Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Sabre 620: Weekend Project

Ok, enough about that. You can read Al Jazeera yourself if you want to, and it's making me cry again. So anyway, I decided to party like an Egyptian last Friday, and spent all Saturday recovering from that. Vitamin Water and Neko Case work wonders, and when all else fails, a Turkish coffee and some lentil soup.

I finally bought 620mm (color) film off of ebay, and I figured out how to load it into my old-school camera from instruction on this website. It has pdfs of manuals from almost every old manual camera you can think of. Unfortunately it's been either dark or kinda gray outside lately, so I'm waiting for a good opportunity to take pictures. I think I only get 12, and then I have to find somewhere that will develop it...if you know of a place in Chicago, let me know!

A friend is coming to visit this weekend and we are going to do touristy and groovy Chicago things, so consider this my reminder to take pictures!

I think the picture is from the Sartorialist, but I'm not sure. It's relevant because... it's a photograph and I'm talking about photography?? haha. It's relevant. Trust me. Ahem. Moving on.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I stayed up way too late last night, with the intention of celebrating Egypt's overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. To be perfectly honest, I spent most of yesterday reading or watching or listening to news from Egypt and weeping in public. I'm a teary person, but the jubilation of seeing a nation free themselves from 30 years of oppression and tyranny is just too good to keep any kind of composure. It was wonderful hearing everyone in the streets, crying out "be proud, you're an Egyptian!" It's just so rare to hear good news, especially from this region, that has such a sense of hope. I've spent a lot of time hoping for this day, both for Egypt and for other countries struggling under unjust regimes. It's insane to think that finally a revolution based on human dignity and the desire for social justice and freedom has succeeded. To have words like freedom and justice bandied around in a totally sincere way is incredibly moving, and I think it was the contrast between the protesters complete life-and-death sincerity and Mubarak's empty rhetoric in his last speech that made it so enraging. Was it just the right time? Why now? Why Egypt (first, I hope!)? Things to think about.

One thing that gives me hope that the Egyptians will find a peaceful and democratic government moving forward is the communal spirit of the revolution and the sense of responsibility for their future that Egyptians feel. As they banded together to clean up downtown after the fights and protests of the past 18 days, a flyer distributed says:

"Today this country is your country. Do not litter. Don't drive through traffic lights. Don't bribe. Don't forge paperwork. Don't drive the wrong way. Don't drive quickly to be cool while putting lives at risk. Don't enter through the exit door at the metro. Don't harass women. Don't say, 'It's not my problem.' Consider God in your work. We have no excuse anymore."
First, that's kind of hilarious, because it sums up all the daily ills of life in Cairo, but it's also amazing, because instead of the usual cynicism and resignation that was so embedded in the national psyche, it shows an incredible sense of agency and hope.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

French Classics

I saw this book, by French model Inès de la Fressange, on the blog A Lovely Being, and images from RDuJour. It's already available in a French version, and an American version will arrive in April. Unfortunately, neither seems to have the clean cover style of the image above, which is upsetting because the cover alone makes me want to buy it. I read style books like this as a guilty pleasure, but unfortunately it is a pleasure that always lets me down. It's all very nice to think of dressing like an ever-classy Parisienne, or like Kate Spade or the people from What Not to Wear, but I don't, and I don't want to.
I guess the premise of the book is that it shows the French classics worn by mother and daughter, who is 17-year-old Nine D'Urso. Perhaps it shows that there is no age limit on being a sexy and sophisticated rich Parisienne? Please excuse my bitter tone.
It's not that I don't think this style is beautiful (except the yellow text boxes, which remind me of my old Spanish textbook). In fact, I think a variation on the classic French style might be a perfect solution for my need for a work uniform.
Maybe not the mini or the cargo, of course, but the stripes, simple shapes and colors, some nice jackets and good expensive-looking fabrics could elevate more a more casual style to be work-appropriate. No?
As soon as it's spring, I am going to wear white jeans to work. Is that ok? I have them, I love them, they love me... but I'm too much of southerner to not get heart palpitations trying to wear them in the winter. Also the slush would destroy them, and that would be sad.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I'm Too Sexy for my ... Job

Mosey suggested heels and form-fitting clothes, and an attempt at wearing make-up, as a way to look more adult and professional at work. I agree, for the most part. But, my work environment has a few strange requirements. I work with people, (not paper or computers) some of whom come from cultures more conservative than mine, so I feel a need to dress with careful modesty. I have actually been hit on by homeless people waiting to get into a clinic in the building, when I've worn more form-fitting clothing, which made me extremely uncomfortable. (This picture is actually a great example of my kind of failure of biz cas clothing-- technically it's a business-like skirt and a button-down, right? but the shirt is too thin and her hair is all "I just got out of bed" and when you're that tall all skirts look short on you, and it just comes off all wrong.)

I also do a lot of walking around including, some days, being outside and on public transit a lot. Often it is impractical for me to, say, wear boots for my commute and then change into heels, as I'll be running outside a couple times a day. So was wearing the life out of my black winter boots, but it came back to haunt me and they got soaked this morning and I was miserable. So I have a pair of flats I leave in my desk drawer that I can wear when I'm in the office.

And to make matters more awesome, the temperature in the building is insane-- one week we brought a thermometer and one office was 90 degrees. We were dying even with the windows open to the winter winds, and we asked for it to get fixed. Now it is chilly inside, sweater-weather chilly.

Soooo, I have found a few biz-cas outfits that really work for me. Corduroy, black, or khaki pants + striped button-down is one of them. Add a cardigan for chill, roll up the sleeves for the sauna rooms, and button up modestly. I dug a knit blazer out of the bottom of a stack of sweaters and it worked really well on Friday, over a nice-ish drapey top I got at Unique.

And sometimes, yeah, I try to wear makeup. But I don't really have that down, as my makeup routine is much more geared towards going out. At night I wear black eyeliner and mascara (I started wearing makeup on a semi-regular basis in Egypt, actually, where super dramatic eyeliner is The Thing), and sometimes some red lipstick to look retro. I own chapstick, a couple eyeshadows (gold and tan), a reddish lipgloss I recently stole from my cousin, and sparkly "golden sand" eyeliner. I also own concealer, which I do use pretty regularly, and bronzer and blush which I inherited from roommates and never never use. None of this seems particularly appropriate. So I've been going to Sephora after work and thinking about what I could buy that would be more versatile.

picture credits: via This is Glamorous, German model Julia Stegner by Tesh via Fashion Gone Rogue.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cross-Country Skiing in the Park

This afternoon, since it was a SNOW DAY, I got out my cross-country skiis and went to the park, via the middle of the unplowed roads! In the park the snow was fresh except for some snowshoe and rabbit tracks, but near the south end of the park I found that other xc skiiers had been there as well! There are not many xc skiiers in the city, as you can imagine, and I got a lot of comments and grins from the neighbors. I told my roommate that it was "so fun" but he doesn't believe it, and it seems he's not alone in this opinion. It's true that xc is very tiring, but once you get moving and you're nice and warm and the snow is blowing and it's quiet and you're alone in the snowy world, there's nothing better.
Maybe you have to be at least a tiny bit Scandinavian to really enjoy it. Plus you get to be sore in places you forgot had muscles.

Snow Days!

We had some major snow in Chicago, which resulted in TWO WHOLE SNOW DAYS! I didn't have to go to work OR class! It was awesome. I lay around and read, went to a bar in the middle of the blizzard (and post-blizzard), took a walk around the block to observe the neighborly helping-out, ate chili, and sat in the window to watch cars struggle in the unplowed streets.

On the second snow day, it was clear and beautiful but still the roads were not clear. I had never had a snow day here in Chicago before, and two in a row? Words cannot describe how happy I was.
It was so bright and clear as I made my way home, on Chinese New Year, no less!