27 July 2009

mad men yourself.

(click to enlarge picture of me with my boyfriend Don Draper)

You can Mad Men Yourself here.

i can't hear an ice cream truck and not think of this.

Want a lick? Psyche!

the perfect bike embroidery pattern.

Embroidery Pattern Freewhelin' Bicycles

A case for Twitter: Sublime Stitching provided me with a link to these amazing bike patterns from Polka & Bloom. I was inspired by the Scandinavian inspired patterns as well. As if I didn't already have so many great project ideas on tap (including this + this). Good thing there's a month left before school starts and I have nothing else to do before then but pack and sell my car and move and find a job.

22 July 2009

top 5, uk vacay edition.

5 places I loved visiting:
1. Burghley Hall.
2. Westminster Abbey.
3. Cambridge / Madingley Hall.
4. Cardiff and Caerphilly.
5. Various National Trust houses and beer festivals that were great enough to get lumped together.
Honorable mention:
I have a feeling I'm going to really love seeing Holkham Hall tomorrow...

5 reasons I'm excited to go home:

1. Materially, getting to hide my PC laptop away and revel in the glory of my iMac and getting back on my bike. It's been too long, my Old Dutch Treat.
2. Big changes are afoot- I am hoping to be CAR FREE and living in Philadelphia in three weeks or so.
3. I'm stoked about trying out my "living with other people and not as a recluse" skills that we've been working on.
4. The pound is freaking expensive!
5. How could I not be excited to see the cute niece squad and the rest of the fam and to talk to all my peeps again?

5 great shopping finds:
1. About a bazillion pairs of cute socks from Tesco.
2. Gray trench coat from Primark in London.
3. 100 year old coffer from Maidwell's.
4. Makeup from the Benefit counter at the Boots in Cambridge.
5. A comfy pair of butterscotch yellow heels and a watch from Next.
Honorable mention: The freebies that come with magazines.

5 reasons I'm sad about going home:
1. I've grown very attached to two little dogs who love to stand on my chest and lick my face at random intervals throughout the day.
2. I have cherished having the time to put myself back together before I start my next big endeavor. Thanks to Mom & Don for giving me the space and support to do that.
3. We've laughed, we've cried, we've watched at least 20 episodes of Eastenders- I've loved spending time with my mom. She's an amazing woman, and I have enjoyed being reminded that she knows me pretty damn well.
4. Life in the country is actually kinda nice. Animals and flowers and wide open spaces- squeal!
5. British dairy products. Need I say more?

14 July 2009

reflections on "the way 'we' live now."

David Brooks' column really got me today. I have been following the Sotomayor confirmation pretty closely because I've found it all together horrifying. The questions mustered under the euphemistic concern over her "identity"- her race, ethnic heritage, and gender (pick your construct!) have angered me deeply. Is this the America I live in? Why is her racial identity an issue when John Roberts' wasn't?

So I've been mad because it's so out of control and as a homeless person I can't open the safety valve with a quick email to my elected representative (Utahns, do you know what your senior senator has been up to today?). Fortunately the Brooks column helped me to see a different side of things. He looks at Sotomayor's biography and says, yah, it's an awesome American story about civil rights coming a long way, but also, "It’s the upward mobility story — about a person who worked hard and contributes profoundly to society, but who also sacrificed things along the way."

Brooks then goes on to catalog Sotomayor's relationships throughout her life- an extended family as a child, mentors, friends, and a spouse as an adult. This was the part of the piece that really hit me. Excuse the lengthy quote:

"This isn’t the old story of a career woman trying to balance work and family. This is the story of pressures that affect men as well as women ... It’s the story of people in a meritocracy that gets more purified and competitive by the year, with the time demands growing more and more insistent.

These profiles give an authentic glimpse of a style of life that hasn’t yet been captured by a novel or a movie — the subtle blend of high-achiever successes, trade-offs and deep commitments to others. In the profiles, you see the intoxicating lure of work, which provides an organizing purpose and identity. You see the web of mentor-mentee relationships — the courtship between the young and the middle-aged, and then the tensions as the mentees break off on their own. You see the strains of a multicultural establishment, in which people try to preserve their ethnic heritage as they ascend into the ranks of the elite. "

I wish I didn't feel this so deeply. I'm not pretentious enough to say I'm apart of the "elite" or to seriously self-identify as "a high achiever," nor am I naive enough to think that these strains are limited to those of a particular educational level or class attainment. But, I can say wholeheartedly that I have felt what Brooks describes, and to see it on 'paper' freaked me out, but it also gave me a lot of comfort. Particularly when I consider the crazy semester I just finished, where the work I loved started to feel like my undoing and I struggled to negotiate my role as a "mentee," it was nice for someone in the world to point out that yes, this is common.

Brooks concludes powerfully that in Sotomayor's story, "You see the way people not only choose a profession, it chooses them. It changes them in a way they probably didn’t anticipate at first.... You don’t succeed at that level without developing a single-minded focus, and struggling against its consequences."

Every time I read that quote, the tears come right into my eyes. I don't think I ever could have comprehended how consuming graduate school would be- the development of my single-mindedness was for me a somewhat painful process. It happened as soon as I started my program, as I confronted what it meant to miss my nieces' birthday and how little time and energy I had to manage the significant issues I had with my faith. It wasn't that those things quit mattering or that I became immune to the sting I felt from them, but like pioneers chucking stuff out of a wagon to lighten the load, I learned how to tune stuff out that wasn't right in front of me so I could handle the tasks at hand. I think that's been the craziest part-- somewhere between those heartrending first couple of months and the moment towards the end when moving east didn't seem like such a big deal because it felt like the only deal. It's still something that's constantly being reconciled, but I would say by and large, at some point the consequences stopped feeling sad and ultimately I've gotten to the point where doing what needs to be done so I can do what I want to do makes me really happy.

Nobody told me that that would happen.

(Brooks doesn't talk about the happiness element much, but that's what this article made me think about. Being successful isn't entirely about surrendering relationships as he runs the risk of implying, but man, you do learn how to become happy spending time with yourself).

the deco woman.

Today I discovered the artist Tamara de Lempicka. I am such a huge fan of art deco- it has so much character to it, and really, how could you not drool over the world depicted in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day? I love too what the Deco woman represents- an ideal of liberated, athletic beauty, beauty that was so controversial that the flapperismas in Mexico were even physically attacked for transgressing traditional gender norms. I instantly fell in love with the dark, sultry, intriguing, clean-lined allure of Tamara de Lempicka's art. I think it's divine.

13 July 2009

a random sampling.

I don't usually do this kind of stuff, but I found it kind of entertaining. This is based on my iPod's holdings, which is closer to my master iTunes library on my desktop at home than my laptop here. Laptop iTunes was consulted in spots due to the limitations of the iPod.

Number of Songs: 2841 (I'm guessing 100 or so are unchecked on the home computer so they didn't make it onto the iPod)
Number of Albums: a mystery! do people really listen to albums anymore?
Most Recently Played Song: Pachebel Meets U2- John Schmidt (cheesy much?)
Most Played Song: Feel Flows- The Beach Boys

Most Recently Added Album: Tiny Cities - Sun Kil Moon and Ten - Pearl Jam

Most Recently Added Song: Ain't Nothin' But a G Thing- Dr. Dre

First Song Alphabetically: ABC- Jackson Five
Last Song Alphabetically: Zvezda Rok-n-Rolla (artist's name in Russian) from the Everything is Illuminated Soundtrack
Smallest Song Numerically: #1 Crush- Garbage
Biggest Song Numerically: 8675309- Tommy Tutone

Shortest Song: Pagoda's Theme- The Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack (I'm guessing my desktop would bring up something from Gone With the Wind's soundtrack) (:23)
Longest Song: A version of Dvorak's New World Symphony No. 9 mixed with nature sounds, by The Relaxation Company (24:33) (a Buzzard's $2 special)

First Full Album Alphabetically: Affirmation - Savage Garden (this is getting embarrassing)
Last Full Album Alphabetically: XO - Elliot Smith
First Full Album Numerically: 13 Going on 30 soundtrack
Last Full Album Numerically: 100% Funk

First Five Songs That Pop Up On Shuffle: Leaving on a Jet Plane- John Denver, These Days- Nico with The Velvet Underground, Hawai'i 78- Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Wonderwall- Oasis, Save Me From Myself- Christina Aguilera

is it getting hot in here or is it just me.

It's almost that time of the year again! Yay for Mad Men!

I'm just glad I'll have something to fill the tv-sized hole in my heart left by the BBC. It's hard to see how I'll live without Inside Nature's Giants, Casualty, and Eastenders*. Maybe I'll start a PhD program so I'll have something to do...

*can somebody tell me if the BBC player works outside the UK? I have a feeling the Christian & Said plotline won't be resolved on Eastenders before I leave! If it does work, though, you can watch the whole season of Casualty before the finale next Sunday! It is so good!

10 July 2009

you know, for kids.

Esteemed COTGB Readers:

I love my brother.

I love Fat Tire beer.

I love bikes.

I love hats.

I even love kids.

Big Brother has ingeniously found away to fuse all those things together in a raffle for the ages. Please get thee to the Tacoma Bike Ranch ASAP to get your name in the hat- literally- to win a handmade piece of American folkart of the highest degree of craftsmanship.

If you aren't interested in checking out the hat, but would still like to give, you can donate to the Mary Bridge Children's Foundation and Big Brother's Courage Classic bike ride to help stop the cycle of child abuse and neglect directly through this link. Thanks for your support!

05 July 2009

names, memorials, masculinity, and femininity.

The Paper has been a hotbed of soapboxing for historians and historical causes the past couple of days, undoubtedly as a means of giving the journos some down time. For example:

It's nice to see the Gray Lady turning the holiday into a public history opportunity. Like Christmas in July for some folks, really- but hey, we could all use a little distraction from this mess.

the show.

I heard this song in a club in Cambridge a few weeks ago and it's been stuck in my head ever since. Now it can be stuck in yours too...

03 July 2009

freedom is the only way, yah.

Wishing you a happy Independence Day from the land of "absolute despotism."
May we all honor our liberated heritage by "opposing with
manly firmness... invasions on the rights of the people."

And of course, make sure you take a minute to thank a Vet. Freedom isn't free.