Friday, January 30, 2009

I'm making today a Music Day.






"Last Goodbye"

When I heard the Scarlett Johansson covered Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye," my first thought was, "Oh no. No, no, no, no, no. No." But after listening to it, I kinda like it. Thoughts?



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When I Grow Up...


I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that. ~Lloyd Dobler (played by John Cusack) in Say Anything


Someone brought up this quote yesterday and it made me think.

Instead of thinking of all the things I don't want to do, my mind has been filled with all the things I dream of doing. My ideas are as vague as Lloyd's, but I'm trying to hone them.

I know some people cringe and reach for the hand sanitizer at the thought of spending hours at Goodwill, but nothing thrills me more than digging through other peoples' junk and finding buried treasure. Maybe, as-is, the item is no charmer, but with a fresh coat of paint, some new fabric and a staple gun, the item could come straight from an Anthropologie catalog.

One of my favorite shows on HGTV is FreeStyle. The designs on the show are hit-or-miss, but the concept speaks to me. When you live among your own things for so long, you start seeing them in only one way (this happens all the time to me in my own house). But bring in fresh eyes, and your whole room/house could be entirely reimagined just by mixing up what you already have.

This concept is also true in fashion. You buy a top and you love it. It looks great with your favorite jeans, so that's how you wear it. You loan the top to a friend who wears it an entirely different way...suddenly you realize all the possibilites the top has and it took your friend's fresh take on the item for you to realize it. There is a company called White-Starr Aesthetic Counseling, and they are basically closet organizers times infinity. They have you try on all your clothes and they help you evaluate everything. Haven't worn those pants in 10 years? See ya! The color and fit of that dress are fantastic but it's a bit too long for your height--so get it hemmed three inches! After they've helped you wade through your wardrobe to find all its potential, they take you shopping to help you find classic pieces that you can wear for years. They're like your own personal Clinton & Stacy, without all the TLC cheesiness. (Caveat emptor:Their time and the clothing they pick out is not cheap...not ideal for the average twenty-something.)

What I love to do is a hybrid of all these things. I love facing the challenge of a limited budget and exploring all the possibilities that are so often overlooked. Maybe digging through the thrift store rubble is my way of compensating for never becoming my childhood dream--an archaeologist. And maybe stretching a budget is my way of compensating for my parents' dream for me--being good at math. Either way, just thinking about these things thrills me to the bones, and I'd love to tumble all these things into a career.


Eeep...this was like a really long, rambling cover letter to apply for a job that doesn't exist.

Does anyone else have ramshackle dreams that you've woven or want to weave into a creative career? Does it happen? Can it happen? Can it happen without having to pay to go to design school? Sigh...

Monday, January 26, 2009

East Shore Athletic Club (ESAC), Wentworth St. location, is the worst gym EVER.

OK...I'm not normally one to use my blog as a soapbox for rants and raves, but I have absolutely had it.

I have been a member at East Shore Athletic Club (ESAC), Wentworth St. location, since June 2007, shortly after they opened. Since I joined with two skirt! co-workers, they gave us a group deal...$5 off the monthly fee. Cool!

I loved the gym...I liked the machines and the instructors (it's the smallest of their locations, with the fewest machines and classes). There was an option to become a member at all locations for a larger fee, but Wentworth's location was most convenient since I live and work downtown, so I didn't see any need to join them all. I used my membership off and on for a year. After that year, my two co-workers decided not to renew their memberships (smart ladies). I, however, was not so wise. I had started attending yoga regularly and loved the instructor. Also, I found a workout groove: I could leave work at 5 and do cardio on the treadmills until the 6pm yoga class. They also added lunchtime yoga classes on Thursdays and eventually Fridays. So for a while, things were great. I renewed in June 2008 for another year.

Then, with no warning (actually, I think it was about two days warning--only because our yoga instructor had heard the news and passed it on to us) EASC signed a contract with the College of Charleston to allow all students free membership to all ESAC locations. The Wentworth location borders the CofC campus, and where do you think all the college students (especially those living in dorms, without cars) are going to go to the gym? So, out of nowhere, the EASC location (the smallest one, with the fewest machines) is FLOODED with college kids, and me, a paying member, now has to stand around and wait for a treadmill or elliptical to open up. Most often, no machine would open up in time, so I would just have to stand around till 6 to go into yoga. After a while, I just stopped going to evening classes because it was so irritating. However, I kept going to the lunchtime yoga classes. They were such a great break from the workday. After a few months the instructor told us that Friday classes were cancelled, due to a decision made by someone in charge at ESAC.

Suddenly, all the little irritating things that I had ignored started bothering me...they are really bad at answering phones. They never inform members about changes (i.e., telling them that hundreds more people will now be joining the gym FOR FREE and not offering any other options to paying members). There is no good communication between ESAC employees and non-ESAC instructors (i.e., my yoga instructor) so if you call to ask about a class, no one will know the answer, so they'll pass the phone to three different people and all give you a different answer.

Late last year, the yoga instructor I like informed us that she was going to be going abroad and no longer teaching at ESAC. When she was replaced by another instructor I'd heard horror stories about from when she taught at a different location, I stopped attending all-together.

About a few weeks later, I get a vague email from ESAC (from a Yahoo! address?!) about there being a problem with my account and to please bring a voided check to the front desk. Seeing as how this was right before Christmas and I was out of town, I got sidetracked and forgot about the email. I got a second email with the same message last week. Then, when I picked up mail from my old landlord, I found that apparently the direct withdrawal from my account wasn't going through to ESAC and since this had happened for two months, I had $60 in charges! Despite the fact that they had my home and work numbers on my contract, not a single person called--they just depended on vague, automated emails to do the trick.

I went by the East Shore location today to speak with someone about the situation. I haven't had low funds in the past few months, and even if I did, I have overdraft protection. I assumed there was just an error somewhere.

After talking with a manager(?), it turned out that I hadn't signed up my checking account to remove funds, but that I signed my debit card to it and I had recently gotten a new debit card. Being the airhead that I am, I didn't realize that a debit card's numbers change with each new card. She and I laughed off the mistake, but then she told me I'd still have to pay the extra $60 in charges. I explained to her that I'd been a client since the gym opened and that I'd never had any issues before, so could those charges be removed, just this once? Her response? Nope. Then I asked if those $60 could go to a gym cancellation fee. Her response? No. Why? BECAUSE YOU CAN'T CANCEL YOUR MEMBERSHIP. You aren't allowed. Unless you MOVE OVER 50 MILES AWAY OR DIE, that is. Seeing as how my name is in the masthead of skirt! every month, I doubt I could play the, "Oh, yeah...I AM moving" card. Or, I could "give" the rest of my membership to someone else (though they still have to pay) for a measly $25 fee. Anyone want a membership to the WORST gym on earth? Come on down!

Not only that, but when I asked her what is done for people who are dissatisfied with the service, she acted shocked. I explained the issue with all the students being on the machines when I like to work out, and she informed me that it's very early at 6am. Never mind that I already have a morning routine...I should just adjust my schedule to work around a bunch of kids who get in for free.

So now, after writing them a check for two months of membership plus $60, they get my membership fee every month until the middle of June...a great reward for them and a kick in the head for me.

I assume full responsibility for not updating my address and for not realizing that debit cards' numbers change with each new card. But the fact that they are a customer-based company and they don't provide an OUNCE of customer service is disgusting. Obviously they are hurting for money and that's probably why they took on all the College of Charleston kids. However, it just seems to be the worst way to do business. What happens when the College of Charleston finishes their shiny, new gym and all the students go back? If this is how you treat the people who have been there since the beginning, who are you going to have left then the kids leave?

Hopefully, no one.

East Shore...YOU SUCK.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Tudors



Given my love for historical fiction and period films, I can't believe it has taken me so long to watch The Tudors.

I'm three discs into the first season and the rest of season one and two are lined up in my Netflix queue.

The opulence of the costumes is to die for:


Since this is a Showtime program, there is a lot more sexy time than most historic dramas portray, but I guess since it's a historical fact that Henry VIII enjoyed the ladies, it's probably not that much of a stretch of the imagination.

Is anyone else a fan of the series? I can't wait to watch more.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Coldplay, "Life in Technicolor ii"



This music video is awesome and hilarious.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Noble Beast


Image from Indie Muse.


Andrew Bird's album, Noble Beast, is released tomorrow! If you buy the deluxe edition, you get a 2-CD set...the second CD, titled Useless Creatures, is entirely instrumental.

Stream Noble Beast over at NPR or visit his website to listen to Useless Creatures. Trust me, you'll want to add these to your music collection.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Things I want to do to my house and other decor-related ramblings.

I want to paint my dining room table white:

I want to do this mostly because I looked around the house the other day and realized that it's becoming very traditional. Also, I'm bored. Also, the table doesn't match the chairs and was a $30 Goodwill find to begin with, so if I screw up there's no big loss.

I want to un-Shabby Chicify this piece of furniture I got from Craigslist:

I want to paint it a crisp slate gray and actually use it as a console table or entry table until I find a better option (i.e., stumble upon an alternate cheap piece of furniture at Goodwill). I think the slate gray will bring just the right amount of variety to the entry.

I am also looking for a 5 x 7 or 5 x 8 rug to go in the entry to bring some color in there! We bought this rug from Pottery Barn to bring in some color, but it was too small so we moved it upstairs to the bathroom area. I used to hate orange, but I love this rug so much and really appreciate now how well it works with blue and how fresh it can be. I want this exact rug in a larger size (think of how great it would look with the slate gray secretary), but it seems weird to have two of the same rug in the house.

Basically, I'm trying to unify the house a bit more. I keep searching through images, trying to narrow down exactly what my decorating style is. You can read more about my dilemma here.

I love mid-century modern furniture. I love the Shabby Chic look but with more color (i.e., the "Anthropologie" look). I love the beach house/island look the most, but it seems strange to decorate that way when I live in the middle of a city (albeit a city on the water, near beaches).

But I really think I was designed for the island life. Open, airy, rustic rooms with a smattering of color and spontaneous placement of oddities.

India Hicks, lifestyle and design goddess, lives my dream every day:





Images from June/July 2007 domino.

Not to mention that her life seems to be perfect and her baby daughter (age 1, aptly named "Domino") starts making my biological clock tick overtime:





Images from February 2009 Cookie.


She lives in the Caribbean with her partner (David Flint Wood) and their four children (Felix, Amory, Conrad and Domino) in a place called "Hibiscus Hill." She was a model, she's an heir to the British throne, she's the host of Top Design, her father was David Hicks, possibly the king of the interior design world in the '60s and '70s, and she is AMAZING. For fun, she and her man renovated an old inn, which is now a super-swank hotel. How do I get this life? I know, I know, you have to be born into this kind of luxury.

Oh yeah, back to my house...

500 Days of Summer



Have you heard about this movie?

Here's the premise: The film tells the story of the relationship between a woman, Summer (Deschanel), who doesn't believe in true love and a man, Tom (Gordon-Levitt), described as a hopeless romantic, who falls in love with her. Over a span of 500 days, it is told from the perspective of Tom, who is influenced by pop music and breaks out into song throughout the movie. (Thanks MTV.com!)

Here's Joseph Gordon-Levitt's take on his character:

“He’s a hopeless romantic, a lovesick young man who falls in love with [Zooey's character] Summer, and he gets dumped. The thing is, the movie is all from the point of view of this guy, and this guy has watched way too many movies and listened to far too many pop songs. So his life becomes a pop song.”

I know this probably isn't the most mind-blowing plot, but I think it could be the perfect summer film (releases July 24). It's a romantic comedy and it stars Zooey. That's great in itself, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also pretty adorable and a great actor. To cap those things, I've read on some blogs that this film takes cues from Annie Hall and High Fidelity. All of these factors could either make this movie a new favorite, or disappoint me so much that I bitterly turn my shoulder on Zooey and Joseph and never look back. Let's hope it's the former, rather than the latter.



Thursday, January 15, 2009

Oh My, My, Maya...




Does anyone have any suggestions for keeping a one-year-old dog occupied (who gets regular exercise and has great toys, such as the Kong Ball, etc.) so that she doesn't get destructive?

I need some KILLER ideas, before Maya gets banished to the kitchen for eternity.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Heima.

When it's chilly outside like it is today in Charleston, I like mood music. I'd like to share some great chill-in-your-bones mood music with you:







Do you feel the Iceland in your bones yet?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Coco avant Chanel





Are you getting excited about this film? I know I am!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Quarter-century



Today I am a quarter of a century old. It's strange that 25 years of my life have passed, because I still feel like a little kid in so many ways. I still sometimes feel that I lack the common sense, quick wit and wisdom that being an adult, being in a career, being in a relationship, requires.

As much as I make fantasy wish lists filled with stuff and things...another pair of shoes and another ruffly dress...I also have a fantasy wish list of what I want for the next (at least) 25 years of my life:

* The courage to voice my opinion, despite fear of disapproval or judgement
* The fairness to not judge others harshly
* The ability to listen, and not always have to be in the center of things
* The openness to meeting new people and building friendships
* To nourish a relationship with myself, to make certain that I'm growing as an individual
* The ease to not have to worry about the future, but also not give up on the things I know I want for the future of my life
* Accepting criticism and being able to laugh at my mistakes
* Continuing a friendship with my parents, sister and other family members


Let's see how many of these things I get...


Oh, and here's a birthday party favor. It's Birds in Warped Time II, composed by Somei Satoh and performed by Anne Akiko Meyers: