights from the Strip fading in the distance.

My friend's grandfather died Saturday morning. We had made it home in time to be with his family. To be there for the end. My grandfather used to live in Las Vegas. He told me that he only saw the lights in downtown go out once: when President Kennedy died. That sight had been so hard for me to imagine ... up until now.