I recently found some of my old artwork from college. And by “found”, I mean drove to the house of my roommate’s parents, and took them home to my house. The art, not the parents. Why my artwork wasn’t moldering in my own parents’ house, I can’t tell you. All these years I knew I needed to go get them. I planned to go get them. And I thought, when I get them, I’ll flip through them, remembering those idyllic days, and then toss them in the trash. But, you know what? I actually was impressed by some of the pieces. Impressed by my talent and also the talent of my professors who managed to extract something not-bad from that young artist-to-be. Now they aren’t masterpieces, they’re homework assignments. Exercises, practice pieces. But they all have a certain something. A somewhat satisfying quality that seemed to be innately me. Of course they aren’t all the work, in all media, that I produced in those four years, just a mysterious collection that got separated from the rest. I didn’t even major in Fine Art or Painting but Photography. So here is a small random collection of work that I did all those years ago.
The first thing I realized this morning, the first day of 2024, is that I needed a new calendar. I made this real quick and printed it out and will hang it on my fridge. Feel free to download and print it yourself. I used 13 x 19 paper but you could reduce it down to fit letter.
Happy New Year!
I recently learned that rainy days aren’t so bad if you have rainwear you love. Last year I bought a new raincoat and I’m excited when I get a chance to wear it. I had a raincoat but it’s not very waterproof — kind of necessary for a raincoat.
My original coat is from J. Crew from Spring of 2019 and I still like it. It’s the shorter of the two. A cotton-nylon blend. I love the dark moss color. It’s lightweight and fairly stylish. You could even wear it if it’s not raining. It’s cute.
The new coat is by Joules which I bought on Amazon. It’s polyester-cotton with a cotton-nylon lining that has a very pretty floral pattern. It really repels water and definitely keeps you dry. The hood even has a little visor.
Now, rain boots. I have a pair from J. Crew that are very minimal, black rubber in a sort of chelsea boot style. They’re not terribly comfortable, like I wouldn’t want to wear them all day. But they get the job done.
Then I have a classic pair of tall Hunter boots. Remember when people decided those were cool? I got some about 10 years after that, second-hand. They are great when it’s just bucketing down. But if you’re not slogging through puddles on a country walk with your dog, do you really need them? I say no. You definitely don’t want to wear them for long or drive a car in them.
If it’s wet but not aggressively raining, I will wear my green rubber gardening clogs, because, you know, clogs. They’re by a brand called Nora.
I also have my Doc Marten‘s which are not for rain, but won’t get ruined if it’s a little rainy. They have that really stiff, shiny leather.
If I were to get a new pair of boots, I’d get these from Everlane. They look really cool. I would replace the J. Crew ones with them. But for now, if it rains, I’m all set.
I got the Dr. Martens 1460 Mono boots back in October. After going through all my boots to assure myself I did not need another pair of boots, I started to think maybe I did. There was one style I really loved and kept thinking about: the black, chunky, lug-sole boot.
I asked for a some for my birthday and received a very nice pair of black lace-up combat boots with side zips. They were really good but too small in my usual 8.5 size. Lisa Vicky Promise boots: Nordstrom Rack
Then, I was in Nordstrom Rack and saw the Docs. They were on sale for $120 (originally $150) so I snatched them up. I did have doubts. First of all, the leather was very stiff. I wondered if they weren’t real leather. They are. But they seemed oddly plastic-y. I read a review that said they take a while to break in. You’re not kidding. I suffered a bad blister because I wore them with socks that were too short and the top edge carved a hole in my shin! Also, I wished they had a side zip so I don’t have to lace them up every time I put them on. I kept the first pair for a while comparing and contrasting them with the Docs and ultimately decided to just keep the Dr. Martens.
The sizing was a little tricky. I am almost always an 8.5, but Dr. Martens don’t come in half sizes. I went down to an 8 and that even felt quite roomy. But 7s would have been too small. I accepted that they’re a little big. I have room to wear thick socks. (I tried adding an insole but that made them too tight.) Now that they’re broken in a bit, I am happy with them. They are perfect for winter, keep my feet warm, are very rain repellent, and are comfy for walking. Dr. Martens 1460 Mono boots: Nordstrom Rack
I do want to share that I think the Dr. Martens 1460 Mono boots might possibly come in a different kind of leather. The ones at Nordstrom (not Nordstrom Rack) seem to be in a softer leather based on the reviews. Dr. Martens 1460 Mono boots: Nordstrom
They are also available direct through the manufacturer. You could get them there for the same price as Nordstrom. Dr. Martens 1460 Mono boots: Dr. Martens
So, I am very happy with my decision. I always wanted a pair of classic Dr. Martens. I remember when I first saw them back in the 90s in a store in San Francisco. I could not afford them then, besides, I wasn’t sure I could pull them off, if I was punk rock enough. I still worry I’m not cool enough for them. I do think they look good. And they’re surprisingly easy to style. I kind of love them with everything. I will also mention that until I heard about the “mono” I was hesitant with the Docs because I wasn’t crazy about the signature yellow stitching. The mono boots have black stitching. I suppose I should have explained that at the beginning. LOL. I learned this from Brittany Bathgate and originally considered getting the oxfords she has. Brittany Bathgate YouTube shoe review (timestamp 13:45) | Dr. Martens 1461 Mono oxfords: Dr. Martens
It’s been about 6 months since I did a book roundup…I have read some amazing books lately.
The Last Thing He Told Me
I just finished this one. I sped through it in about 3 days which is crazy. I never read that fast. If you’re looking for a light thriller, page-turner, this is great. Written by a woman with the two main characters being women. Very satisfying.
I checked this out from the library using the Libby app.
How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are
Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas
This was a gift from my lovely friend Jen. I had seen it when it came out but never bought it. What a treat to get it in the mail. It’s not a book-book, it’s more like a compilation on musings on being French, from Paris more specifically. Parts were enticing and beautiful, others … pretentious and a bit annoying, kind of like Parisians. But overall, it was a nice diversion.
The Paper Palace
Miranda Cowley Heller
My daughter picked this to read for school and it turned out to not be appropriate for a 13 year old. Oops. Heads up, it could be triggering. I did like it though. The prose, the setting. I could relate to the main character. (Reece Witherspoon book club pick which guarantees a female lead and writer.) It gave me Where the Crawdads Sing vibes as well as Commonwealth, things happening to kids that shouldn’t and a good amount of family disfunction. The story flips back and forth between present time and 70s/80s when the protagonist grew up, from New York City and Cape Cod. Again, not for kids.
This is maybe cheating since I haven’t finished this but I thought I’d add it in. I’m almost half way through it. As you could guess, it’s about greek mythology. I personally love the subject matter. I thoroughly enjoyed CIRCE. But this is more of a text book, but a text book that really make the lives of the gods and goddesses super fascinating. I thought I knew a fair amount but am really getting a thorough reeducation. By the way, shout out to Mr. Cave, my 7th grade latin teacher, who made Roman and Greek history and mythology interesting. In and of itself but also since our language and culture has been built upon it.
The Origins of Our Discontents
I LOVED this book. No surprise it has been so glowingly reviewed. It’s amazing. I wanted to tell everyone to read it. Like, stop what you’re doing and read this book. I don’t think there is a more important, pressing topic right now. It explains that racism, or more accurately ‘Casteism’, is the framework our whole country is built upon. But, I think a lot of people are just not ready or able to take in this amount of truth. I think a few people I know might just get very defensive. That makes me sad. I have so much respect for Wilkerson for the hard work it took to compile this as well as the creativity and talent to write something so easy to get through. If you’ve been thinking of reading it, I think you will really enjoy it. And you’ll never be the same.
this is how it always is
I don’t know how I found this book. Someone recommended it. It is a fictional account of a family who navigates their child’s desire to transition from a boy to a girl. I think It’s a difficult thing to understand and sympathize with if you’re not going through it yourself. Society as a whole has a long way to go. Frankel does a beautiful job of bringing us along for the ride. We learn about all the psychology, logistics, feelings and struggles involved. It’s just so beautifully depicted. And written. And it’s not just a book about being trans. It’s about family and marriage and friendship and honesty and choices and love.
My friend Lauri passed this book on to me and it was perfect. I really like a story of women, families, secrets, pain and redemption. Recommend!
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Can you believe I’ve never read this?! My friend was referencing it and so I had to go back and read it. I’ve read Naked and When You Are Engulfed in Flames and adore Sedaris. This one is so good.
I find that the weather can really dictate my mood, and my motivation. If I don’t see blue sky or sun for a while, I feel … not good. So, when that happened recently, I thought, maybe there’s something I can do. I sat down and wrote this list:
Some of these things are obvious and I do them fairly regularly. But some of them surprised me. Like, where did that come from? So I know these things help improve mood, but the thing about a cloudy day is I forget about all the things that can make me feel better. I need to remember to use them when sluggishness started to settle in. And the sooner the better. Usually taking simple action works well, like taking a walk. And, the more often I do these things, the easier it is to do them.
Since I work from home, which I love, don’t get me wrong, I need to find excuses to get out of the house. I also need to connect with people (other than the three I live with.) Calling a friend is super helpful. Seeing them in person is even better! Making plans with your people is so, so important. I think we all learned how important human connection is after being deprived of it during the pandemic. I can’t make plans with someone, I usually go out by myself. I highly recommend strolling through stores just to look at stuff. Or better yet, an art museum.
Exercise is also essential. Luckily I’m already in a good habit of prioritizing workouts. Usually I do it first thing in the morning. Right now I have a routine that I walk the dog then I go for a longer walk by myself. On some days I do Jazzercise from home. I started doing Jazzercise on-demand at the start of the pandemic and I love it. Don’t judge my old lady workouts! They’re awesome. When the days get shorter and colder and I’m less willing to go outside, I have to really make myself get outside. I know it makes a big difference in my energy level.
I definitely believe in vitamins. I just never remember to take them. Not only are they good for physical health, they are good for mental as well. Studies have shown that calcium, chromium, folate, iron, magnesium, omega-3s, vitamin B, vitamin D, and zinc all help to boost mood. I take Garden of Life but there are obviously many to choose from.
Adding light, artificial light if it’s cloudy or dark, is supposed to regulate circadian rhythms (like your body’s reaction to light and how it effects energy). I got therapy lamp a few years ago to help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). “Symptoms of SAD include loss of pleasure and energy, feelings of worthlessness, inability to concentrate, and uncontrollable urges to eat sugar and high-carbohydrate foods.” – Harvard Health Blog. I’m not sure if the one I have is good or if it’s making a difference but I thought it was worth a try. I find that turning on lights and lighting candles can also make me feel better.
I found it really interesting how many things on my list were sensory. Flowers and candles – sight, music – hearing, perfume (and flowers, and candles if they’re scented) – smell. Enlivening the senses can make us feel more alive. So often people are tempted to numb out to combat depression; bingeing on alcohol, sugar, social media, or TV. Feel less. I never realized that feeling more could be much more effective.
The idea of buying myself flowers is very new to me. So is wearing perfume. I think I got my new love of fragrance from my daughter who is constantly asking for essential oils, candles and perfumes. It feels very indulgent and I’m surprised I haven’t allowed myself to enjoy it more before now. I learned a lot about happiness and self-care from reading The Year of Living Danishly. Lighting candles, drinking hot tea, listening to music, setting a mood. How did I not know about these things?
It’s so easy to get caught up in doing all the things. We feel compelled to clean and work, to take care of others and be “productive.” But if we’re feeling down or tired maybe we need to take a step back, slow down and do something that really creates beauty and wonder. Maybe a cloudy day is just the universe saying, your to-do list just got a lot shorter.