2004, a space odyssey: advice for my sixteen-year-old self

I’ve been feeling kinda old lately.  I think there are a couple of things that have contributed to that.

As the severe neglect of this blog can attest to, I’ve been incredibly busy at work lately.  Surprisingly, however, I’ve been enjoying it.  I am embracing additional responsibility and genuinely enjoying it despite the extra stress and frustration that comes with it, which may be the most “grown-up” sentence I have ever written.  I have also realized that I have apparently reached the point in my life where I am no longer capable of functioning on 4 hours of sleep.  I’m finding myself irritated when I sleep in too late on a day off because I had things I wanted to do that day.  I got way, way too excited about a new vacuum cleaner — if that doesn’t say YOU’RE FAST APPROACHING MIDDLE AGE, I don’t know what does.

Elizabeth Taylor (1950)  //  Peter Stackpole for LIFE

Elizabeth Taylor (1950) // By Peter Stackpole for LIFE Magazine

I think mostly though, it has to do with a project I’ve been working on.  I’ve kept a journal in some form or another probably since I was 12.  Most of the very earliest ones I destroyed in a fit of embarrassment after reading them a few years later, but I realized recently that starting from when I was sixteen, I actually have a pretty thorough record of my life, albeit one scattered across handwritten notebooks and dying websites (looking at you, Livejournal).  I decided to compile everything into one place so they could be read through chronologically when I am feeling particularly nostalgic or narcissistic.  Some of these I probably haven’t reread since I originally wrote them nearly a decade ago.

There are parts that are predictably hilarious but what was sort of startling was how sad and confused and just totally LOST I was at certain points.  I don’t remember feeling particularly like that during the time, but it’s pretty hard to not recognize when reading through them now.  At the risk of sounding completely cliché and ridiculous, there were certain periods where reading what I wrote made my heart ache for my lonely, naïve, drifting younger self.  I didn’t have any older siblings to give me some straight-talk advice, and I really could have used it — and I started thinking of all the stuff I would tell myself if it were possible.  Since I haven’t posted in months, I figured why not make a blog post about it?  Here’s what I came up with.

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upgrading my old and/or cheap shit, vol. 1: necklace + basic sweater = fancy sweater

It’s basically a joke to post this in the same category as Zuhair Murad’s devastatingly gorgeous dresses, but I don’t know what else to include it in, so fashion it is.  I am failing pretty hard at a bunch (though not all!) of my resolutions for the year, so I am absolutely determined to post a few times this month even though this is sort of a cheap shot.

Basically, the biggest issue that I have with my wardrobe is that it is primarily old and/or cheap.  I am on a super tight budget and honestly, clothes aren’t really a priority for me.  Video games and takeout apparently are.  This becomes an issue when it comes time to dress myself like a twenty-something pseudo-adult instead of the 14-year-old Dorito-monster that I am inside.  I open my closet every day to a huge pile of clothes primarily from H&M and Forever 21… purchased about three years ago.  Now, don’t get me wrong — I do have some nice things, mostly because I have a large family that is generous enough and in the position to give me nice gifts occasionally.  Fortunately most of the time I do make reasonable decisions when I have a bit of extra cash or when I am able to use a gift card or something (shoes not withstanding) , so I do have some decent quality basics.  But let’s be real, sometimes “classic” just means boring.  Sorry.  It’s true.

So essentially, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to make my old stuff look shiny and new and exciting again.  That was a long-winded introduction to what boils down to a single selfie taken at work with my computer.  Clearly I have not gotten the hang of this blogging thing yet.

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This accidental-yet-winning combination started when I was running late and inadvertently put my necklace on tighter than I usually do.  I found that it perfectly covered the neckline of my old, good-quality but pretty boring sweater that I’ve worn to work probably three or four times in the last three weeks because it’s colder than a witch’s tit here.  Boom!  Instant fancy sweater!  I am also wearing leopard print shoes which I thinks helps with the otherwise basic status of this outfit.  But you can’t see them in this picture, obviously.  So you’ll have to take my word for it.

Okay, I told you this post was kind of a joke.  Does it make it more real if I tell you where my old/cheap shit is from?  Real bloggers do this, right!?

Sweater:  French Connection circa 2008
Necklace:  Forever 21
Awkward Face: c/o taking selfies in my office with the door open
(ON MY LUNCH BREAK, if my employers see this)

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zuhair murad designs the most beautiful dresses in the world, full stop

I have been wondering for a few days what to write about, as I’ve been a bit overwhelmed at work and feeling quite uninspired, a trend that seems to be carrying over from 2013.  Probably hasn’t helped that Chicago has been mind-numbingly cold.  I don’t usually mind winter too much, but it’s been a bit depressing.  So basically, I haven’t felt like I’ve had anything to share.

Until today I discovered the most beautiful dresses I have ever seen.

I’m interested in fashion, but not so much that I religiously follow designers or fanatically check photos from runway shows.  I mean, especially haute couture — I won’t be wearing any of it, probably ever, so sometimes it feels a little silly to look at.  So I hadn’t heard of Zuhair Murad before, but when I saw photos from his F/W 2014 Haute Couture collection, I actually gasped out loud.  Part of me felt like actually crying because these dresses are so completely perfect.  I was so overcome that I actually just sent a Facebook message to his page to tell him all of this.  I’m sure it will mean a lot to him that a random 20-something girl in Chicago is practically weeping over his dresses instead of finishing her work so she can go home on a Friday night, amirite?

Honestly, there’s nothing I can say to do Mr. Murad’s beautiful creations justice, so I’ll just leave my favorites right here.

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Just mind-blowing, right?  It was hard to limit myself to just these, I have about 20 more saved on my computer.  These are my absolute favorites, I love them all, but the last dress is literally the single most gorgeous dress I have ever seen.  I realize again that I will never even see these beautiful creations in person but these deserved to be shared.  Zuhair Murad is truly an artist.  I just… wow.

You can see the full collection on his website, and I really recommend you do, because all of it is absolutely stunning.

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goodbye & good riddance, 2013

HNY

I’m so glad that stupid year is over.

I’m not really a fan of New Year’s as a holiday (although I did actually enjoy the party I went to this year), but normally I love the idea of starting ~fresh~ at the beginning of the year.  In fact, I usually love it so much that I will wait to begin new, positive habits until the beginning of at least a new month.  For some reason, this year I’m just pissed off and mad.  Maybe it’s because I’m stressed with large work projects that won’t be finished up until next week, or maybe it’s due to some frustrations in my personal life, but I have never been so happy to see a year end, even though there were a lot of good parts of it.

I know a lot of people hate resolutions, but I also usually love those.  They involve two things I truly enjoy — making lists and fantasizing about how wonderful of an adult I will absolutely not turn into over the course of the new year.  So, in an effort to snap myself out of my funk, I’ll go ahead and list them here — if only to look at them next year and laugh at my fruitless idealism.

Shit I Will Almost Definitely Not Accomplish in 2014

  • Quit smoking real cigarettes (I will allow e-cigs)
  • Work out regularly so my gym membership isn’t a total waste
  • Finally finish the worst goddamn book in the world (Ulysses) so I can take an honest crack at Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels list
  • While I’m making resolutions about lists, I would also like to start watching AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies list
  • Pay off my credit card debt (almost certain not to happen unless I win the lottery, oops)
  • Write at least 2-3 blog posts a month — if I can’t manage this I need to give up on blogging finally I think
  • Take a photo a day

I guess we’ll see how it goes.  I hope the maybe one person who reads this had a great New Year!  If I can stick to my resolutions, I’ll actually be posting more than once every other month, so hopefully I’ll be back sometime later in January.

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FTS: adult acne (+winter skincare)

Welcome to the start of a new, probably sporadically updated series on this blog called Fuck That Shit.  Today’s topic is adult acne, how much it sucks, and how I am kind of winning the battle against it, maybe.

After several months of not knowing what the hell to write about, I finally got inspired after seeing Anna’s post on Door Sixteen about her struggles with breakouts as an adult.  This is actually still slightly embarrassing for me to publicly admit, but this is a blog, I guess my whole schtick is going to be “realness” and no one reads this anyways so whatever.  This will probably be a long post because this is kind of a traumatic topic for me.

I started breaking out at the ripe old age of 11.  It was horrendously embarrassing for me because I was an tall, shy, awkward tomboy with a bad haircut and gap teeth anyways, and pimples made me feel like even more of an ogre next to my tiny, glowing-complexioned classmates.  I dealt with this by viciously scrubbing my face every night and fervently hoping that I was the only one who paid enough attention to see the blemishes popping up everywhere.  One memory that is burned into my brain is a kid in my class singing a nasty little song about pimples to me.  I actually punched him as hard as I could in the side of the head partly because I had a violent temper but mostly because I felt like if he didn’t stop, the only thing people would see when they looked at me was a giant zit in place of my head.  He did shut up and no one ever said another word about my skin so I’m glad I punched him.  Still, the illusion was shattered — people definitely noticed my skin, even if they didn’t tease me about it again.

Over-the-counter medication didn’t work.  Prescription medicine didn’t work.  My dermatologist told my mother that my skin “wasn’t bad enough” for Accutane.  Antibiotics did help some, but my mom refused to let me take them long term, which was probably a good idea but fueled my angsty middle-school rage towards her.  She felt so bad for me that she bought me my first foundation, and when I was 13 I started wearing a full face of makeup every single day.  I tried to avoid things like swimming and fun, worried that my carefully-daubed mask would float away.  I grew my short haircut out because if you walk around looking like the girl from The Ring, people will think you’re a weirdo but probably won’t notice that you’re a pizzaface.

Basically me in middle school, except blonde and with bangs.

Basically me in middle school, except blonde and with bangs.

My skin remained mostly the same throughout high school and college, and I just kind of accepted it.  Acne was part of my youth, and that sucked, but obviously one day I would magically evolve into my adult-Allyson form and my skin would be perfect (apparently my perception of growing up was heavily influenced by Pokemon).  Except that didn’t happen and that’s bullshit.

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a whirlwind trip: memphis, tennessee

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Memphis for work.  It was my first time visiting, and unfortunately because it was work-related I only had an hour or two to sightsee.  I wish I had time to visit Sun Studio or even Graceland, but all I had time for was a quick walk down Beale Street and a rapid-fire tour through the Rock & Soul Museum.

I used to take pictures everywhere I went, but I fell out of the habit sometime after I graduated from college.  I’ve been wanting to get back into it, so I used the trip as an opportunity to take along my camera.  I’m definitely pretty rusty, but it’s nice to actually have some photos!  Hopefully I’ll get a chance to go back someday and do the city justice.

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