Paris street style

Paris is my recurring (day)dream. I love the Sex and the City episodes An American Girl in Paris (Une et Deux!), I’m silly for YSL Parisienne, Last Tango in Paris is one of my favorite films of all time (Marlon Brando at his best!), I took French in high school, I use the Fotopedia Paris app all the time on my phone, which has the Eiffel tower as my background forever. Not only all of that, but Parisian women have fantastic style. I’ve been preoccupied with searching blogs all day for the best in Paris street style, and here’s what I came up with.

I think that part of awesome Parisian street style has to come from being inherently French, but I’ve noticed a few trends: Long, tousled hair, big scarves, black tights, cropped leather jackets and black bags with bold hardware. I’m also obsessed with Style and the City – it’s all in French and they also have an app for iPhone which I’ve been having so much fun with. There are zillions of pictures and you can watch them to your own music and totally geek out on street style. Oh emm gee!

surrender some more.

The best thing about Mondays? Vlogs from my spiritual teacher, the amazing, luminous Gabrielle Bernstein. This week she returned from a trip to Brazil to see her guru, and came back and opened yet another new vein of wisdom for me. I always feel so energized and inspired whenever I take the time to connect to her, and take the time to meditate and delve deeper into my spiritual self. Best five minutes you can spend – promise!

“When you’re ready for that shift, and you fully surrender, all the guidance that you need to receive that change will show up for you.” Another new acronym that we learned – WAIT: “Why am I talking?” Be quiet, talk less, listen more, not only to others but to your inner voice. I think being humble is a great message to spread – and start putting into practice today.

Love & light – V.

are we OVERsocial?

O, Technology! You silly banana.

So my recent (albeit trepidatious) forays into Twitter have led me to wonder about some things. Now, it’s totally obvious that this day and age, a large volume of our connectedness comes via the Internet. It’s been this way for awhile. Everyone has Facebook (preceded by Friendster and Myspace, which in 2009 laid off more than 30% of its workforce), most people have smartphones, everyone who’s cool Tweets, you have WordPress, Tumblr and Blogspot to choose from for blogging, the business minded connect with LinkedIn, social media is a rapidly growing marketing method, the lonely meet on Match.com, the photographers have Flickr…the list goes on. We “check in” when we visit a hip bar or venue (or even at mundane places, too), and we update our status and Tweet from every imaginable place, even the bathroom, often last thing at night and first thing in the morning. There are seemingly countless portals by which one can enter and connect with friends and like-minded people, and to photos, music, video and information. Or at least that’s the idea.

I’m all for the age of communication and instant gratification. I admit that find it gratifying when someone “likes” my Facebook status right away, follows me on Twitter or best of all, comments on my blog. It’s validating, and it feels like you’re really…well, connecting, hopefully in a positive way, sending your message into the world. But something happens on the days I know I spend too much time scanning my Facebook/Twitter feed, or keep my email open all day long (only to receive special offers from my favorite retailers..alas!). I feel a bit antsy. If I don’t get a reply right away, it’s like I’m just waiting for the next incoming thing. Before I know it, hours have passed and I’ve been just idly scanning the doings of other people, rather than focusing on my own. I know I’m not the only one who does this. As an example, who can forget the episode of The IT Crowd (Series 3, Episode, 5, Netflix it asap!) in which the gang gets addicted to the fictionalized “Friendface.” It pretty much sums it up.

Perhaps I just need to learn better time management skills or obtain some self-discipline, but what I’m getting at is this: The more “social networked” I get, the more disconnected I feel. I can’t decide if I should post a picture to Instagram or on Facebook, or text it to a specific person – or should I Tweet at them? Email attachments are so last year. I’m kind of an old-fashioned girl, and I’m comparatively new to the smartphone realm. It is my personal belief and observation that if you’re not careful, the Internet can rot your brain and shorten your attention span. And we all know the perils of multitasking. (Worst case? Nothing gets done. At all. Which is why it’s no surprise that many workplaces ban social networking websites altogether.)

The whole thing kind of got to boggling my brain, the more I thought about it. As someone who is striving for inner balance, how does one achieve this in a technology driven society? How can we stay connected and still feel human? I have observed the effects of my own attention span dwindling as I scan through tweets and posts. This 2009 New York Times article affirms my suspicions. (I second Lady Greenfield.) And that, friends, was in 2009, the year I showed up late to the Facebook party. How things have changed since even then. And this article on bNet confirms that our online interactions do in fact lead to a chemical reaction in our brains that make us addicted to the responses we get.

So what are we to do? In the day and age of almost everyone being online in some presence or another, how do we decide what social networking sites get our time, and how do we best manage that time? What are your thoughts on social networking? What outlets do you use, and why? How do you choose from the cornucopia of choices available? Would you say you are “addicted” to social media? And what impact does social media have on your actual life?

I’m curious! Please share. 🙂

let’s skip the charades…

I can’t get that song by Cold War Kids out of my head.

Why not take a minute and share ten images that inspire me? Let’s go.

One.

Two.

Three.

Four.

Five.

Six.

Seven.

Eight.

Nine.

Ten.

And, while you’re here, you might as well take a look or a listen to this song if you don’t listen to the radio, cause it’s good. Song of the summer maybe!?!

I want to write, but I can’t.

It seems never-ending. The cycle continues, over and over again. I am lost without my art. A creative person is always creative, but without a connection to his or her art, one will become slowly unhinged, and so I have.  I keep finding myself trapped in the same loop, like a record skipping. Caught in between desires and shameful lack of motivation, I find myself here, at my keyboard, berating myself again for not doing what my teachers always told me to do. Write, write, write. Nurture your passion, nurture your love, the thing you are good at, the one damn thing that everyone told you that you were the best at your entire life. What have I traded it for? A decent job that I don’t hate and a half-inflated social life consisting of shallow first dates and beers out with friends once, maybe twice a week. Why is it so impossible for me to do what I’m the most passionate about? What’s stopping me from bridging the gap between a wannabe writer and a legitimate one?

An empty document and blinking cursor are insurmountably daunting, as any writer can attest. During the day when I can’t channel them, my thoughts are at their most potent, and creative. They are fireflies on a hot June night. Later, I’m the eager child, struck by their elusive beauty, running clumsy and barefoot on the dewy grass, mason jar in hand – trying in vain to capture them, to make them last, to preserve the spontaneous magic of a brilliant thought. Only when they are finally in my jar, captured, they somehow don’t shine as brightly. They are only simple creatures, not magic at all.

There are a thousand things that move me. Yesterday on the way to my hike I thought of them all. What inspires me? Endless blue skies, polaroids, heart shaped lenses, the impossible white of my cat’s paws, to name a few. What infuriates me? Deception, when someone belittles me, hold queues, traffic, bad hair days. Inspiration is so fleeting though, and it’s so easy to get caught up in the trappings of ordinary life. An unpaid bill, a broken heart, the fact that it’s simply easier not to.

I miss the quiet of my life before the internet, before life sprang boldly through the ether, before the images of socialites and global tragedies struck the screen. I want the blank document back, the distraction-free zone sitting on the ergonomic chair, tapping gloriously away at a story of my own making. It didn’t matter if it was juvenile and it didn’t have to change the world. All that mattered was that it was my own story, a bud that I had allowed to blossom on its own. I miss it miss it miss it. Give me back my late night keyboard taps. Give me back my inspiration. I’m calling on you now, writer-soul. I want you to make a comeback as a grown up. You’ve learned twenty five years of life lessons. You’ve steeped in the chaos and heartache of existence for long enough. It’s time to catch some fireflies – and watch them actually glow.

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

For those who don’t know who Diane (pronounced Dee-an) Arbus was, here’s a quick rundown: She was an American photographer/writer noted for black-and-white photographs of deviants, circus freaks, transvestites and other marginal members of society. She tragically took her own life in 1971.

This film, however, directed by Steven Shainberg, doesn’t attempt to satisfy any curiosity about Diane Arbus’ (Nicole Kidman) short and brilliant life. It rather, leads the viewer “down the rabbit hole” to a fantasy world. Fur is artfully styled and directed, down to every last detail settling the tone for the 1958 backdrop. Costumes and sets are impeccable. One does beg the question: Where is this film going? I was hoping for more of a glimpse into Arbus’ life as a whole – but the in the film’s special features, the creators explain that the premise of the film was to create the “imaginary portrait” to give a theoretical source for Arbus’ first forays into portrait photography. Her muse is a former circus “freak” named Lionel (Robert Downey, Jr.), and is for much of the film, concealed by creepy cloth masks reminiscent of The Strangers or looking uncannily like the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. On her discovery of self, deep inside Lionel’s at once whimsical and eerie lair, she encounters a dominatrix, a handful of dwarves, a tall man and an armless woman. Such “oddities” are to be symbolic of Arbus’ later draw to the type of people traditionally left unexamined and outcast at the margins of society.

A fetishized attraction quickly glowers between the Diane and Lionel, drawing her up and away from the duties of family life – husband Allan (played by Ty Burrell) and two children. Having lived as a young and privilege housewife/assistant to her commercial photographer husband, Arbus feels the inevitable draw of her own untapped talent, which for essentially the entire film, is masquerading as misplaced lust. Adulterous love does not in itself make one an artist, but the end implies that Arbus has found her calling, and as she mourns the suicide of her beloved friend. The film ends on an unresolved note. At times bittersweet and oddly sexual, some might find it compelling to watch, but are left craving more insight into the life of a remarkable artist.

Check out RottenTomatoes for other takes on the film. It wasn’t popular with critics. That said, I think it was a well-intentioned, very watchable production which fell flat of achieving any lasting purpose.