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"I Drank It, And I Was Gayer"

After much debate and many tears (on my part), David and I have decided that we’re going to spend Christmas in the UK this year.  Financially, it makes the most sense for us right now and even though I’m heartbroken at the idea of Christmas without my family, I’m confident that the two of us will have a marvelous and quiet celebration on our own.

Besides travel, another indulgence we’ve cut back on as we establish our company and scrape together as much savings as possible, is that of going out for cocktails.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I love a good cocktail.  It’s not just the craftsmanship of the drink that I love, it’s the way a good cocktail bar brings people together, the way a drink and moment of eye contact can spark a conversation, and how a little alcohol can greatly enhance an atmosphere.  Cocktail bars are my third place, if you know what I mean- somewhere to call home for an hour or two, a place to make new friends, share some laughter, and then dance away from, toward home.

Now that we’re not traveling for the holidays, I feel like we deserve a fabulous, cocktail-fueled night as some sort of consolation for sacrificing one of my favorite holiday traditions: family.  These pictures from a trip to Burger and Lobster make me mighty thirsty- a perfect Manhattan with orange bitters and a twist is certainly in my future. 

top: bloody mary
bottom left: Rittenhouse 100 on the rocks    bottom right: Rittenhouse Manhattan
Photos taken at Burger and Lobster on St. John Street in London
And just for fun, here’s something I’ve had saved to my desktop for an eternity.
I don’t know where I found it anymore, but I love it.

Gettin’ My Groove On

Last week, on Halloween, my parents took us to an intimate Colin Vearncombe concert at St. Pancras Old Church.  If you don’t know who Colin Vearncombe is, let me enlighten you: he is an artist who is often referred to by his former stage name, Black.  If you still don’t know who he is (and you won’t, trust), he had a couple hits in the early 90s but his success was mostly in the UK and Europe.  Anyway, my parents are big fans of his.  His music is the music of my childhood and listening to it brings me right back to laying on our living room carpet, wearing a giant yellow plaid dress from The Children’s Place (with a matching headband, mind you), listening to Everything’s Coming Up Roses and literally imagining the world around me in bloom.  It was pretty trippy for being eight, but sometimes music makes you trip out.  You know? 

Anyway, Mr. Vearncombe had a lovely young woman named Liz Lawrence open for him.  She was genuine and sang nice songs.  I liked her voice and, from her overgrown bangs down to the tips of her Converse, she was pretty much adorable. Check her out.

And this, friends, is why I don’t take pictures at concerts:

In other music news, I’ve been listening to Solange’s Losing You on repeat for the last 12 hours.  More specifically, I’ve been watching it on repeat.  Her style is fantastic, the video is fantastic, it is all fantastic- especially her hair.  Her hair is fantastic to the extreme.  I cannot get enough. 

What are you listening to these days, dear reader?   Is there anything out there that you just can’t get enough of?  I’m always looking for something new to groove to, especially now that my studio is almost complete (eeeeek!) and I need something to help me power through the creative-blocks that present themselves when I’m getting work done.  Alone.  In my studio! 

:)

Twenty-Five

Today is my birthday.  I am twenty-five.

Here’s to a year of growth, ambition and joy.  Here’s to a year of failures and successes, a year of productivity and peacefulness, and a year of love.  To a year of meeting new friends, creating things that are beautiful and true, and learning how to put on eyeliner correctly.  And lastly, here is to another year of laughter.

It’s going to be a good year.  Cheers!

The Steeplechase of Life

A little while ago I learned that it’s easier to be miserable than it is to be optimistic and happy.  It maybe hasn’t been super apparent in this space, but I’ve been a right mess recently and a pain in the ass to live with.  Since moving here five and a half months ago (whoa), I’ve given into the easiness of bitterness and misery far too often and when I did, it was all-consuming.  It wasn’t my constant state of being, thank God, but it was a temperament I too often caved to and (this is ugly, prepare yourselves) too often enjoyed.  I learned that it’s easy to be mean, and that, my friend, is why there are so many meanies* in the world. 

Talking to a friend the other day, I listened to the words coming out of my mouth and was astounded.  When did I become this angry person with a harsh word for everything?  When did my easy sarcasm and flippancy take on a biting edge?  Who was this woman who pointed fingers of blame as an answer for her own unhappiness?

Well, whoever that bitch was, I can tell you she no longer resides here at Cox Quarters.  No sir.  I want to achieve great things in this life, I want to make this world a more beautiful place, and I’m going to do it all with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. 

So thank you, everyone, for reading this bizarre tale.  And thank you for cheering me on in the steeplechase of life; I was on a rough turn there for a while but your support has helped me through it and I’ve come out ahead.  As soon as I adjusted my attitude a few days ago, I had people reaching out to me in the most amazing ways. I’ve met new friends, taken advantage of spur-of-the-moment opportunities and have started a great new business venture (with maybe more to come).  Things are great, dear reader, and I’m not going to forget it again. 

So, back to the old me.  Let’s start talking about cocktails again.  And let’s talk about books and art and culture.  Let’s sometimes talk about style, too, because I hate that I’ve become someone who is comfortable in sweatpants and who doesn’t wear lipstick 24/7 and I desperately need to get back to a more stylish life.  While we’re at it, let’s also talk about love in all its variations and let’s have a really really really good time.  Ready? Set. GO! 

*Meanie is a real word in a real Dictionary, not, like, a second-grade slam-book dictionary.  See, isn’t the world wonderful?! 

Happy Monday

My parents are coming to visit next week which means, between sorting out the house and getting ahead of myself on work, there is much to do.  Sometimes, when my tasks seem long and tedious, I put something fun on my to-do list to make it a little less grim.  The newest addition: Put on a cozy sweater & enjoy a nice cigar in the autumn sunshine.

Can’t wait to check that one off… xox 

How Not To Behave

How Not to Behave: An E.S.M. Story

You’re dating someone with children- two sons.  You want to be accepting of them and you want them to like you.  To do this, you let a lot of things slide, like the fact that when they’re visiting the television is always on, wet towels end up on your leather furniture, and their suitcases erupt all over the floors of your tiny apartment.  These things are irritating, but tolerable.  You bring your journal and a bottle of red wine into your bedroom at night and write down your frustrations, take a few deep breaths, and then when you walk out of the room again, you’re smiling.  One night, as you’re walking to the car, the sons call shot-gun on the front seat, as per usual.  This time, your smile falters, you ask them to pause and then say, “Whenever I am getting in this car with you, I will be riding in the front.”  Your boyfriend gives you a knowing smile as you open the door opposite his and slide across the leather seat.  There’s a genuine smile on your face because it felt really good to stand up for yourself.

Eventually, your boyfriend becomes your fiancé.  You have a party with both your families and are glad to see them all cross county and ocean to celebrate your wedding.  Your husband’s sons are there, of course, and you’re touched by how considerate and sweet they are throughout the week.  You know it can’t be easy for them to see their father re-marry, so when you’re irritated by things they do, you bite your tongue.  You’re a newlywed and you’re too happy to be upset.

A couple months later, you move with your husband to his home country.  He wants to be close to his sons and you are excited to start a new life.  Things don’t go as planned, and you quickly realize your husband’s sons are drawing away from him.  Instead of addressing the challenges head-on, you become silent, do not voice any opinions, and fall into depression.  Your appetite disappears, your hands shake and you feel a great deal of guilt; you believe that it’s your presence that is pulling your husband’s family apart.  He kindly reminds you that you’re his family now, too.  You married a good man, you will get through this together.

Six months down the road, you find that you’re liking your new country, you make dreams for the future and have again found your voice.  One of your husband’s sons is going through a tough time, he tells you he has to move in with you.  He doesn’t ask, he just informs you that he’s coming.  After months of biting your tongue, you free it.  You tell him that he needs to ask to move in, that he needs to respect you, respect your home, and that the three of you need to learn to communicate better.  You tell him there are numerous challenges to this potential solution of co-habitation, challenges that range from financial to emotional and spacial.  That being said, you tell him that he is always welcome in your home and that you’ll work out a solution together, one that suits everyone.  You apologize for being upset and forward, but explain that you’ve been biting your tongue for months and months and that you, also, are working on embracing a more forthright form of communication.  You agree that you will talk about finances and all that other icky stuff the next day and then go to sleep, emotionally drained.

The next day things seem great.  You ask about a gig he has, and he answers, pleasantly.  You and your husband plan to talk with him at length that evening so you can work out a plan for the future together.  You plan to apologize to him during this later conversation, for you believe you could have said things better the night before and you want with all your heart to make sure the three of you are strengthening, not weakening, your relationship. That afternoon, you take a fourteen mile walk with your husband.  On this walk, you rehearse what you’re going to say in your head, you prepare yourself to be open and flexible.

The talk never happens.  After his gig, he says he’s spending the night at his  mother’s house.  He wants to sleep on a real bed instead of your sofa bed.  That’s what he says, anyway.  He’s had a cold the last couple days, and you think a real bed and some orange juice (or whiskey) is exactly what he needs.  You wish him well and you and your husband decide to postpone the conversation for later in the week.

An hour later, the phone rings.  Your husband answers and as soon as the shrill voice comes through the receiver you know it’s his ex-wife.  She is angry.   She’s also loud.  Your husband is on the defensive, saying things like, “Of course I love my sons,” and your eyes well up with angry tears on his behalf.  Her voice gets louder and then he’s saying things like, “Don’t say that about my wife.  You have no right to say that about my wife.”  Every part of your body begins to quake and your skin is hot like a furnace.  You can’t make out exactly what she’s saying, but when your husband says, “That is offensive, she is not a child,” you are ready to stand up for yourself.  Afterall, you’ve long believed that you are the wedge that’s pulling your husband away from his children and away from having a working relationship with his ex-wife, so you do something insane and snatch the phone from his ear and announce yourself.

“Hi, this is Kate.  I’m sorry we have to be talking under these circumstances…”  You begin to explain yourself- you’re rushing, afraid to breathe, afraid to stop talking.  You know you’re making a total fool of yourself, yet you continue.  Is this how politicians feels all the time?, you ask yourself as the angry words tumble forth.

At the end of your verbal mess, you hear a long inhale and the ever confident and condescending question is asked:, “Kate, are you a mother?”

Instead of answering with the obvious, “No, I am not,” you say something insane, “No, and that is why this whole Evil Stepmother thing is so fucked up.”

Again, that slow breath of disapproval, “Well, you have just proved everything my sons have said about you to be true.”  That is not a direct quote, by the way, but it’s pretty damn close and you suddenly feel like you’re going to vomit.  The voice on the end of the phone tells you you’re immature, childlike, ridiculous.  You are black-out angry, so you don’t completely remember, but you make a comment about her being condescending and then pass the phone back to your husband.  You wanted to make things better, but instead you made them a thousand times worse and you feel so much shame.  As soon as he hangs up the phone, you burst into tears.  Then you scream into a pillow, three times; the pillow is hot and damp with your breath and your throat is aching from strain.  Then you say many terrible things that you don’t mean because you are hurt and embarrased and feel as if you have no voice- and that the voice saying these ugly words is not truly yours.  You cry and your husband hugs you, but you do not feel relief.

Later that evening, you talk to your brother who is very patient and isn’t afraid to tell you when you’re being crazy.  He gives rational advice and listens to you vent about your frustrations.  After your conversation, you feel calmer and compose a simple email.  You don’t care what the response is, all you care about is telling the truth, explaining your objectives.  You keep it short, you keep it optimistic (which is true to your nature), and you apologize for being a total fucking idiot, though not in those words.  You say a prayer and hit send.  Then you write your feelings on tear stained pages before finally retiring to bed.  Sleep will not come easily, and when you do slip away your dreams are confused and angry. 

You wake too early the next morning, exhausted.  Try to remember:  You cannot let these things get you down.  Families fight.  Families are tough; they break and then they mend.  Promise yourself that you’ll look into getting a therapist as soon as the money comes in, and then curl yourself against the body of your still sleeping husband and close your eyes.  Do not cry about this anymore.  Pray about it, instead.

On Color

I made a salad the other day with whatever I had in the fridge- radishes, tomatoes, pickled beet root, cheese- and as I was cutting the radishes I was arrested by their loveliness.  By their crisp, clean insides and vibrant skins that shined almost magenta in the sun.

It made me wish that I could bottle colors.  I’d display these bottles, small like spice jars, on a shelf in a sunny room and watch them change as the light moved throughout the day. What colors would I bottle?  The perfect off-white of a birch tree trunk, the deep purple of an Acer leaf, and the salmon-pink of flamingo feathers.  The inky black of a cobra’s scales, the hot red of a chili still on the vine, and the stunning green of a fiddlehead.  All the colors of a peacock, and the warm brown of a buffalo hide.  There are so many arrestingly beautiful colors in the world and fashion, art, photography and words really do them no justice, which makes them all the more precious.  Notice the colors around you, dear reader, and live colorfully.
p.s. A couple months ago there was a really great RadioLab program about color called Why Isn’t the Sky Blue. Listen to it.  It’s amazing!

Country Lady

I’m falling in  love with the English countryside.  Over the weekend, the Redcoat and I wandered down footpaths, through fields and forests, and along country roads- sometimes having to press our bodies into the hedge to let a car pass by.  We picked wild raspberries and deeply inhaled the sweet country air.  We were scratched by thrones, warmed by the sun, and awed by the beauty around us.  We stopped in quiet pubs for water and cheese sandwiches, then continued on our journey with our bellies full and our mouths smiling.  It was lovely.

Fashion & Fancy

I’ve pulled myself out of a Twin Peaks mega-binge to share some of the gifts I’ve found on these here interwebs.  Enjoy! 

  • Very soon, I will be in Scotland where I will be spending time with some of my favorite Americans at the Gargunnock House.  The place is ridiculous, but the entire Landmark Trust website is full of amazing locales- from converted pigstys to palaces- that you can rent and take fancy-dress photo shoots in (or maybe we’re the only ones who do that?).  I want to visit them all! 
  • When I moved to this country and plugged in my speakers, they fried.  Oops!/I’m an idiot.  Needless to say, I’ve been looking for new speakers and am totally jazzed about the speaker design by Hidden.  The speaker looks great, [supposedly] sounds great, syncs with all your other devices, is wireless, and is chic as shit.  Add to the cool-factor that the company got it’s funding via Kickstarter- who doesn’t love a good Kickstarter success story?!
  • Fun Fact: I’m totally one of the few people on earth who still watches Project Runway.  It’s like the Survivor of the fashion world- you’re probably like, “Oh, that show is still on?” and I’m like, OBSESSED.  That being said, I’m constantly amazed by the grotesque display of product placement, endorsements, and producer manipulation on the show, and this week I was even more appalled to learn the the network actually auctions off each of the runway looks.  Sadder still, people buy these looks, and sometimes for hundreds of dollars.  This is crazy, people!  I mean, do you really want an un-lined jacket or an unfinished jersey dress that was made in eight hours for a model who is 5’10″ and 114 pounds?  I sure hope not, so here’s my idea: if you want a garment one of the designers made on the show, stalk them on the internet, contact them, give them your measurements and pay them to make something custom-made for you in fabrics that you want/like and pay almost the same amount of money as you would have spent in the auction (in some cases).  Judging by the sound-bites, most of these designers need a little extra coin, and if they’re smart/have more than eight hours free to create a finished garment, I can only imagine they’d be pleased with a custom-order from you.  Give the money to the designer, not to Lifetime.  Okay?  Okay, great! 
    Maybe the designer won’t be interested, but
    maybe they will.  You never know…
  • While we’re on the topic of Project Runway, if you’re a total fangirl/boy and you don’t religiously read Tom & Lorenzo‘s P.R. recaps, then you need to start doing it right now.  They are the Queen and Queen of P.R. and I love them.  Brian Moylan used to write great episode reviews back in his Gawker days, too, and I’ll always love him for coining the names Queen Tangerine and Grandpa Gunn but he left the P.R. world, sadly.
  • And because you were wondering, I totally want Sonjia to win.

Over & out.