Monday, May 31, 2010

Today's Huh? Moment.

From CNN's article on energizing:
"9. To find the juice to de-clutter your surroundings: Picture a tidy space
Clutter is a great big drag on your energy -- and not just because of all the stuff taking up space. "So much of what ends up as clutter are tasks that we haven't finished or obligations we haven't been able to meet," says professional organizer Emily Wilska, founder of San Francisco--based The Organized Life. "Who wants to be in a space where there are constant reminders of things you should be doing or aspiring to?"
Wilska suggests mind-mapping to get motivated: Clip pictures from magazines and write down snippets or words that describe your goal -- "I want an organized living room so I can invite my girlfriends over for our book club." Then post them on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, or on your computer desktop as a reminder of where you're headed."

Um. Did this not just contradict itself completely?
Nothing will remind me faster that there are things I should be doing or aspiring to than pictures from a magazine of perfect rooms, with "goals" written on them. Who indeed wants to be in a space with constant reminders strewn about, especially if they are unrealistic reminders designed to nag? I know that I can learn to make lace from my lace bobbin kit sitting by my couch. I know that I can't have an immaculate living room with pretentious furniture and knick-knacks with no personality--and I wouldn't want to.
I admit I am a person with clutter. Lots of it. I have always lived in small spaces--small, boxlike bedroom, including storage of things that aren't mine; single dorm room with community bathroom across the hall; efficiency apartment. I also have a lot of stuff; I have a lot of clothes, but it also seems like I have more than I do because my closet is miniscule. When things are stressful, I have trouble keeping my spaces tidy, and I only really notice this when people come to visit.
I like my clutter. I like hidden storage, and I like for things to have a place, but I don't mind when my books aren't lined up straight, or when I have clothes to put away. Recently I've found that I like the look of a (halfassedly) made bed, even if I am not that keen on sleeping with my sheets and blankets that way, but that is one of few concessions to tidiness. I would like more space, but I'm not going crazy in my small, cluttered space with projects all over.
It's my stuff. I like it where it is.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I love Sofft

I interrupt this Twilight discussion to bring you my new shoe purchase.

I've mentioned before that I love Sofft, having fallen head over heels (though fortunately not literally) over my red T-straps. I noticed Dillard's had a few pairs of Soffts out on its 70 % off racks, and went searching in my size. Sure enough.
I did not hesitate. Not one second. I dropped my bags, untied my sandals, and made sure they fit, and then bought them. What a steal! They are black, as you can see, with a floral design stamped in the sides. They look best with jeans, though I am currently wearing them, as a test drive, with a long black skirt. I don't usually wear clogs because I turn my ankles in them (as I do with wedges, but not normal high heels), but these have a semi-normal heel, which makes all the difference. Hearts.
I had quite a shopping day Tuesday at Franklin Park. Having just gotten out my summer wardrobe, I was well aware that I didn't need more clothes. I unconsciously decided instead to look for accessories, which I hardly ever do. My sister is much better at that than I, and more discerning. But along the way, I picked up a cute clutch, some rings and a bracelet, and some other odds and ends. It was a smashing success. And these days, you can bring beverages into stores, so I wandered around with a cup of chai. Decadence.
I also had a weird moment as I was leaving Dillard's. I NEVER pay attention to the designer sections in department stores. I can't afford the stuff, even if it is excellent quality. But the Antonio Melani section is now right near the restroom, and my attention was arrested by this dress and this one. I'm not sure why--they seemed fun, and were a beautiful pale gold color. Ladylike and unobtrusively glamorous. I managed to escape before any salespeople found me and tried to influence me, because it wouldn't have taken much. Sometimes I tell myself, "I could make that," even if it isn't true!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Twilight, pt. 2

On a similar note to the partnering similarities, I was also struck by the sexual tension of closeness in Twilight. Sexual tension in itself is alluring; we often bemoan that moment in our favorite novels and TV shows when that thread between our favorite characters is suddenly and irrevocably loose, after it has been taut for aching ages.

But in Twilight, that taut thread isn’t just a smoldering substory, it’s almost the entire point. (In fact, this cause for Twilight’s success makes me tentative about reading the other stories, because I’ve read spoilers and plots that indicate it’s not such a theme.) This is about physicality, and it’s one for those with strong empathy.

Most of Twilight (as it seemed to me while I listened) took place in that tiny space between barely touching and touching, that breathless gap. In fact, fixating so closely on breath is in itself a good sensory trigger, since any indication of airlessness is immediately felt—you know how when you think about breathing you suddenly feel like you can’t breathe enough? That is Twilight. Consider all the mentions of smell, for instance, or forgetting to breathe. While a lot of the descriptions of smell were clunky, they at least maintain the connection to air, and the reader’s sensory memory of it.

Physical nearness, not quite touching, but close enough to raise hairs, plays a bigger role. A reader is better able to “feel” this than actual touching in a story. Touching is very specific to individuals, and harder to feel through empathy. We may not have been touched in the same way; we may not be able to relate to the touch being experienced, the textures and pressure of it. But if the characters in a story are NOT touching it’s easy to feel because, after all, the reader isn’t being touched either. It’s much easier to imagine almost being touched. It works for the same reason suspense in a horror film does—we are more afraid when the character can’t see the monster yet, because if there is an ax murderer near us, we can’t see him either. It’s the pressure of absence that builds up. I am in the camp that loves the torture of almost-there almost as much—and sometimes more—than the there.

Actually, I think this is part of the reason why the book appeals so much to women in my age group. Not many of us take the time to almost touch anymore with our significant others. We don’t take the time to torture each other with not touching or barely touching, to let our breath be taken away by it for ages. Edward running his nose along Bella’s jawline is particularly evocative to us because we can remember that painfully delicious moment when someone did that to us, and many of us miss it, at least at that extreme, extended level. The idea of women needing more foreplay than men is an old joke, but it is not so much about foreplay here as the enjoyment of the physical responses we get out of torturous nearness. It’s drawing out the “turning on” and making it the focus, making it never stop.

As I listened to the audio book, I found myself shaking my head and chuckling out loud at some of the descriptions (the reasons for which I’ll explain later). Yet I can’t deny I had a physical response to Twilight. I have a very strong empathetic memory, and as I mentioned I’m partial to the torture of touch and almost-touch. In that regard, at least, Twilight worked on me!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Twilight, pt. 1

As the school year ended, it was time to get back into the sewing room, which meant I needed an audio book. It so happened that I discovered Twilight on the shelf at the local library; I hadn’t read it yet, and was meaning to, so it seemed like an obvious fit. Half of my friends are obsessed with Twilight, and another quarter of them have read it, so I’m really the last to the table here, I know. I prefer that, in some ways, since enough time has passed that their impressions have faded out of my memory.

In our 1100/1110 courses, we teach a “Searching for Causes” essay—trying to uncover the best cause of a trend or phenomenon. One of my friends actually teaches the essay through the lens of Twilight’s popularity. The students don’t always believe that this is a real process people go through, but I had to laugh as I was listening to this book and, in my head, uncovering reasons that people are obsessed with this book, especially women of my age bracket.

Let me say that I’m not obsessed with it; I enjoyed the experience, and I will likely pursue the other audio books when they’re available (they’re all checked out at present). Still, I am not sure if I will see the movie or not, and I don’t feel compelled to buy anything. I’m not caught up in it as I was with, say, Harry Potter. At the same time, I can understand the allure from many perspectives, and as I said, I found enjoyment. I also experienced several other things at the same time this was going on that dovetailed with my Twilight foray. So, these next few blog entries are my reflections on Twilight.

As I was patchworking turtles together, examining my reactions to the book in progress, I realized that part of the attraction is the same reason why I like dance partnering.

No—really. I’ve written about this before. Partnering is the biggest demonstration of trust that I’ve experienced to date, requiring as it does being lifted into the air, perhaps tossed, perhaps flipped upside down. There is weight sharing and touching, often in places that otherwise would be completely inappropriate. It’s a fantasy, a confection. You aren’t really in love with your dance partner (probably), but you frequently pretend you are, and you are certainly in love with being picked up, embraced, touched, made to feel precious, airy, and even protected (those arms, after all, often the only thing that keeps your head from smashing into the floor). Of course, the reality is that partnering is difficult, requiring intense strength, control, and balance, and it isn’t as romantic in its beginning stages. But once everything is smoothed out, the fantasy is there.

I was reflecting on this recently while I was watching my favorite dance piece probably ever. Jiri Kylian’s piece Petit Mort is perfect: Simple in costume and staging, complex in musicality and arrangement of the body. When I see it, I stop what I am doing and stare. He uses the piano music to its best effect, eking out every nuance. And it is romantic. Title notwithstanding, the partnering in this piece is silky and sensuous. It is everything partnering should be; it also gives the man body positioning just as beautiful as the woman’s, which is rare. Usually in romantic ballets, the man is a set piece. Not so in Kylian’s work. He cradles and supports, but also makes his own body into an instrument of action and thus the bodies are a shape together, incalmo, as the Italian glassmakers say.

The shapes and the touching of Petit Mort were present in my mind as I listened to Twilight. In both, there is an evocation of closeness and breath that makes me sigh out of instinct. I am not saying that they are of equal quality—Petit Mort is genius and Twilight is merely entertaining. But the fantasy of Twlight is, after all, two bodies impelled through space, each compelling the other, just as the fantasy with Petit Mort is being a partner in that intricate rendering of sexuality through dance, being lifted physically and spiritually, and made utterly precious.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Oh Dear Frock Grosgrain Giveaway

The Oh Dear Frock Grosgrain Giveaway
Cuteness! I got on to this blog via another friend, and I love popping in to see what frocks are appearing. I also love that they are identified as frocks!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

You ever have one of those experiences where you've been thinking deeply about something for a while, and have come to a realization, and then you read that very same realization someplace else?

From CNN: "Consider a choice you have to make -- anything from which movie to see to which house to buy. Instead of weighing pros and cons intellectually, notice your physical response to each option. Pay attention to when your body tenses or relaxes."

I've been feeling a huge sense of dissatisfaction lately. I don't know how much of this is chemical and how much much health-related and how much life-related, in other words. But I have been trying to think about what would make it better, what direction I should go in. I've noticed that, while many ideas have flitted through my brain, nothing sounds good or right. I don't want to do anything somehow. I haven't hit on the right idea. And I can tell, I realized, because I get a feeling of "no" in the pit of my stomach, a sort of revolt, whenever an idea comes up, no matter how great it looks on the surface. I know part of it is just exhaustion and burn-out, but not all.

For instance, I was considering doing an online library studies masters. I was doing research in the programs available online, and I just felt depressed about it. I would love to work in a library, amidst the books I love, but doing so via one of these programs is just not striking me correctly. I don't know why. It seems like such a no-brainer. But my gut says no.

So, when I read that on CNN today, I had to laugh, because as much as I'm a pro-con lister, I have been focusing on my intuition lately to try to solve this problem. Consider my mind read.