Wednesday, October 31, 2012

funny face

I had a mixture of emotions while I was taking these photos yesterday (actually, I am just plagued with a mixture of emotions all of the time because I am a teenage girl, but that isn't the point) because:
1) I had just given a speech on rape culture which left me feeling a. relieved because it was over and I got an A and b. filled with feminist rage because the speech didn't give me ample time to really press the details
2) I had a HUGE test today which I was completely unprepared for (yesterday) and spent all my time studying the chapters that were barely even on the test (but when I was taking these photos, I didn't know that yet....I just knew that I hadn't started studying & was already feeling mega unprepared)
3) I was filled with fear that creepy Rear Window boy would come down the alley (who I didn't end up seeing, by the way)
4) It was a little chilly without my coat on, and I just wanted to get these photos over with
So now that you know the background of my emotions (just be glad I don't start every post off with this), you will understand why, in some of these photos, I look quite silly and in others I look quite serious or maybe even sad (though jury is still out on whether or not my face naturally falls that way).
p.s. (Aren't I a huge fan of using parenthese?)
And time for some serious talk. Except not, because I'm just talking about getting dressed. Anyways, I'm back to rushing in the morning and just throwing on whatever seems clean and weather-appropriate. In yesterday's case, I needed to look "professional" for my speech, so pants it was. My old lady pants, to be accurate. Or my "lounge pants" if you're my mum. From there I channeled a bit of menswear and wore my favourite bengal striped button down, a cozy sweater (with infuriating 3/4 inch sleeves), and my navy blue blazer to make me look like I know what I'm doing. As a result of all these layers, it hurt to bend my elbows or raise my arms. I could barely even hoist my backpack over my shoulder. Ah, the things we do for "fashion."
I think the end result was a little bit reminiscent of The Little Tramp. Completely accidental.
I'm starting to wonder how much longer I'll be able to keep this up. I'm pretty sure that the outfit posts always slow down over the late-autumn/winter/early-spring season because Minnesota simply was not made for personal style bloggers. I'm going to try to retreat to the porch, but a) that's still freezing cold and b) we lose light around 3pm in the winter. I took these around 3:45 yesterday, and that was golden hour. I feel like a bit of a slacker because October has featured the least number of posts (10) since May (8), due to the fact that it's been extra cloudy and rainy lately. Unfortunately, this means I'll have to write about filler stuff (e.g. inspiration posts, book reviews, "interviews", soapboxing, etc) during the coming months. What a drag! 
Speaking of drags, school sucks. So do boys. I just wanted to throw those two things out there. Oh wait, so does Mitt Romney! Okay, I'm done.
Since I started this out with a "silly" face, I'll end it with one, too. Though this isn't really very silly, considering that I make this face all the time. I was practicing my speech in the mirror the other night and was appalled by how ridiculous my face looks when I speak. I seriously have the hugest gob in the world when I talk.
Anyways, I've said enough. Also, I apologise to everyone who's emailed me or Facebook-ed me without a reply! I'm busy beyond hope and wish I could write everyone a novel with thanks and sweet words, but unfortunately I have to save that for my French literature classes and for the losers at work. I will get around to it soon, but please know that I read every kind word and sentiment and they fill my heart with gratitude xx

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fresh Traditions 2012

Back on September 29th, I was invited to part of Minnesota Fashion Week to see Fresh Traditions, the annual fashion show put on by CHAT (Center for Hmong Arts & Talent). The night showcased five different local Hmong designers who made culturally inspired fashions. I was so excited to be able to attend the event and get a deeper taste of the Hmong culture which is so prevelant here in Minnesota. I took some photos at the event but accidentally deleted them all because I'm horrible with technology. So all photos being shared are courtesy of Huenha.
Khou Chang
Chang's collection "La Sirena" incorporated traditional patterns, rich colours, and "alluring feminie silhouettes." She used a lot of velvet, which is a traditional fabric in Hmong culture. I loved this collection because of the rich colours and the daring cut-outs. It reminded me of chic '90s grunge and I fell in love with many of the pieces, wishing to own them myself. Although Chang designs for "women who need more than jeans and t-shirts" I think that her pieces are easily wearable for any girl.

These two looks were probably my favourites! I loved how sleek and feminine the look on the left is, especially the skirt (not to mention the girl is gorgeous - I had a class with her last semester!). But obviously I'm head over heels for the shorts on the right, not to mention the edgy top (see what I mean when I say '90s grunge?), and the beautiful flower crown.

I love this dress! I definitely wanted it on my body as soon as this model took the runway.

Pahoua Vue
Vue's collection for the programme was called "Trou" and was inspired by her mother and is representative of a young girl's journey to break out of the norm and achieve anything that she wants to do, as long as she keeps a positive attitude. Vue was inspired by the vibrant colours that are such a huge part of the Hmong culture.

This was my favourite look of Vue's collection. The silhouette was reminscent of the '50s, and the blouse had a Spanish influence to it. I loved the colours of this collection. It seemed to be geared towards a more mature crowd and incorporated a lot of very chic, classic silhouettes.

N3 is a design team consisting of Linda Lee, Hiyana Lee, and May Yang. Their collection was based off of Walt Disney's "The Little Mermaid" including Ariel, her sisters, and Ursula. This collection was edgy, original, and the gowns were breathtaking. (Oh, also, the makeup was amazing!)

N3 seemed to appeal to both young and mature clientele. The above look reminded me of a super edgy prom dress, and I love the seafoam green roses on her shoulders!

This dress was breathtaking, and even more amazing when the model walked. To be honest, I definitely got more of a Pocahontas vibe from it, but remarkable all the same.

This one, too, was breathtaking when the model swept down the runway. It is more than clear that this look was mermaid-inspired. What a stunner!

Hy & Pachia
Both apparel students at Saint Catherine University, the designer pair made their debut at Fresh Traditions with a collection of elegant gowns. Many of the pieces featured brocade , satin, and mesh and very conciously highlighted the feminine figure. I definitely wanted to wear one of these beautiful pieces to the opera!

Feather shoulder pads? Yes please!

I love how the mesh cascades down from the back of the dress. It's so elegant.

Oskar Ly
Ly's collection was the only one to feature both men's and women's looks, "embracing the hard and soft edges of femininity/masculinity with a little spice of androgyny." Right now in Minnesota, an amendment is on this year's election ballot which would change the consitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. By using LBGTQ models and couples on the runway, and even ending her collection by walking down the catwalk with her own girlfriend, Ly raised positive awareness of the political issue and resoundedly encouraged everyone to VOTE NO!

This was probably the comfiest look of the night, but also so elegant and edgy!

This dress itself earned a standing ovation. The use of colour and high-low skirt was stunning and offset the relatively simple silhouette.

I just wanted to extend my thanks to CHAT and to Linda Thao for inviting me to the programme. I was completely speechless afterwards. The work was beautiful and the effort of the organisation is beautiful in itself. Nothing could have prepared me for all of the culture, personal style, and pride that I absorbed that evening. And again, thanks so much to Elmo Lee of Huenha for letting me use his wonderful photos - they do so much more justice to the intricate art and fashions than mine ever could have. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Before I get to the actual "meat" of this post (don't you just hate that saying?), let me start off by apologising for the horrid quality of these photos. I took them Tuesday night (okay, it was more around 3:30 or 4pm, which isn't really night) when it was rainy and cloudy out. I didn't want to face the crummy weather, so I sought refuge on my porch. That backfired because the lighting was dreadful and I ended up setting the ISO to 400, f/4.0, and the shutter at about 4/1000. If I had been smart, I would've switched out the lens to something where I can bump the f-stop to 1.5 or so, but I wasn't thinking. Anyways, this is now getting extremely technical. The bottom line is: these photos are horrible quality. I tried to get the graininess out best I could, but my face was usually a massive blur in most of these takes. Eh, faces are overrated anyways.
So speaking of horrid weather: it snowed today. I love the snow, don't get me wrong, but I left the house today without checking the weather (FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE) and realised that the 50-something degrees I thought it would be was actually more like 30-something, not to mention it was raining and super windy. I left the house wearing a dress, my yellow raincoat, and some oxfords. Everything about what I was wearing was completely wrong and, as a result, I turned into a human popsicle. Oh yeah, it also started snowing mid-way through my first class and so I was that dumbass walking around in the snow wearing a yellow rain jacket. It's not easy being Minnesotan.
Anyways, now that I got the weather out of the way, time for the "good" stuff. I've been in a super grungey, lazy mood lately, and this outfit was no exception. I'm completely obsessed with the new jacket froom J.J. Basics that my mum bought me. I want to wear it everyday. I want to sleep in it. I want to have its babies. I kept things pretty simple since I knew it was dreary outside (I'm definitely not the type to wear bright colours on an overcast day...or ever....)(yellow rain jacket aside) so I wore a black velvet top from the thrift store, my usual cut offs, cheetah print belt, and shoes from
This grunge look is completely matching my mood. I'm so anti-social sometimes. Or all the time. My job requires me to happily engage with everyone who comes by (I do guest services for a major business) but when I'm at home, on campus, commuting, etc. I am Miss Grumpy. I like to be alone with my music, my books, my movies, myself, what have you. If it wasn't for my job or the internet, I'd probably have little to no contact with the outside world.
So speaking of, there's a guy who often rides the same bus as me who's taken to talking to me about politics. Which I guess I don't mind too much. I'm burnt out on politics to the max, but he's always seemed like a perfectly nice man. Well, I was talking to him today and he paid me the compliment of telling me that I was very different from most other people, in the way I articulated myself and the way I thought about things. It was a compliment, he said it in a very nice way. But it got me thinking of two things:
a. I'm frequently fascinated by certain people. The way they think, the way they present themselves, etc. It's the type of fascination where you hold onto everything they say and do, memorising it to a T and then playing it over and over again in your head. There've been several people who've caught my interest in such a way. I suppose this man on the bus was sort of implying a similar thing about me... I have always wondered if I piqued other people's interests in the same ways that they do mine.
b. I've never been comfortable with receiving compliments, especially of a cosmetic nature. I'm never comfortable with boys (or men) telling me I have perfect legs, or a great figure, or that I'm sexy, or anything of that sort. I'm not even comfortable with my boyfriends paying me such compliments. I find them degrading, even if they're not meant to be. I'd much rather have someone compliment me for my mind, my personality, for me being me. Looks can change. I'll put on a bit of weight or I'll wear clothes that don't show off my figure, I'll have a bad hair day or my skin will break out, and then you're left wondering if you're still attractive, if that other person still finds you sexy or appealing. I don't like to be made to feel like an object of beauty, sex, or attraction. It's polarising, it doesn't make me feel very human. But when people compliment me on my personality, my sense of humour, my thoughts, it makes me feel human. It makes me feel appreciated and gives me a sense of security.
This may not be anything revelutionary to a lot of people, but after talking to this man on the bus, I thought about it on my walk home (in the snow) and was so elated to finally be able to put words to my feelings. For years, I've always felt uncomfortable when various boyfriends have told me I'm sexy, etc. and of course this has always inspired some sort of guilt for feeling this way. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my chest, now that I can finally explain myself. It's a great feeling, isn't it?
I've joked in the past about re-naming this blog Minnesota Weather and Occasional Personal Style Blog, but now I'm thinking that something more like Outspoken 19 year old's Unapologetic Thoughts on Society and Adolescence would be more appropriate.
I'm pretty sure I'm scaring all of my "friends" away because of my outspokeness. I just have a lot on my mind.
Anyways, it's getting late! I spent the evening trying to do a homework assignment, and instead getting nowhere (and watching That '70s Show). I'm now listening to Christmas music and realising that it is only 2 months till Christmas! How wonderful to think about. Anyways, time to jump into bed and watch Harold Lloyd silents! Till next time, friends, stay warm xx

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monster X

Autumn. Cooler weather sets in. I usually have no problem with that, I cheerfully layer up and face the brisk autumn breeze with a smile. But a new problem has suddenly bore its ugly face: mice. It seems that a family of homeless mice have found a way to sneak into our kitchen and scurry through our cabinets. It started with some innocent droppings (read: not so innocent when they carry disease) and chewing through all of the red silicone utensils in the top drawer. Last night around 11:30, I remembered that I had left my notebook downstairs. I descended from my bedroom into the kitchen, snapped on the light, and cast a weary glance towards the drawers. To my horror, Mickey was scurrying across the counter top in desperation to reach safehaven. I let out a scream, immediately breaking into a nervous fit, and sprinted back upstairs to shake and shiver.
Terrified, I climbed into bed and called my kitty Peter to come see me. He immediately calmed me down with his sweet purring and rubbing against my side. But then, in an instant, he snapped out of this and frantically began eyeing the wall, the ceiling, and the corner of my bed. "Peter, stop it, you're scaring me!" I said repeatedly, trying to rub his head and get his playful attention back (story of my life with boys, I swear). Suddenly, I heard it to. In the wall behind my bed, a loud scurrying and scuffling. Clutching my textbook and my cellphone, I sprang out of my bed and ran into the hallway whispering, "Peter, stop it, Peter come here, you're scaring me..." (can you tell how single and spinster-y I am?) I ended up resorting to the cold, shadowy guest room but had the creepy-crawly feeling that mice were climbing all over me, biting my skin. I rubbed myself raw in a few places and tossed and turned, clutching onto Peter, until I fell asleep.
When I woke up, one of the members of our mouse family was squashed in a trap. This breaks me. I hate having vermin in the house, but I don't want to kill them. I just want them to leave. After searching several ways of humanely catching mice, I'm going to try to implement this contraption for tonight.
I don't know what the above story exemplifies more: my abhorrence to killing creatures (seriously, I captured and set loose a fly from my bedroom yesterday) or how much of a wuss I am about critters. It's not even so much that they carry disease. Mice are just scary the way they dart around and compress their bodies to freak show proportions. I wouldn't be nearly as terrified if they entered the scene cautiously, preferrably flashing red lights of warning.
My reluctance to kill mice is almost equal to my reluctance to wear anything gorey or with gross imagery. This sweater is an exception. I found it at Target a year or two ago in the little boy's section and something about it just yelled, "Buy me!" I wear it whenever I'm having lazy days.
This outfit is actually from Sunday. I woke up with a grumble and a groan, not wanting to get on with my day knowing that it would mean nothing but homework. I'm really strict about going to church. I probably only miss 3 or 4 services a year and it's almost always in the case of illness (though when I wasn't so studious, sometimes it was in the case of hungover-ness). I didn't feel like getting all prim and proper for church yesterday, so I sat in front of my closet and thought, "What would Angela Chase wear?" I came out with this season-appropriate, semi-grunge, lazy '90s look.
The dress is something I found at a garage sale this summer for a couple of bucks. The lady selling it was amazingly eccentric and I was tempted to buy almost everything there. She had briefly implied that most of the stuff was hanging around in her closet for years and she finally decided to rid of it after realising she wasn't going to lose any weight. Good thing I was there to gleefully snatch it all up. Since the dress is short sleeved and has a plunging neckline, I layered it with my favourite flannel and aforementioned sweatshirt. My mum also just bought me a new cargo jacket from Macy's by the brand J.J. Basics. I fell in love with it immediately and knew I had to have it for fall.
I'm trying to decide whether or not I should waste my time on the Presidential debate tonight. It's starting now but I'm so burnt out on politics. I know who I'm voting for, it's all starting to just get ugly. Plus, I have loads of existentialist French reading to do, oy vey!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The News from 1968

I'm exhausted to a degree which I don't know that I've ever been before. Not physically. I am intellectually exhausted. It might have to do with the election. People know that I'm political and have, up until this point, been more than open to discuss politics. But now I am tired. I am on pins & needles over this election, mostly because as a woman, a student, and a member of the middle class, there is a lot at stake for me. If Obama loses the election, I am, to put it less than eloquently, fucked.
If you haven't heard about it yet, there's an uproar over last night's debate in which Mitt Romney commented, in a question about whether or not he supports fair pay for equal work for women, that he has a "binder full of women." He went on to try to say that when he was elected governor, he went out to women's groups and tried to find women to be part of his cabinet (because apparently he didn't know any women in the workforce). Romney has never once in his run for Presidency said whether or not he is in support of the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Isn't it pathetic that in America, only in 2009 did women gain larger access to be able to sue their employee over gender-based pay discrimination? It sickens me. What sickens me more is that there is a candidiate up for Presidency who continually evades the yes or no question of whether or not he supports this bill. How did he get so far when he is so sexist?
I am exhausted of being a young woman in this society. I could scream. I wish I could scream a scream that would wipe away sexism. A scream that would wake up the bigots, the porn mongers, the pimps, the politicians, the movie makers, and the entire male population. A scream that would tell them that I am equal, that I am not any less than them, and that the way women are treated is not okay. A scream that would let them know that rape exists, sexual assault exists, and that is not okay. I am exhausted because everyday, I am forced to hold this scream in. And when I do dare to open my mouth about rape and about equal rights, I am ignored. Or worse, I am told that these are not my rights, they are my privileges and I shouldn't fight for more than what I've been granted. Wouldn't you be exhausted, too? Wouldn't you just want to scream until people actually noticed? Until people cared and became proactive?
I took these photos out on the porch. I finally convinced my parents that it was time to re-do the porch and offered to take total design control. We ripped up the linoleum flooring and underneath were hundreds of old newspapers from 1968. I spent a long time reading through many of them and carefully picked up the ones that weren't stuck to the floor so that I could peruse them later.
My grandfather Ray had put them all down before laying down the flooring. I never met my grandfather. He died in 1985 at the age of 62 due to the effects of smoking. But I've always treasued him and in my desperate eyes, these newspapers are simply an extension of him. I'm sure we've all felt that way about someone. Someone you love so desperately but you never knew them, so instead you collect photos and letters and things that they touched because you just want to know them so badly.
I'd like to say that this outfit is inspired by 1968, but I really don't think it is. I don't even know what this outfit is! It's a bit boyish, a bit preppy, a little bit of the '80s, a little bit of the '50s. Also, sorry about the weird lens flare on my sweater in most of these. I do not know what was going on!
This photo looks all model-y and pose-y but really, I was just watching a black squirrel playing games in the fallen leaves. That little guy's been living in my neighbourhood for a few months now and I think it's time to give him a name. But what? Hmmmm.....
Back in middle school, I used to keep a list of my favourite names for when I played The Sims and my Sims had babies. I've gone back and looked at some of the names and was astonished at my poor taste. Sunshine? Rainbow? Rietgaard? (I hope I don't offend anyone if those truly are your names....) However, considering that I want to name my first son Raymond Apollo and that my favourite girls names are Doris, Eloise, Mabel, & Clara, my future children really are not any better off.
(Also, isn't it remarkable how I switch from topic to topic? This is a glimpse into the inner workings of my brain.)
I look extremely melancholy and serious in these photos. It's the exhaustion. It's seeping into every area of my life. I did, however, post an outtake to the blog's Facebook page (why do you not "like" me?) in which I am smiling. See, see, see?! I can smile! It does occasionally happen! Actually, at work, I'm pretty sure they should just nickname me Smiley because I can never seem to wipe that grin off my face. It just never spills over to when I am alone.
Also, I constantly have people comment or email me saying, "I think I saw you in such and such place!" and it's almost always me so I think, "Why don't you ever just say hi?" and then I realise that I usually always have major bitchface when I'm alone or on campus, and no one wants to approach that. But seriously, come say hi. My bitchface is misleading.
(As a sidenote, if you're just some guy coming to ask for my number or to pass some inappropriate commentary towards me, then the bitchface applies. Oh yes, it applies.)
Unfortunately some of the newspaper got really really stuck to the floor (excess moisture aka cat piss?) and will not come up no matter what. I took quite a few photos of what I did manage to pull up. Some of the headlines are hilarious, same with the advertising! It is so different than what we have today.
(I thought that the above was rather festive given the upcoming Halloween)
Anyways, sorry for the rather serious post. I just have so much pent up feminist rage lately. Today some guy walked up to me at the train station and said, "Hi my name is Brian. Where're you from?" And when I said St. Paul, he instantly replied with, "So can I have your number?" I wanted to reply with, if you actually knew me, you'd probably think I was fucking crazy...but instead I just said no. I'm going to try the fucking crazy line next time. I really am. (Also, isn't "Where are you from?" the laziest pick up line in the world?)

Sunday, October 14, 2012


A month or two ago I was at some bad college party. I spent a large portion of the party sitting on the couch with a boy from the university who was asking me, "Do you write?" I hesitated before answering, "Yes, I write everyday." It wasn't a lie. I write for this blog at least 3 days a week. I used to journal everyday, back before school took over every emotion I had. When I was little, 4 or 5, my favourite thing to do was to sit in the big chair in the corner of the living room and write stories on my typewriter. I entered a story in the annual Reading Rainbow story contest and was crushed when I didn't win for my division. My story had been about a little mouse trying to climb up a hill and I had personally illustrated it and lovingly shipped it off to LeVar Burton in hopes of being published.
The first time I was actually published was when I was 17. I wrote a story called Jon and a poem which were both published in my university's annual undergrad lit magazine. They asked me to read the poem at the launch for the magazine, but I really wanted to read the story. It was based on a true story about a boy I knew who used to get beat up, and he'd come to work with black eyes and he was so sweet to me, it broke me to see him hurt. I wanted the world to read that story and be in love with Jon, because he was so lovely. I had written it for a writing class I'd been in, actually, and during peer review, most of the comments I received were that my classmates "didn't get it." Getting it published in the lit magazine was one of the most poetic things that has ever happened to me. It was a dream fulfilled, one that I'd coveted since I was in preschool, but it was also my chance to be heard and for the world to love some stranger that they never knew.
Just last week, I saw an announcement that the same literary magazine was accepting applications for their 2013 issue. Immediately I sat down with the intention of writing a story about another person that I had known, one who inspired me and who I thought would disappear if I didn't write my heart and soul out about him. But it just didn't come. I spend my time in class constantly mulling over this particular person, wishing to write him all the love songs in the world, but nothing ever comes out.
Sometimes I feel like an emotional cripple, but then I can sit in church and cry over all the people hurting. I can't even watch the news without a box of tissue nearby. I love freely and I am overly empathetic. It's killing me that I cannot write beautiful words for this beautiful boy who deserves every single one of them.

Even though I cannot muster up the words for this boy, I am constantly yearning for romance...from him, or anyone. This time of year (or anytime of year really, I mean, who're we kidding?) makes me feel especially alone. I fill my life with studies and work and thinking up little love stories while I'm on the bus. I devour old Hollywood films and gaze up at the postcards I have pinned above my bed that friends have sent to me from all over the world.
I'm determined to find companionship for the winter, however. Even if it's only in short friendships or in sending Christmas cards through the post. University makes me lonely. Or maybe it's just the season. Autumn has a habit of making the heart lonesome.
Are you guys all nice and depressed now? Here's a half-assed smile for you, and hopefully some happier words to follow:
My favourite things about autumn? Layers, knits, lipstick, stockings, late mornings & early evenings, dorky hats, sleeping with extra blankets, and the promise of oncoming snow.
I celebrated autumn by layering this H&M horse sundress with my super cuddly turtleneck. I love this sweater because of the colours, I swear it has every colour in it. It was also found (for free) at the back of my sister's closet, so double score.
My pops took these photos for me today, so I have quite a few (I'm usually a bit of a wimp about taking my own photos and only come out with 3 or 4 that I actually like).

The weather is insanely windy lately. Instead of having a face, I mostly just have an entire head of hair and usually a hand wiping it desperately away from my eyes and mouth.
I've written a lot for you guys tonight. I guess I just have a lot to get off my chest. I'm skipping 2 of my 3 classes tomorrow so that I can work on two different French essays and a speech about rape in our culture. I need to be deeply intellectual and thoughtful for all 3 assignments, so I suppose it's good to clear my head first. Of course, a walk out in the brisk fall air will wake me up proper, too!