don't stop //don't break // you can delight because you have a place
A bit chaotic, my thoughts right now. A big decision that I'm not ready to share looms large, weighs my thoughts, and pulls me back and forth. I'm trying to balance an unknown future with an inextricable present, testing the unknown armed with what wisdom I can muster and a great deal of uncertainty. I am thankful at times like these for instincts, for close friends who know me so well, and for prayer.
And yet at the same time I find myself thriving with ideas, exploding with thoughts that cram around me, pushing me with the palms of their hands, drawing my hair aside to whisper in my ear and elbow their way into my everyday. The sensuality of embodiment, the possibilities of living online and of that being an authentic realisation of selfhood; the doors of the cage I found myself in have been torn open and like some brilliant coloured bird I fly out, I find myself ecstatic as I roam amongst lush realities, amongst tangible imaginations.
My words can scarecely keep up with this multitude of thoughts and I sing, I can't stop singing, and Word documents litter my desktop like hasty scraps of paper. There is a release in this writing, a year of pent-up, almost-there-but-not-quite realisations.
I have burst into life.
I would ask for your forgiveness for my unforgivable poeticism but only poetry can capture this rapture (rhyme. Tick that box. You could play find-a-trope with this post if you like. Two points for alliteration, half a point each for metaphor and simile (I use both a lot, thus they are worth less in this little game.)
I could ask for your forgiveness but I won't, because it's in times like these that I breathe only through poetry and I won't apologise for it. I won't apologise for being an unbridled romantic nor for the intoxicating sensuality I experience in words as they crowd around me. No, never.
With closed or bright eyes, I danced inside his words, inside the realm of his songs, subsumed completely by his music and by the joyous, chaotic recognition of my heart.
I want to feel this forever without end, this needing inhalation of beauty and the death-defying truths of shared experience. This passion, this wonder, this devastation, this delight.
I crave everything in the world and beyond, into the unchartered territories of imagination, so close, so tangible and yet so invisible to me now like the air around my body. And o, how my yearning reaches through the windows and doors he threw open before me the night before last!
Thinking today about the self- about my self- about selves online. My expression of myself to you is mediated by the keys my fingers are battering (one, two, two fingers, too fast), by the backlit screen where I see the Blogger interface and if I look closely in a poorly lit room, where I see my face, indistinct, just a hollow of my eyes, the line of my nose. Thinking about how I can not think about something I put online- a too-personal Facebook status update that betrays the chaos of my thoughts, or photos taken at 4.30am which offended someone who was perhaps anonymous because s/he is a close friend who doesn't want me to know they were offended or who is simply reticent to be linked to their discord- thinking about how that not-thinking might affect someone else. How it might affect me.
Thinking about how this blog is a part of my self, a creation of what I like to look at and a free-roaming run of my thoughts as they run through my fingertips towards your gaze, straight into your mind where you might reject them or incorporate them into castles of your own or where they might be stored somewhere between an article you read last Tuesday and that thing that you needed to tell your sister.
I am intoxicated by the flow between corporeality and words, between ideas and flesh, between my embodied self sitting here in a cafe, listening compulsively to The National and wondering vaguely how abstract I can be in my theoretical writing, and my self as enacted here online, no less authentic for being realised in words and pixels and cyberspace (wherever that is, whatever that means.)
Musing on the simultaneous unity and fragmentation of selves- I can be me and not me at the same time. I can not feel myself, can not like myself, can adore myself and want everyone to know it, can want to change and not know how, can be completely unmindful of me, can feel like there is no 'me' just a blend of matter within other matter, can only see myself in the world and no-one else: what changes in these perspectives but perspective? How essential is essentialism when you think of your self? Am I me and not you because my embodied self is distinct from yours? And what about when I feel your pain from a distance and know something is wrong without being told by you? And what about when we have the same thought and speak it at the same time? And what about when I feel so unified with everyone around me, all experiencing the same event (though perhaps in different ways, though perhaps the same) and I am not just me but I am you and them and all of us contained in one place?
So it morphs, this thing, and it changes my perception. Not just my thoughts about selves and blogging but about myself and how and why I blog. About you and how you ingest me, in a manner of speaking, when you read this.
So that's what I'm thinking today. It's not really tied to fashion as such but lingering behind it all are thoughts of the T by Alexander Wang jumper I saw at Incu the other day and can't afford. The lack of it around my limbs makes me feel chagrin. And so there's that, too.
This is the first pair of gloves from my collection I wanted to show you. Today was swelteringly hot, disgustingly, drippingly, revoltingly hot so the gloves with inbuilt airflow made the most sense. Plus their cream and macrame weave vibe is hitting my throwback-to-the-Seventies mood just right. (Long cotton skirts? White lace? Hair parted in the middle? Broad brimmed hats? I'm feverstruck.)
How to style these pretties so as not to look like part of the Church Ladies' Guild was another matter. Wearing full vintage with them is definitely straying into milky tea and homemade shortbread territory, whereas they're too delicate to shine with a mismatched ensemb. So I played it straight down the line. A bit of white lace vintage offset by the tackiest and most delightful handbag I own- a red satin and sequinned heart-shaped mini-audiere from Topshop. It has a diamante clasp. Say no more.
O and red matte lips courtesy of Ruby Woo, my favourite M.A.C.
vintage gloves // vintage top // Topshop mini-audiere //
So let me catch you up while my brownies bake. I want to master making disgustingly gooey brownies. As in, this-sludge-is-slooping-down-between-my-fingers-so-I-have-to-lick-my-hands-clean kind of gooey. And as I stood in my kitchen beating the eggs I whipped my hair to Powderfinger's Vulture Street; I haven't listened to '(Baby I've Got You) On My Mind' since I was seventeen and flushing with first love, sitting on a beach and making up constellations to make him laugh. So it was the perfect choice for tonight, really.
And o, how much we've missed! I burned my hand, did I tell you? I was cooking (again) and a wave of boiling oil leapt out of the pan as I flipped a broad bean and zucchini fritter and it was as painful as you're imagining right now. As I stood with my temple against my bathroom wall, cold water pouring over my crying skin, I wondered dimly how I suddenly became accident prone at the strike of 2011.
Did I tell you I'm giving Roland Barthes another go? I've even found that slowing right down to peer at things from his perspective has helped me see structuralism a whole new way. The old way, if you care to know, was hard to make out through my groans and eye rolling. Yet his writing shines light on fashion imagery on style blogs in the most delightful ways and even though Stella told me that Barthes later became a post-Structuralist and renounced most of his earlier work, I'm going to stick with it for a while longer. Well, for as long as I can before the Library recalls it again (Short Loans are the bane of my existence.)
In other news, my list of blogs to read rolls on and out of control, pages of scribbled poetic titles that have been scrapped together to sing a new tune: 'Dandy Gum' and 'Antichristopher' and 'Luna Supernova' and 'we the people.'
And reading Mrs Dalloway is drawing me into dreams of writing a novel on the side. There's a guitar plectrum on my table in the perfect matte lipstick red and the fragrance of brownies is swelling through my entire apartment. The wind is combing the leaves outside, it is a beautiful, beautiful night.
I've been here, I've been reading and overhauling my thesis outline to help my ideas shine. I've been here, reading. Writing. And geez, I haven't even shown you my vintage glove collection yet (heck YES! They are the most (to say the very least*)) nor have I shown-and-told you about my first ever Surry Hills markets adventure where I found a Lisa Ho blouse which is basically the lovechild of Chanel Haute Couture and a mime. You know you want to see that, right?
I have a feeling that 2011 is going to be a grand year.
Sometimes I feel like dressing eccentrically just because. I look at the clothes sprawling out of my wardrobe and I think 'what if?' What if I wear striped pantaloons underneath a slinky, cutaway skirt? What if I wear the ultimate dress-down outfit of an I Heart NY tee and blue jeans and throw a vintage fur stole over the top? What if a scarf becomes a turban and a belt becomes and necklace and a dress becomes a coat? On those days, dressing is a whole other ballgame all together.
Like last Sunday when, dressing for a study day and catch-up at Bek's, I felt all Fifties all of a sudden. So a pleated peach cotton Scanlan and Theodore skirt became a crinoline underneath a vintage sundress I got in Toronto. I wove the sash strings into a belt and tucked my favourite scarf (a vintage Hermes carre from the Marches aux Puces in Montmartre. It is beyond beautiful) over my shoulders. Little Chairman Miao loved the ensemb (or me!) so much he kicked back for a blissful sleep.
Textures and a kitty.
Avoiding my structuralist philosophy, I instead opted for a chubby book of photos on Bek's bookshelf, which is really a ladder and all of the books are ordered by the colours of their spines. Her house is my ultimate dream-home, hands down. I'm taking photos of the interior next time so that you can join me in the hand-wringing, heart-busting lust of it all. Anyway, the book was on the shifts that popular fashion went through in the 20th century starting with the Edwardians and working forwards, and I took photos of my favourites for you, just for you.
I love that it has fitted little sleeves which act as a visual contrast to the meringue/Grecian party raging down her torso.
This is the (then) Charleston world champion and doesn't she look great? Look at how sensible that heel is! I feel like no other major designer besides Miuccia Prada would touch a heel that size and shape these days but it's so cute and chubby in contrast to her little glittering dress.
I looked at this girl and just though "BLOGGER." But it's from the Twenties! Can you see it though? Very 'The Clothes Horse.' The cute cloche, the big beads, the rosette brooch, and the FACES on her TIGHTS. We Love Colours would have a field day! The book said that the face was her lover's who went to war- incredible.
I want to be able to dance like this.
One thing that occurred to me whilst flicking through this (oh, who am I kidding, I scoured and devoured every page!) that some clothes photograph better when the wearer is still (see first photo- wouldn't motion have made her look like she was holding her bedsheets up around her while she cast around for her clothes?) and some come to life when the wearers are dancing- the Charleston dress practically shimmies itself right out of the frame. A deep observation, I know. On that note- bakin' time!
Some people, when they can't sleep, read or drink milk.
I do this.
The scene: way beyond 'late' and into 'early' on a night too fragrant to be wasted with sleep. There's a coolness in the air and the night waltzes past my window in the arms of the midnight sky. I tried to sleep, I did, but no sleep could I summon to me.
The players: me.
O and guess what came today? O yes. Ker-slice.
And so it ends, at 4.56am, with no answers (where have you disappeared to, unstoppable deep sleep?) and ever-increasing befuddlement.
And now I'm craving cake.
I wore: a DIYed feather headdress, asos black skirt, handworked macrame knotted singlet from Surry Hills markets and the Young Huntings Guillotine ring.
Eduardo wore: gold glitter glue and a cheeky smile.
I love the new Chloe Spring/Summer 2011 campaign shot by David Sims. The girls look carefree, happy, fun- and who doesn't want to feel that way? Ah Chloe. I am ridiculously besotted with everything Hannah MacGibbon sends down the runway and so somehow, weirdly, I even find myself eyeing those wet leather look sporty shorts. I've admitted it freely on here before- I'm not sporty- but I reckon a crisp white skirt, a slouchy blazer and a brown suede oversized clutch would Rosiefy those suckers in no time. (Did I just make myself a verb?)
It's been so long, too long, since we saw each other. We might be at a party or we may have run into each other on the street, shifting our bags from hand to hand as we shift our weight from leg to leg, shield our eyes from the sun, smile at each other, ask after each other's lives. We might exclaim over something or share a laugh or toast our half-drunk glasses of wine together yet then it comes, the inevitable question: how's your thesis going?
Is there any more dreaded question for a post-grad student then this one? My stomach clenches as it drops and I try to think of an answer that's not falsely bright or suffused with reluctance. "Good? You know. The usual. How's all your stuff?" Hopefully the conversation quickens its steps away from The Question but if it's been a while, if your heart is warm and supportive, or simply curious, you draw us back. "What are you working on at the moment?" whilst inside my head I'm pulling at my hair out with a cry, "no! I'm at a party/away from my desk/at a picnic/have escaped! For ten minutes, for an hour, it's not heaving over my shoulder. Please let me ignore it."
Because no matter how interesting I may find my research, how grateful I am to have this opportunity or how much I appreciate your interest in my work, there's a welter of other emotions that breed and stretch throughout this experience. The guilt of not doing enough, of not doing the right reading (if it's blogs I should be reading theory; if it's theory I should be reading other PhDs; if it's other PhDs I should be writing my own.) And if it's writing it's not good enough: ideas that crowd like cities inside my mind fall flat on paper and I lose all confidence. The fear of not being good enough- smart enough, resilient enough, motivated enough- to get the job done. The attendant anxieties and shame. Day in, day out. And running like train tracks beneath it all the feeling that I am doing this on my own- no-one else can do it for me, and if I duck out from under my work for a day then I've let myself down.
The challenge is to find a way to marshall the negative affect and put it to one side as you try and find other ways into your work. Today I went back to Rare Books to look at some other PhDs to remind myself that eventually all of this spreading, interlapping research will result in a finite document contained between two clothbound covers. I looked down at one, a hand on either side of the spine, and I felt a ghostly pride that I will fully inhabit in three years when the thesis between my palms is my own. It might be a struggle to get to that moment but get there I will.
My brain is like a puddle of melted ice-cream today. Rummaging through old photographs has felt like a better plan than crawling quietly into bed for a mid-afternoon sleep. Even though every time I blink, my bones seem to drift ever more slowly and heavily down into this lounge chair.
If I was wearing yellow cable-knit knickers and a miniature sailor's hat with clown dots of eyeliner under my peepers, today would be very different.I would be carried off by an enormous handful of indigo balloons, over the rooftops, over the harbour and into sunset-stained clouds. Up there I'd greet other adventurers, most of them wearing 1920's aviator style garb (leather skullcaps with glass-bottle-bottom glasses would be mandatory) and unlikely companions would drift past- an elephant, chewing absent-mindedly. Maybe some goldfish, swimming through the atmosphere so that the sun deflected off their scales, the brief glare rising like a chorus.
If I was wearing a multi-coloured quilted jacket and a turquoise blouse with daisies printed on it, I'm pretty sure I would be found lying in a field of wildflowers. Gypsy caravans would trundle by, their weight leaving twin paths in the long grass in their wake. The tremor of their journey like the rush of blood through veins, the harmony to the deep beating of the earth's heart way, way, deep down beneath my ear. The sailor's hat fallen off and forgotten, wild violets tangled in my hair and crushing under me so that the scent of them intermingles, becomes inseparable from, the still afternoon.
If I had a smile halfway between a laugh and delight, then this day would look entirely different.
So I went to the beach yesterday with some girls who knew me when I still had crooked teeth we've been friends that long. Armed with olive bread, beetroot tzatziki, cherries and apple juice we found a space of sand just for us. We ate in the glorious sunshine, lolling on towels, talking politics and immigration and the influence of religions on societal ethics. Then we talked about boys and relationships. Then we went for a swim.
You know what was a stupid decision, though? When she said, sunscreen at the ready, "do you want me to do your lower back?" and me, lazily flickering back to past summers where only my shoulders got scorched, replying "nah, don't worry about it." That moment returned with startling clarity six hours later as I stared at my radioactive sunburn in dismay. Me, who wears sunscreen on my face every single day, even in winter. Half of me is looking forward to a dark tan and half of me is dreading melanoma.
So maybe it's a relief that today I am embracing my usual sensible self and am hiding away indoors. I cleared my diary every day this week so that I can write the majority of my third chapter. Armed with a year's worth of reading and thinking, I am finally here (bathed in aloe vera gel and wrapped in long layers of cotton), flexing my fingers over my external keyboard. Today's task: re-reading my notes and writing at least 1500 usable words. Things to avoid: being distracted by Tommy Ton's 2010 fashion roundup and catching up with Cailin. Things to embrace: the possibilities of an unwritten year and the half-formed ideas that will crystallise as I bang away on the keyboard. (I am a typing class's worst case scenario: a two finger typist who smashes at the keys.)
And just to keep myself accountable, I'm going to post my favourite sentence on here at the end of each day so we all know that I have actually been doing work, not scouring 30 Rock Season Four for the James Franco episode (is this an urban legend? I canna find it!)
And if you are braving the summer sun on this delayed public holiday then please remember the message from our good friends at the Cancer Council: sunburn is skin cells in trauma.
I kept Fashademic while I was a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, conducting my research on personal style blogs. My degree was awarded in September 2014. You can read my thesis, "O HAI GUYZ: Between Personal Style Bloggers, Their Readers, and Modern Fashion" by clicking the link in Press. Fashademic was totes a methodological exercise.