Sunday, September 17, 2017

Take 2!














   Before today I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in order to achieve a presentable blog post.  I woke up this morning prepared to get my weekly musings written early, in the hopes that I could enjoy what is turning out to be an absolutely perfect fall afternoon.  However, upon being confronted with the pictures I'd compiled for this post I was absolutely underwhelmed.  Basically all of my photographs sucked.  “This is not acceptable!” I thought and immediately readied myself for a challenge.
   Luckily, inspiration came quickly and the dress I had intended to feature was not the styling nightmare I anticipated.  As I was pairing it with various items I began to recognize where I had gone wrong the first time I attempted to photograph this dress…yes, the time I wore it in public...the time I did not wear it as well as I’d initially thought.  While I was extremely pleased by the outcome of today’s restyling adventure, I was quite annoyed by the actual execution of these photographs.  Let’s just say the, “Take 2,” shoot was a rather rocky one.
   I began my glamour shot escapade by dropping my phone’s Bluetooth shutter remote somewhere in my yard.  Now this would be annoying for anyone, however when one lives on an acreage and has a bad habit of stalking around fairly remote areas of it…well, you can see my dilemma.  Needless to say I spent the first hour and a half of my, “photo shoot,” searching a terrain full of mulch piles in the hopes of finding something the size of a cigarette lighter.  Only at the end of this search I was not going to have that well deserved celebratory cigarette.  Damn society for pressuring me to quit smoking!  I would be a lot less high strung if I could just light up once in a while. 
   As a result, instead of suffocating my rage with addictive behavior I opted for my old friend, self-deprecation.  I can’t image what a bystander would have thought if they had witnessed me stalking around the yard uttering some of the foulest language even the most senior sailor could come up with.  When it comes to creating nasty names for myself I’m a pro.  Honestly I should get a medal for creativity.  Ironically, it was just yesterday that I was, “creatively,” berating myself when I realized I was not the only person in the room.  It was at this point that I apologized for my language and told the other individual that, “I usually try to watch my mouth when there is a lady present.”  Instead of laughing liked I’d hoped, this woman looked at me oddly and didn’t reply.  “Man, I’m a dumb ….” I thought. 
   Returning to today's odyssey, I’m shocked to report that I did end up finding my remote.  However this did not happen before I had collected a small herd of fuzzy friends.  I know it’s annoyingly obvious that I love my cats…I never stop talking, or writing, about them.  Despite my undying affection, my cats can be a real pain when I’m attempting to take blog pictures.  They are used to being babied by me and REFUSE to leave me alone when I’m trying to get something done.  Huh…come to think of it, this is a problem I have at work as well…but that’s a whole separate blog post.  Anyway, it’s not totally uncommon for me to have a cat hanging off my back in glamour shots.  I simply try not to actually post these images on the blog…although I should because they're hilarious.  In closing, I spent my morning retaking pictures of a dress I wanted to feature correctly.  I ended up with a new collection of images that I believe shows a better coordinated woman, who appears pissed off.  “I’ll take it,” I thought while unhooking a cat’s claws from my leg.
-r. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Free Range













   Well folks, tonight is one of those rare occasions that I have nothing to say.  Usually upon constructing a blog post I'll have a vague outline in mind addressing what I’m going to discuss.  However, for the first time…maybe ever…I sit here and find myself with squat.  Life just hasn’t been that interesting lately.
   I seem to have already resigned to my winter rut and it’s only September!  I guess I could state that the day I took the above pictures I found myself roaming the local zoo.  That afternoon I spent hours staring at animals in cages without even an inkling of remorse.  Afterwards I wondered if I was supposed to feel guilty about seeking entertainment from the captive wild.  Was I obligated to wonder if these critters were happy?  Was it my moral obligation to question if their care was up to snuff?  Most of all, why did I feel worse about the extra ice cream sandwich I just inhaled than I did about the baby monkey behind bars?   “Maybe I'm just bad,” I thought while shamefully acknowledging my vintage fur coat collection at home.
   Of course, in response to this last comment I want to reiterate that no mink, fox, raccoon, or rabbit from the 1940’s to the 1970’s died without me attempting to honor it.  Yes, one could argue that each time I purchase one of these coats at the thrift store I perpetuate the idea that killing animals for fashion is okay.  However, I would argue that most of these creatures died long before I was around and it’s an outright sin to ignore the beautiful product of their sacrifice.  I'm very aware that many others do not share my opinion on this matter.  However, I do hope that everyone can abide by the, “Different Strokes,” proverb...and no, I'm not referring to, "What you talkin bout Willis?"  Let’s just stick with, “Tomato…Tomoto"…oh, and please don’t throw any rotten fruit if you come across me wearing one of these gems.
   Back to the topic at hand, I guess the reason I didn’t feel bad for the animals at the zoo was because they looked content.  The monkeys were all chilling and picking each other’s ears.  The penguins were all doing a happy dance around a big bowl of bait.  I even saw a koala bear fall asleep mid chew during his dinner.  “My God!” I exclaimed, “These animals are in the same rut I am!”
   Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that I just made a comparison between being content and being in a rut.  I'm very pleased to be able to state that in many ways I’m quite happy with the way my life is.  However sometimes I really long for something different.  For example, I look at my outdoor cats,(whose portraits grace the patches of my shorts in the above pictures), and wonder just what they do every day out there in, “The Wild”?  Each morning I release them from the shop and watch them sprint out the door in order to pursue…who knows what kind of adventure?  They are free range animals for the day and able to seek out any activity they may fancy.  They have no obligations…no regrets…and no routines…except maybe the one where they all come running for my calls when nightfall comes.  Oh...and I guess they all march in a single file line into the safety of their overnight shelter.  Okay…and yes, they all expect a full belly from the food bowl and a turn at the litter box at this time.  I ask you, is it a big deal that each one of them anticipates exactly three treats before they retire to their seemingly assigned sleeping spots?   Yep, my outdoor cats have it made.  They are what I would call rut-less. 
   Too bad being rut-less means I’m always fearful of the day one of them will disappear.  In anticipation of this event every morning before I let them out the door I rock each one of them in my arms and whisper, “You be careful out their today.  Look out for your siblings and make sure to come back to me tonight.  Most of all always know that you are loved.”  Oh yeah, did I forget to mention the cats demand this as well…but not out of routine!
-r.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Cupcakes and Clowns













   Just today I told my boyfriend I felt like I was going through some sort of early midlife crisis.  His response was an emphatic, “No you’re not.  You’re way too young for that.”  I was instantly annoyed.  Who was he to tell me how I was feeling?! 
   Of course, I neglected to tell him I had proof of my suspected crisis.  However some stories seem like too much work to explain.  Such things include my secret trip made to the St. Vincent De Paul thrift store.  This outing occurred after I was able to leave work early the other day.  Instead of going directly home..."sigh," like I always do...I chose to hit one of my favorite thrifting hot spots.  To elaborate, I believe one of the largest issues of my, “midlife crisis,” is the realization that the majority of my adult life is simply a series of trips between home and work.  During the weekdays I never go anywhere else…other than the occasional trip through the McDonalds drive-thru in order to get one of those delicious crispy chicken southwest salads…and yes, fries too.  The other day when the rare opportunity to break routine presented itself I felt thrilled…and a little guilty...to find myself mindlessly roaming the aisles of St. Vinny’s on a Friday afternoon!
   Actually, I wasn’t exactly without purpose that day.  Lately I’ve been hyped for the cinematic remake of Stephen King’s novel, “It.”  I truly can’t wait until it's released!  I mean, come on...nothing announces the arrival of autumn more than a killer clown classic.  As a result of my excitement, I’ve been trolling secondhand stores in search of a used copy of this book.  When asked why I didn’t just go buy the paperback at Barnes & Noble my father knowingly responded for me by stating, “Because she obviously wants a creepy haunted copy.”  Now here is an example of someone who understands what I’m feeling.  Unfortunately I still haven't been able to locate my perfect spooky edition of this story.  However my thrift store search will continue, and in the meantime I’ve collected quite a few new tweed treasures for my fall wardrobe. 
   Despite my lack of success finding Stephen at St. Vinny’s, I did come across one of the most alluring pieces of clothing I’ve encountering in quite a while.  It was a light pink chiffon and lace layered dress that looked to have been made around the 1950’s.  I was immediately drawn to it.  It was so pretty...it was so impractical…it was so juvenile.  “When would I ever wear such a thing?” I thought while desperately trying to justify the space in my closet this saccharine puffy monstrosity would fill.  I reluctantly left the thrift store that day opting to use the $9.00 in question towards a more, "adult," cause. 
   Of course now, two days later, I sit here lamenting the fact that for the price of a McDonald’s crispy chicken salad and fries I could be the living embodiment of a cupcake.  In other words, I can’t believe I left that dress!!!  Who cares if it was a totally inappropriate garment for a thirty-eight year old woman to wear.  Heck, I could throw one of the seemingly hundreds of tweed blazers I’ve collected over it and suddenly I’m on to something.  I’m so irritated at myself for letting my insecurities get the best of me.  Perhaps that dress was not meant to fill up my closet, but rather refill a spontaneity in me that has been smothered by adulthood and then dressed in…you got it…tweed.  So today I sit here, looking at the pictures above, that display an outfit I find appropriate for a woman my age and I think, “Man, St. Vinny’s won’t be open again until Tuesday.  Who knows if some twenty-something twit will be wearing my dress by then!”  Now I ask you, how can I explain myself competing over clothes with college students without considering the possibility of a mid-life crisis?  Not even the cruelest killer clown story is that ugly. 
-r. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hand-Tooled Tyranny













   In my opinion, lately the differences in people have become very pronounced.  Reading this sentence out loud sounds like something a simpleton would say.  However, I must shamefully admit I’m one of those naive individuals who automatically assumes that most others share my opinions.  I guess this type of thought process comes from truly believing my ethics are right.  Now, during this time of political upheaval, I’m faced with the reality that there are many others who have just as much faith in ideologies that I can’t even begin to understand. 
   Upon first constructing this blog post I had a much lighter topic in mind.  However, last night I finished a novel that inspired so many emotions in me I felt compelled to write about it.  If you are an individual who is concerned with the growing division of people in our country I encourage you to read the book, “The Boy In The Striped Pajamas,” by John Boyne.  It is a historical fiction story that takes place during WWII and revolves around the unexpected friendship formed between the children of a Jewish watchmaker and a Nazi Commandant.  Despite the heavy content, this novel provides a rather sensitive approach to storytelling as it is revealed through the perspective of a nine year old boy.  Ultimately I believe the author’s choice of such an innocent narrator was key in the effectiveness of this tale.  The plot line concludes painfully with the revelation that absolutely no one, despite their political or religious standing, was safe from the brutality of the Holocaust. 
   Due to the short length of this novel I was confused as to whether it was intended for children to read.  After further research I concluded that it was written for teenage individuals and older.  This puzzled me due to the fact that my near forty year old self had issues digesting the conclusion of this story.  I wondered, “Should children really be reading something so sad?”  I brought these concerns to my mother, (because let’s face it, despite the fact that I’m clearly an adult I still think my parents know everything…almost), and she promptly assured me that, “Yes, children should be informed of these things.  As a result they become adults who are informed of these things.  How do you think you turned out the way you are?”  “Huh”…I thought and that beloved simpleton expression of mine returned.
   I guess my overall point here is that I believe this book had such a profound affect on me not only due to it's overwhelming content, but also because of the heightened time of political anxiety we all are living in.  The lesson that prejudice, bigotry, and hatred always ends poorly for all parties involved seems obvious to me.  However, I guess one would have to be open to reading children’s books to learn that.
   In conclusion, I realize this is supposed to be a personal style blog.  Originally I was going to center this post around the type of purse I’m carrying in the above photographs.  Recently a beautiful hand-tooled bag was donated to the place I work.  Nobody could think of a use for it and none of the other ladies there were interested in taking it.  I was appalled!  Didn’t these people realize what a treasure this piece was?  For God sake, were they not aware of how much people pay for hand-tooled anything on Etsy?!  I was befuddled…I was aghast…I was suddenly the new owner of one shunned, but beautiful hand-tooled bag.  
   This was my original rant towards the discussion of the difference in people.  Of course, it simply didn’t seem that important after finishing my book last night.  After last night this Liberal was more concerned about the state of her country…and yes, Liberals can be patriotic.  I even have a bald eagle on my t-shirt to prove it.
-r 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Bee In My Bonnet!












   Lately I’ve had a bee in my bonnet!  I simply can’t stop thinking about how messy my house is.  I find it consuming my thoughts.  I seriously can’t concentrate on anything else.  I walk through my living room and think, “Hairball…hairball…hairball…God, that couch is dusty!…hairball…hai…wait that’s a cobweb.”  Honestly, I’ve been so disgusted by the state of our home I can barely stand to reside in it.
   My readers are probably thinking two things.  One, “What’s new Rayna?  Your house has always been messy and it’s never seemed to bother you before.”  Two, “If you’re that distressed by the condition of your home, why don’t you get off your ass and do something about it?”  In response to hypothetical inquiry two I’d like to state, “I did.  Today I finally did have a manic cleaning spree.”  I believe at this point I’m supposed to go on about, “How great I feel having gotten something done.”  My understanding is that I’m also supposed to feel some awesome sense of accomplishment that I now have a master bathroom that doesn’t look like it belongs in a crack house.  However as thankful as I am to now have carpet that does not resemble angora…(ironic, since I adore wearing angora, but am not so down with walking on it)…I am rather bitter with having wasted the majority of my Sunday cleaning. 
   I suppose most would argue that part of being a grown up is accepting the fact that the tasks never end.  Just because one works forty hours a week, comes home and makes supper, does the dishes, packs lunch for her and her partner, feeds and cleans up after a herd of fluffy babies, makes sure the trash is hauled out to the dumpster, and assures the house is picked up of all clutter does not mean the work is done.  Honestly if it did I would be one happy lady, considering I can do all of these things and still maintain nice nails.  Yes, I just admitted that.  However, once one is involved in the harsh scrubbing of appliances and showers the nails are out the window.  As an individual who no longer indulges in such stress relievers as drinking, smoking, and even caffeine!...is it too much to ask that I'm allowed to keep my hands from looking haggard?  I think not!
   Unfortunately, today my home got the best of me and I broke down and seriously cleaned.  We’re talking, "cleaned," like I dragged the rugs out and beat them against the ground as I assume some of my Yugoslavian ancestors probably did.  With every swing of material I thought, “Whap!...I wanted to wear that blue sleeveless dress today.  Whap!...It would have looked so cute with my red nail polish...which is now destroyed.  Whap!...I could be watching that Criterion movie right now…of course, it’s pretty artsy and may simply be two hours of footage of another woman beating a rug…however, it would be a movie so she would obviously look better than I do now.  Whap!...there better be some sort of karmic reward for thi…ouch! ouch! Something just got in my eye!”
   In conclusion, the day I took the above photographs was similar to today in that I was still lamenting about the condition of my house.  However, on that particular afternoon I decided to deal with it by dressing up and going to someone else’s lovely home to take my blog pictures.  It’s that kind of thinking that gives me a sense of accomplishment.
-r.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Flirting With Fear












   Since I began taking blog pictures, “on location,” I’ve noticed a rather disturbing habit of mine.  I seem to be drawn to settings that are rather spooky.  Originally I simply thought of these places as, "gritty."  However, upon further consideration, I now acknowledge that it may not be a wise idea to traipse around town alone in search of cool abandoned settings.  At least that’s what my boyfriend keeps telling me.
   Despite my annoyance at his harping, I have to admit that when I photographed the above pictures I was a tad creeped out.  I’ve been admiring the exterior of this derelict building for quite some time.  Each occasion I drove by I thought, “Man, the color and texture of that wall is good.  I should stop and get some photos.”   However, I could never coerce myself to actually halt my vehicle.  I still don’t understand why.
   Finally, one day I saw a window of opportunity.  I was prepared to drive by, yet again,…(one has to wonder what the neighbors think of the oddball woman in psychedelic garb trolling the area)…when I noticed that there was a mother and two children playing at the usually desolate neighboring park.  I reasoned, “It has to be safe if there are families nearby!  Besides they’re in screaming distance if I need help.  That little girl looks pretty bad ass.  I could toss her that broken bottle lying on the ground over there and we'd have ourselves a fighting chance! ”   
   As a result of this thought process I was able to muster the nerve to stop and photograph the above pictures.  However, I'll admit I was uneasy the entire time.  There was just something about this location that scared me.  I mean, it couldn’t have been due to the fact that it’s in a rather run down area of town.  Nor could it be because it’s on a fairly isolated street that’s proximity is very close to the State Penitentiary.  Again, I really can’t figure out what was giving me the wiggins so bad. 
   Despite the ooky vibe, I took my pictures that sunny day with the sound of children’s laughter in the background.  I felt ridiculous for the fear I had previously felt…until I realized my soundtrack of merriment was gone, and I was suddenly alone in a not so great neighborhood, taking glamour shots in front of an abandoned building that nobody knew I was at.  As I cursed myself for loosing track of my surroundings I wondered, for the second time, if the same car with a crappy muffler was circling the block repeatedly. At this time I snapped the last picture shown above.  When I posted this image earlier on Facebook I had one friend make the comment, “What’s so scary over there?”  While I’m still not certain my choice of setting that day was wise, I am pleased I was able to translate a feeling of narrative through this shot.  I'll state it's definitely one of my favorite self-portraits.  
   In conclusion, I’d like to reassure anyone who is worried about my stupidity that I’m usually extremely careful about my surroundings.   In fact, I’m so careful one could easily claim I’m paranoid.  Did I mention I have an air horn and Mace with me at all times?  Interestingly enough the Mace is designed to double as a nunchuck…because I know exactly how to use one of those.  It was a gift from an ex-boyfriend of mine who apparently was also concerned for my safety.  Come to think of it another old boyfriend gave me a small finger knife…you know, in case I had to stab someone.  Also, who the hell gave me that air horn?  I know I didn’t buy it.  Huh…what does all of this say about me?  Perhaps next time I’ll stick to boring old pictures in front of my barn door.  I don’t suspect I’ll have to nunchuck anyone at home…unless of course, they’re annoying me.
-r.