Wednesday, November 28, 2012

If you wanna be happy...

These are the days of wanting to stay in bed all day, eating cookies, drinking hot chocolate, and watching Home Alone. These are also the days of less daylight, below-freezing temperatures, final essays, presentations, projects, and exams. As many cozy layers as I can pile on top of my 5 foot tall frame are an everyday necessity not only to fight the chill but also to create the illusion that I've never left bed and can nestle my face in the blankets whenever I need to escape to somewhere soft and sleepy.
These photos are from yesterday, when it was around 34°F out (warm for Minnesotans) and I just didn't want to wear anything or drag myself out of bed, much less the house. As a result, I put on this purple dress from New Mexico, a super cozy fuzzy knit turtleneck, flannel by Shaun White for Target, an old hat that I used to put on my teddy bear, purple Doc Martens, a scarf gifted to me by my best friend, and an old coat from the charity shop.
Because of all these layers of knits and flannels and linings, I barely felt like I'd left bed all day. I also had horrible hat hair which was equivalent to bed head, so double win.
I cleaned out my closet the other night and found some old things that I'd forgotten I'd had, including this purple sun dress. I haven't bought myself clothes, accessories, or much of anything except food for a few months now. I haven't had time this semester even to do online shopping. I feel good about this. I feel really good about this. I haven't felt the need to fill some void with material goods, only to be unsatisfied and buy more and more. I have more than what I need as it is. I think a lot of people, especially in Western civilizations, live in excess and waste their money on stupid things they don't need, like another pair of jeans or leggings or cable television or the newest Apple product. Seriously, who needs an iPad? No one. Who needs 4 pairs of jeans? No one. Who needs cable television? Yupp, you guessed it - no one.
I used to buy a lot of clothes and DVDs and shoes because I thought that they made me feel more complete. What a misconception. I've wasted so much money on buying shit I don't need or even really want that badly - or worse, that I only want for about 15 minutes. This semester, I've barely bought myself anything - and I feel good. I have less clutter in my room, I have more money in my pocket, and I feel less stressed about the amount of money I'm spending.
Because I haven't bought myself much of anything this semester, and because I'm not spending more than $15 per person for Christmas (I brought everyone gifts back from Guatemala), I decided to take a tag from the giving tree at my church and fulfill the gifts on the wishlist of a 19 year old girl living in Rezek House. Rezek House is an establishment for homeless teens aged 16 - 21 who need a stable and affordable living situation. So today, between classes, I set out for downtown Minneapolis to buy my girl an across-the-body purse and a dozen pairs of crazy, colourful socks. She also wants a personal heater, which I've yet to research & purchase.
I hadn't spent this much money in months - maybe even since last Christmas - and it was so strange. At first I felt really stressed about how much I was spending, but then I remembered that it isn't for me. I'm buying this girl gifts because I just want to make her smile, even if I'm not there to see it. In my case, I don't need material gifts in order to have a happy Christmas, because I am so blessed to have a job and have parents who let me live at home and eat their food. If someone asked me what material gift I wanted for Christmas, I couldn't even be able to tell them. I want all my friends to be together with me. I want my sister to stay healthy. I want the strength to succeed in school and be able to study abroad... I have plenty of socks. I have a nice purse. I live in a home with central heating. I don't need any of this, or really any more material gifts. I don't feel compelled to buy any of this type of stuff for myself. But if these things will make someone else happy, then why shouldn't I help to make her smile?
I urge everyone, in the spirit of the holiday season, to look beyond the material needs of both yourself and your privileged friends and family, and reach out to those in need. Trust me, it's a great feeling.
(That said, I fully support buying yourself a reward if you've worked really hard this year and want to buy yourself a puppy or some chocolates or what have you.)
I always end up getting on my soapbox when I don't even mean too...
Speaking of soapboxing, I'm watching Charlie Brown Christmas. This is quite possibly my favourite Christmas television special. No, it is my favourite! I love the wisdom that the Peanuts gang shares. Especially Linus. And I love Charlie Brown for being so introspective. And Lucy for being so brash. Snoopy is hilarious and creative, and I love Sally for how obsessed she is with Linus. I think we all can relate to that - when little hearts pop up around her and she gets all googly eyed and says, "That's the boy I'm going to marry!" - we've all been there. I remember growing up and always thinking that I'd marry a man like Schroeder - dedicated to his art and intensely serious. The Peanuts gang is just so dynamic...I love it. And the Charlie Brown Christmas special captures the true spirit of Christmas in a way that a lot of movies and television specials just...can't.
My mum bought me a gingerbread kit at the grocery store today and I'm so excited to make it once when I'm finished with finals! That's when I'm really gonna have my fun.
Take care and stay warm from the cold! Hopefully I'll be back soon, less exhausted and with more Christmas spirit! And in case I didn't cheer you up much, maybe Jimmy Soul can. xx

Sunday, November 25, 2012

inspiration from the ill

I'm absolutely sick sick sick. My voice is a terrifying scratchy whisper and I'm sniffling and sneezing like there's no tomorrow. I had gotten all dressed up for church and planned to take outfit photos, only to find that it is freezing cold out and no place for little girls plagued by illness. So instead, I will share some "inspiration" with you. Send me some sweet words and I will return them.

Budapest, Hungary. (source unknown)
The Bed & How to Make It (The Loved One)
(source unknown)
Jenny Holzer - Truisms (1977-79)
Jenny Holzer - Truisms (1977-79)

(source unknown)

Broken Blossoms. 1919.
Tavi. (Style Rookie)

Mickey's Rival. 1936.
(source unknown)
(source unknown)
Anthony Perkins for Seventeen Magazine, 1960.
(source unknown)

George Harrison. (source unknown)

(Life is full of little happinesses.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Work hard & be nice to people

Thanksgiving in America. Part of me always wants to be that person who's like, "Yay! Thanksgiving! America! Time to be together with the family!" but the dominant part of me more thinks, "Thanksgiving...celebrating a short-lived friendship between Natives & settlers before we gave them small pox and put them onto reservations." We still treat Native Americans poorly, which is really upsetting that we have a holiday that commemorates this relationship.
We're coming up the anniversary of the largest mass execution in American history, which was of 39 Natives at the order of President Lincoln (and which took place in Mankato, Minnesota). And just the other week, a group of  Dakota women walked the footsteps of 1,700 of their ancestors, all women, children, and elders, in a 125 mile march from southern Minnesota to Fort Snelling. It was in remembrance of the 150 year anniversary of the journey that their Dakota ancestors were forced to make in the U.S. Dakota War of 1962. An estimated 400 died in this march.
I think it's horrid that we have this history but still continue to, in effect, repeat it by condemning others for their race, culture, or sexuality. It shows how truly ignorant and brutal we were to these people "back in the day", but it also shows how much prejudice remains. It's upsetting that our country couldn't have learned from their tragic misdecisions of the past and be more accepting of people these days. I find the history of how we've treated Native people to be devastating, and it's so backwards (in my opinion) to be celebrating a holiday based around this treatment.
So anyways, now that you know my opinion on that particular American holiday...
I had a couple of classes today and was running rather late because I had to wait 10 minutes to get into the bathroom this morning, so when I went into my closet with 5 minutes to get dressed, the first thing that came to my mind was, "Comfortable!" Oh, I'm also sick (typical) so comfort was extra key. I instinctively grabbed my Levi's mom jeans (is "mom jeans" politically correct?) because nothing says comfort quite like mom jeans, aside from sweat pants (but I have dignity...though not much).
I had found this shirt at the thrift store a few weeks ago. It's super soft and flowy, plus the print said "home" to me. When I bought it, it didn't look half as big as it really is, but I like it. It's comfy. (Comfy seems to be the word of the day.) I layered some pearls (glam) and this furry suede vest from Tunnel Vision. Oh, I also wore my brown Doc Martens. The whole ensemble ended up being a bit rugged, a bit chic. It was very Nineties-Northern-Minnesota-Cabin-Mom-esque.
Oh, I also wore my jacket from JJ Basics that my mum bought me! I'm obsessed with it. I want to sleep in it. It's better than a boyfriend.
As I was taking these photos, my dumb neighbour came down the alley and saw me (you can see his car in the above photo). At first I was all like, "Oh no, I look like a dumb teenage girl! I need to move away!" but then I realised it was my neighbour with whiskey plates, and I suddenly was no longer embarrassed. (Whiskey plates mean that you've been caught drinking and driving more than twice, and have to keep humiliating white license plates on all your cars denoting that you're irresponsible & took other people's lives in your own hands.) Drinking and driving is one thing that I have zero tolerance for - it's just so unexcusable.
I just finished watching the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special, which is part of what feuled that episode of soapboxing. I missed the Halloween one, unfortunately, and I'm not too crazy about the Thanksgiving one, also unfortunately. They did, however, announce that the Christmas one will be showing next Wednesday! Yippee! I almost forgot that after tomorrow, I can openly begin celebrating Christmas.
Anyways, to all my American friends - enjoy your Thanksgiving tomorrow - and to all else, keep warm, work hard, and be nice! xx

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Where are you going, where have you been?

Semester slump is in full swing. There's something like 16 days left of classes and I am already pretending to myself that I am on winter break with no repsonsibilities, no exams, no presentations or homework or essays. It's extremely foolish of me, but I'm restless and annoyingly anxious to be done with this horrid semester.
Instead of focusing on the here and now, I am constantly caught up in my past and my future. I think often on semesters past, summer memories, prior trips I've taken, funny things that friends have said to me, when the next snowfall will be, with whom I will fall in love next, what cities I will visit in the coming months or years, and all sorts of foolish little things that keep me distracted from what needs to be done. It's probably a huge part of why I've fallen behind on blogging, actually. I spend too much time sitting in class daydreaming and then getting home and moping around feeling sorry for myself and wishing for the future to happen sooner.
Before break starts I have: one speech, one quiz, one script to write, four essays, two tests, two final exams, one film production, two more novels to read, and three presentations. Aye yi yi...everything creeps up fast! I better get a lot of this done over Thanksgiving break (between working 20 hours over two days and commencing with my Christmas celebrating).
I'm getting to the point where I'm a bit sick of everything in my closet (clean out time!) and so I went back to this H&M skirt which I haven't worn in ages but which I love (despite the static cling due to dry air). Before getting dressed this morning, I was reminded of a horrendous thing that happened to me when I wore stay ups & a garter to church once (read: half the congregation was exposed to what lay underneath my dress), so I went with these polka dot tights. All of my plain sheer tights have horrible runs in them and I like to try to keep in classy at church. Polka dots are classy.
I was also wearing this scarf which I found at a garage sale over the summer for $1. It is of different monuments in London (if you're blind and cannot tell by the photo). Even though London was my least favourite city that I've visited in Europe, this scarf had a definite charm to it (which London lacked). I'd love to go back to the city another time, when I'm not burnt out on backpacking and when it isn't peak tourist season. I swear, all of Europe is 1000x worse during tourist season. That said, you know you live in a (somewhat) boring town when there is no difference between tourist & non-tourist season. Welcome to Saint Paul, Minnesota. Oh well, I like it here. A lot better than London.
This brings me to my next point: study abroad! I'm still dreaming about studying abroad. I have my keen eye on Copenhagen for fall semester. It is probably the most expensive programme that my university even offers, but it also seems like the best fit (other than financially) for me. I keep my fingers continuously crossed that I can afford it. Denmark just looks so romantic and beautiful - a perfect mix between modern and rustic - and also very green, which I like.
I'm still so distraught that in America, our government would rather tear up the land in search of oil than invest in wind or solar energy. I remember when I was in Munich, I was so impressed by how everyone had solar panels on their rooves. I wish that Americans had the same outlook on keeping a healthy planet, even if it means making sacrifices in the types of vehicles they drive.
I also have my fingers crossed for study abroad in Paris for May Term and also for a summer internship. I really need to start learning about what is out there! There's so much to do, so much to see...
Well, I guess I have postponed my studies for long enough! I've been listening to Christmas music all day and have finally gotten around to starting a Christmas Cheer board on Pinterest. I seriously don't know why it took so long for me to do that...
And now, the homework must commence! xx

Thursday, November 15, 2012

photo life.

Sometimes pictures are worth more than words could ever express. It would be impossible for me to describe to you the simple pleasure of the library in my house with creaky wood floors and dusty volumes crammed into every cob-webbed crevice. I don't think I could ever put words to the crisp air up in Finlayson, MN, where time transcends and ghosts roam through the vast prairies. I don't think I could ever do justice to how my pup, Moses, smells so warm, or how his paws feel when he stumbles across my legs. And my cat - how fragile and scared he is. How do I express that in words alone?
There are a lot of beautiful things in my life which I don't write about on this blog. A lot of adventures I go on, a lot of people I meet and love and long for, and a lot of laughs and tears and all sorts of emotions here and there. I try to carry my camera around with me when I can so that when words aren't enough, there is at least a photo.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

true to the navy

Another impromptu blog hiatus. I'm actually proud of how much I've been able to keep this blog going this semester, considering that I'm doing 19 credits and working more than 15 hours a week. I think it helps that I don't otherwise have a life or contact with the outside world.
I'm restless as all get out. I yearn for romance and for love and a little bit of adventure along the way. I wish to be done with tramping around campus in the cold and of reading all these damn French existentialist novels, only to get a C on all of my classwork. I want to go back to Guatemala and pick axe those giant boulders. I want to be wandering around Prague, hopping from bar to bar and finishing at 2 in the morning by wandering aimlessly across the Saint Charles Bridge. I want to spend all day in bed with a nice boy, watching Buster Keaton classics and drinking hot chocolate. I'm just so restless about where I am in life currently. It's time for a change of some sort.
On the bright side, I only have 4 weeks of semester left. I am looking forward to getting this semester over with, because it has brought me nothing but stress. I'm already registered for Spring semester and am hoping that that goes a bit better and that I have more time for a life outside from the library.
One thing that has changed - the weather. I woke up on Monday to snow falling in big, fluffy flakes. It was actually delightful to wait for the bus and to scurry through campus between classes - it felt like I was in a snowglobe!
Of course the snow and below freezing temps also requires a change of wardrobe. Stockings are an everyday necessity, as are socks and at least two layers on top. Today I am wearing a new jacket/shirt thing I found at Unique Thrift the other week. It was only something like $4 and I knew it suited me perfectly! It is super warm and I didn't even need another coat today, despite it being something like 38°F outside (alright, I'm also wearing a sweater underneath, but I was toasty warm).
The shirt must have belonged to a rather small sailor, considering that I am teeny tiny. The sleeves are a bit long and the shoulders are a bit broad, but it is so cozy and smells absolutely nice. The tag on the back has a place for name/date, but the ink has all smeared, so unfortunately I don't know anything about the owner. I can, however, say that the navy has always been my particular favourite branch of the military. It's the pants and caps. It really is. That and I'm a dork for all the sailor musicals (On the Town, Anchors Aweigh, Follow the Fleet...). Sailor pants were just made for tap dancing!
I am also wearing a skirt I bought in the Zara kids section when I was in Lyon. I really, really would like for the Mall of America to get Zara. Of course, I'd spend all of my money there, but seriously, I'm obsessed! I went into Zara in every city that I found them in in Europe. The skirt & shirt were miraculously the exact same colour (and material) so it looked like I was wearing a drop waist dress. This is alright with me. The whole look was a little bit Twenties-esque and reminded me of a little flapper girl sailing her toy boat in the pond at the park.
When I was little, my sister and I would make boats out of styrofoam and then float them down a man-made stream in a downtown Saint Paul park. It was sort of magical and one of those childhood memories that I will probably never forget. If only I had this outfit to go along with it when I was little - it would have been even more magical!
I am also wearing a sweater from the second hand shop and brogues from Wanted.
I give a speech on Thursday all about the use of language to add to sexist & homphobic stereotypes (I am arguing against it, of course!). I still have yet to research/write it (tomorrow!) but wish me luck! After that, I have Friday and Saturday free to work and to not stress about school for once. Keep warm & stay true to the navy xx