18 March 2013, 12:49
On Saturday, I spotted my first cherry blossoms of the season… and it whipped me into a frenzy! The first day of spring (and Ostara!) is Wednesday: so close!
Even though it’s below freezing as I write this — and we’re supposed to get snow today — I can’t stop thinking about warm weather, and how I want my summer to be.
All of my favourite memories are from a time when it was warm, like getting caught in a blossom shower on the Upper East Side. Or walking around Greenwich Village at night, live music pounding and lights everywhere. Summer makes me think of never-ending views and evening light on rooftops, and riding a motorcycle with my husband all over the city.
I love the way spring stretches into summer. The days are long and languid, and fireflies light the night. It is my favourite time of year… And our wedding anniversary is smack-bang in the middle of it!
Photo by Diddy Lux.
This summer, I want to wear short skirts and high heels, to pack a suitcase and drive off into the sunshine with my husband. I want to lie in the grass and take photos of the clouds. I want to wear bright pink lipstick and ultra-long eyelashes. I want to read tarot cards, dance in public, and carry my camera everywhere.
I want to celebrate Midsummer in a park. I want to grow flowers and herbs and keep freshly-made iced tea in the fridge. I want to make raw cacao smoothies and get a tan. I want to play in the surf, have salt-kissed hair, and wear sunglasses all the time.
I want to move into a new apartment with big windows. I want to light candles and worship the moon. I want to listen to songs that give me goosebumps all over my entire body. I want to work my way through a huge stack of books, sleep deeply, and write down my dreams…
13 March 2013, 12:00
Where would we all be without our phones? Mine is constantly at my side, and I’ve discovered it’s not just great for obsessively decorating, listening to music or taking a million photos. In fact, there are a bunch of iPhone apps that can actually improve your life. Here are a few of my favourites!
If you can’t sleep: Relax Melodies
Relax Melodies is basically a little sound machine in your phone. You can choose any combination of sounds — like ocean, rainforest, thunderstorm, or rain on the roof — and they just loop for hours. I know you’re not meant to sleep with your phone beside your head, but sometimes, when there’s a guy parked outside with his car stereo booming, I need something to help me get to sleep!
I love Relax Melodies. It really does relax you, and falling asleep to the sound of rain is about the most peaceful thing I can think of.
P.S. There are two versions of Relax Melodies: free and paid. I upgraded mine, but I think the free version is completely adequate!
If you want to get your inbox to zero: Mailbox
First, the bad news: At time of writing, there are approximately 700,000 people ahead of you in the queue to use Mailbox. But the great news is that the queue moves quickly — I waited about two weeks, I think — and when you’re granted access, Mailbox is a complete game-changer.
Mailbox makes it really, really easy to archive or delete your mail, as well as a brilliant “show me later” feature. You can choose to delay a message, and deal with it tomorrow, next week, or even next month. Mailbox also keeps a little numeric tally of messages as part of its icon, which really inspires you to clear out your inbox on a daily basis!
Mailbox has replaced iPhone’s OSX Mail app as my email application of choice… And I’ve never been happier. Just watch their video and I think you will be similarly convinced!
If you have a goal: Everest
Everest encourages you to break your goal down into manageable, bite-sized chunks. No matter what your intentions are, this app will help you get there.
You can connect with friends to help keep you accountable, as well as browse around and see what complete strangers are doing. I haven’t had a lot of time to play with this app yet, but I think it is so brilliant!
Additionally, if you’re looking for some more adventure in your life but aren’t sure where to start, just tap the Challenges tab and accept someone else’s dare! Some examples include cut out sweets for a week, don’t complain for 24 hours, do a silent retreat, create a plan to get debt-free, and run a half marathon. Each challenge is broken down into steps which you simply swipe to complete.
If you’re stressed: Take A Break
Take A Break is a free app which comes with two different guided meditations: one is a “work break” that runs for seven minutes, and the other is a stress relief meditation, which is thirteen minutes long.
You can choose whether you’d like to just hear the voice, if you’d like music in the background, or nature noises, which makes this very simple app a little more customisable.
Guided meditation is one of my favourite types of meditation, and it’s particularly useful for anyone who is new to sitting still and quieting their mind! It gives you something to focus on, rather than trying to think of nothing and obsessing over how much your nose itches!
I always feel much more serene after using this app. Give it a try!
If you can’t remember everything: Wunderlist
I have tried so many apps over the years, always looking for that sacred sweet spot: the intersection between ease of use and practicality. I’ve recently come back to Wunderlist, and I’m in love with it.
One of the reasons I love Wunderlist is because it has a desktop app. I don’t like to do everything on my phone, I like to be able to type and research on my computer, and Wunderlist syncs beautifully across all devices.
Wunderlist is basically where I vomit everything I need to keep in my head. At the moment, I have lists for places I want to visit in Los Angeles, pictures I want to take for Instagram, articles I want to write, things I need to procure to make my living room a better place, a Blogcademy “to do” list, a generic shopping list… And that’s just for starters.
It really helps to keep me on track, and I think it will help you, too!
If you want to keep a journal: Day One
There are a lot of journalling apps on the market but Day One is my favourite. The design is sleek and easy, and the app just does exactly what it says: no more and no less. One of my favourite features is the ability to add a photo to your diary entry. It makes it more visually stimulating, which provides a whole lot more motivation to keep adding to it.
The best thing about Day One is that you can set an alarm to remind you to update your journal. Maybe setting an alarm for 10pm or 7.30am would be the best time to get your thoughts down. Play around with it and see what works for you!
If you want to be on time: Uber
Uber is like having access to your own personal driver through your phone. It’s different in every city, but in NYC they have partnered with a number of black town car services, and it simply pings the one who is nearest to you.
It’s so easy to use: you input your address and it gives you an estimate of how close the nearest car is. Where I live, in the East Village, a car is usually about 6 minutes away. Once you submit your order, Uber will actually chart the path of the car while you wait.
Using Uber is a little more expensive than a taxi, because it’s a town car service. A trip that would normally cost me about $16 cost me $24. But I didn’t have to leave my house and go searching for a taxi, the car was impeccably clean, I didn’t have to swipe my card at the end (it’s all done in the app), and the tip was included. (A 30% tip on a $16 fare is almost $5, anyway.)
I am completely obsessed with this service! It’s truly perfect if there’s somewhere you need to be, if the weather is terrible, or if you’re just feeling too fabulous to want to prowl the streets in search of a taxi!
By the way, if you use my invite code, you’ll get $10 to use towards your first trip! Awesome!
If you want to eat healthy: My Fitness Pal
You know how they always say you should keep a food journal if you want to become more conscious about the amount — and type — of food you’re eating? It’s a great idea, but no one really does it. Or at least, I’ve never met anyone who managed to make it stick!
MyFitnessPal seeks to fix this problem. You can search for foods or scan any barcode and have it instantly entered into your food diary, figure out serving sizes, and even discover how many calories you should be eating if you have a certain weight goal.
If you’re anything like me, you have serious eating habits. I eat the same foods every week, and with MyFitnessPal, once you’ve entered them once, they get saved in your regular foods list. This makes it really easy and fast to keep on top of your diary.
There’s also space to enter any exercise you do. Great for gym bunnies!
If you want to say thank you: Ink
With Ink, you can instantly create greeting cards using the photographs on your phone. I love this app, because it removes any and all excuses for not sending a quick thank you to anyone who deserves it.
Using their app, you select a design, pick a photograph, add any text, then choose a contact to send it to. The Ink nymphs print it out at their magical factory, then slap a stamp on it and send it out. It arrives at your friend’s house soon after, and you all rejoice!
Now you really can be the babe with the best manners!
If you want to get centered: Pranayama Universal Breathing
Pranayama Universal Breathing is a super-simple app. When you fire it up, onscreen you see an animation of a man sitting cross-legged. Next to him is a pie chart, which shows how long your inhale and exhale should be. The first 1/3 of the pie chart is devoted to your inhale, and the rest is intended for your exhale.
Then all you have to do is follow the instructions. Breathe in… Breathe out. Breathe in… Breathe out. Do it for a few minutes, and you’ll feel back to your old self in no time!
You can up the ante, too, if you’re looking to try some more advanced breathing techniques. Fabulous!
I hope you have fun playing around with these apps!
Help! I think I’m in love with my phone,
4 March 2013, 15:38
Photo by Jeffrey Clark Grossman.
I was walking along 14th Street when I got an email from my friend, Rabbit.
Subject: vampire ball tomorrow night?
Okay, so I think I am going to this ‘vampire ball’ tomorrow night… It’s called Endless Night. Would you care to be my teenage goth date? Image of me down on one knee, presenting you with a ring box containing a spider
My reply was instant.
Subject: Re: vampire ball tomorrow night?
OMG YES. What the eff are we gonna wear?!
The next night, I stared in the mirror, teasing my tresses as I sprayed them with extreme hold hairspray. It was easier than I thought to slip back into that old ritual: thick eyeliner, multiple coats of mascara, wine-coloured lipstick and plenty of powder. Finally, I laced up my platform boots, wrapped myself in a black coat, and headed out to greet the night.
I was a heady mix of nerves and gut-twisting-weirdness as I stood in the line outside the venue. At the same time, I was instantly transported back to my goth persona that I had perfected over 10 years of dabbling in the dark side.
When Rabbit appeared, I told her, “Just so you know, my goth persona is really mean.”
There’s something about painting those sharp lines around your eyes that makes you want to narrow your gaze at everyone.
We explored the space: three floors with multiple dance floors and performances. On the basement level, children of the night were writhing and twisting to industrial beats. Overpriced drinks were being poured, absinthe rituals were being observed, and the Goth Top 40 was blasting. (Depeche Mode! New Order! The Cure!)
Endless Night was teeming with goths. They were everywhere, limbs flailing while they danced, long pointy fingers wrapped around plastic cups. We saw goths of every size, shape and colour, of every genre and sub-genre and motif you can imagine. Women in decadent ballgowns twirled around men in tight PVC pants. Capes and fangs flashed in the light, top hats and wigs loomed over the masses, and shaved-off eyebrows and white contact lenses were de rigueur. There were also some men dressed like pirates sailing on the SS Hot Topic. There’s a few in every crowd, I guess!
On the Endless Night website, in bold, italic, underlined text, it says, Fangs and masks are highly encouraged but NOT required. I never was one for a dress code, but I was also running pretty low on anything that might qualify as gothic chic. (I had gotten rid of my striped tights, New Rock combat boots, long lace skirts and fishnet shirts when I left home.)
I had slithered into a plum velvet skater dress from the 90s, with black stockings and my boots that elevated me to 6’1”. I spun around the dancefloor, sucking on gin through a tiny straw.
Rabbit looked like a baroque painting, but even more pale. A fascinator on her head, skinny limbs encased in pale lace, she flicked open a fan and fluttered it in front of her face.
From the VIP section, we looked down at the crowd and I pointed out a man whose hair was shaped like a teardrop on the top of his head. Later, as Rabbit and I writhed to Type O Negative’s Black No 1, he approached us. He must have been 7 feet tall. He was wearing a slippery latex catsuit, his nails filed to a point and painted a red to black gradient. He boogied into my eye-line, and started to dance as he stared at me, mouthing, “Black, black, black, black, number ooooneeeeeee!”
We started talking in that weird way you talk to people in clubs: half-shouting, only understanding half of what’s said. He was from Greenwich, Connecticut. I had a fantastic vision of him taking the Metro-North train in his greasy onesie, so I asked how he’d gotten into town. He said he drove; that his car was “all blacked out”. He mentioned that the people at Starbucks gave him free coffee.
“I like you,” he blurted. He told me we should get married. When he went to the bathroom, I escaped.
He was sweet and well-intentioned, I think, and he was also really the only person who approached us. Rabbit turned to me later in the night and said, “Why aren’t more people talking to us? This is totally weird. I get hit on more at my local bar in Williamsburg than here.”
“Rabbit!”, I replied. “Goths like to lurk, they want to be seen as mysterious. You can’t be spooky and introduce yourself to everyone in the room like Bill Clinton. They will never approach you. That’s why they just stand in the corner trying to look enigmatic, so someone will approach them.”
Even so, there were far fewer pick-up artists than I expected.
Rabbit wanted to know what made modern goths tick. We started walking up to people, engaging them in conversation, trying to get a little insight. I pointed at a guy and said to Rabbit, “How about that one, wearing the carpet?”
More fool me. He wasn’t wearing a carpet at all. It was a priest’s robe from the 1960s. He was an Italian map-maker living in Harlem. He was carrying a one-of-a-kind personally-moulded mask, but it didn’t really look anything like him.
He told us that he loved the old music from the goth scene. He remembered back when goths and punks and weirdos of all kinds hung out together, and he missed those glory days.
Since I was fascinated by everyone’s mode of transport that night, he told us that he had taken the subway from Harlem, and that when on the train, he turned his colourful outwear inside out. The cape was black on the inside, just like the soul of everyone in attendance. (Ho ho! A little goth humour.) He was friendly and drunk and shy, unlike the belligerent guy in a pinstriped suit we spoke to next.
At 3am, we decided we had probably seen everything we were going to see. We had witnessed a woman in a ballgown and corset spanking another, we had been followed across the dance-floor by a guy in corpsepaint, and we had angered the aforementioned pinstriped suit-clad pick-up artist when we pressed him to tell us exactly what he liked about goth girls.
We collected our coats and took a cab to Veselka, a famous 24-hour Ukranian diner in the East Village.
Over eggs, kielbasa and sweet potato fries (which I stole from Rabbit’s plate), we dissected the evening, trying to figure out what had just happened, and perhaps more importantly, why we enjoyed it so much.
There’s something liberating about doing an activity that would have thrilled you as a teenager.
No matter how long it’s been since I kissed the subculture goodbye, there’s still something about it that calls to me. Deep down inside, I still think of myself as that weirdo goth girl.
When I’m shopping, I always look at the black clothing first.
Going to the vampire ball was a way of cherishing my inner teenager. When I was 15 years old and spending my entire weekend hanging around Cuba Mall carrying a lunchbox and wearing stripey tights, the idea of going to a goth party in New York City would have been beyond my wildest dreams.
I remember sitting at my computer (with its 33.6kbps modem), reading every goth site I could find. I would soak up the information with my eyes. I’d read every thread on alt.gothic and alt.gothic.fashion, I’d learn gothic home decor from Gothic Martha Stewart, and dream of one day being a Gothic Babe Of The Week.
Wellington’s goth scene was small, to say the least. The people who organised the events did a bang-up job, and bless their cotton socks for that, but it was always the same 50 people. I guess it’s like that in any city: the scene has its key players, and after a while, it all starts to look the same.
It was incredible to realise that — as with any subculture, I suppose — goths look the same, from New Zealand to New York. Everywhere I turned, the faces, the clothes, the behaviour felt familiar.
Goth fashion hasn’t changed. Cybergoth arrived on the scene with a neon shout, and steampunk creeped its way into the dark consciousness, but in general, corsets and big voluminous skirts are still all the rage. In fact, nothing about being goth has changed… Except that these days, it’s even less common.
And maybe this is a function of a subculture becoming even more fringe. Even Hot Topic doesn’t cater to mallgoths anymore; they have all but disappeared. Seeing a goth in NYC is an unusual occasion, like spotting a rare bird.
There are so many more ways that teenagers can rebel these days. Dressing in black and listening to Sisters Of Mercy is nothing compared to popping pills, taking your clothes off for some sleazy photographer, and becoming an internet “it girl”. How worried can a fishnet shirt really make your mother, when you could be embroiled in some Gossip Girl-esque scandal?
Honestly, it makes me glad that wearing striped tights, reading Anne Rice and scowling at people was how I occupied myself from ages 13 to 20. It could have been so much worse.
I was surprised by how comfortable I felt at the ball. It was like putting on an old uniform, with worn buttons, and a jacket that has softened at the elbows. It wasn’t a stretch of my personal limits to powder my face, to tease my hair or to stand outside the club, eyeing everybody.
I may have moved on from only wearing black and listening solely to music that came out 20 years ago. But I love to go out and celebrate that lifestyle, which, no matter how much I may deny it, will always be a part of who I am.
These days, I look back at it with a sense of humour. That’s the difference: when you can laugh at yourself, it becomes so much more fun. There’s nothing like dancing to The Cure, Type O Negative and Nine Inch Nails, waving your arms in the air and sneaking off to the bathroom to tease your hair (again).
I always look at goths fondly. After all, everyone I’ve ever adored was one, once.
Yours in spookyness,
3 January 2013, 13:40
Does the start of the year have you stumped? Sometimes the idea of choosing a few resolutions makes your head spin, but here’s a secret: it can be easier just to focus on one or two areas!
So if you don’t have any resolutions yet, why not steal some of these?! In fact, if you click on the resolution, it’ll automatically send out a tweet, broadcasting your intention to all & sundry! Perfect! Now you really have no excuse!
I’m going to make fabulous a verb. (Click to tweet!)
What this means: Keep champagne in the house at all times. Add a big sparkly necklace to even the most simple ensemble. Wear your favourite things until they are totally worn out (& don’t worry about saving them for a “special occasion”). Celebrate everything & nothing!
Start here: Bauble Bar sell fantastic & inexpensive gems. Keep your Instax camera on you at all times! Paint your nails with beaucoup du glitter. Learn how to apply false eyelashes & then wear them with aplomb! Dress your space so that it is more “you”, as well as a perfect place to rest & be awesome.
I’m going to worship my own temple. (Click to tweet!)
What this means: Eat smart, nutritious food. Make an effort to sweat on a regular basis. Give your feet a break from high heels at least some of the time! Get regular massages (this should be essential for anyone who works at a desk).
Start here: Try the Clean Program for a major kick-start. (My husband & I have done it twice, & we love it! In fact, we’re doing it again in February. Join us!) Give yoga or pilates a try. Find an incredible spa in your city & book yourself in for a couple of hours. Take a burlesque class & learn to love your body in all new ways. Buy yourself an out-of-this-world sex toy. Dedicate yourself to practicing radical self love!
I’m going to simplify. (Click to tweet!)
What this means: Think before you purchase. Sell or donate anything you don’t wear. Delete songs you don’t like from iTunes, unsubscribe from blogs you don’t read, & throw away your old magazines. Remove distractions — disconnect from wifi when you’re working. Stop following boneheads on Twitter! Scale it down.
Start here: Tame that wardrobe. Embark on a month-long shopping embargo! (I’m doing this again in February.) Have your favourite boots re-soled and your best coat fixed. Set up a Gmail filter so that any email with the word “unsubscribe” in the body text goes directly to Trash. Reduce, reuse, recycle!
I’m going to embrace adventure. (Click to tweet!)
What this means: Get your feet dirty, & leave the beaten track. Do things that are out of character or terrifying… Take a risk! Leave safety behind you. Don’t conform just because you’re afraid.
Start here: Create your own International Playgirl Pinterest board & get dreamin’! Sign up for some frequent flier programs to start racking up the miles. Grab your best friend & talk them into a getaway! Start researching a retro road-trip (& read this before you go!). Make plans to quit your sucky job & start doing what you’ve always dreamed about…
I’m going to improve my art. (Click to tweet!)
What this means: Decide that this is the year you’re going to elevate your work to a new level of artistry. Carve out non-negotiable time that you’ll commit to your work. Accept that this may mean less social engagements (but the trade-off is so worth it!).
Start here: Take a course or an advancement program (no matter how good you are, there is always more to learn). Find a mentor & meet with them regularly. Socialise with other people in your industry. Try a new technique. Set some goals. Take on fewer commitments so that you can really get into what you’re doing. Read more.
I’m going to be a better babe. (Click to tweet!)
What this means: Spend time volunteering. Donate money to your favourite causes. Think of — & then act upon! — ways to improve your street, neighbourhood, city, country. Calculate your carbon omissions. Make an effort to recycle. Be more compassionate, less judgmental.
Start here: Offset your carbon emissions! Find a way to volunteer your time — if you’re in New York, New York Cares is an incredible organisation. Learn about I Am That Girl. Consider buying EKOCYCLE products. Listen more. Fundraise for causes you really believe in.
The start of a new year has so much energy, so much promise. The first few days of January are lush with expectation & good intentions, but as the weeks wear on, it’s all too common to lose your mojo.
How can you stay on top of your game?
Write daily gratitude lists. Regularly evaluate your goals & the steps you’re taking to get there. Make an effort to try new things. Be spontaneous. Figure out what you’re great at & delegate the rest. Focus. Take your time. & again: count your blessings, even — especially — when you feel like you don’t have many.
1 January 2013, 15:13
Last night, all across the world, we counted down the seconds until the clock ticked over. We kissed our lovers & friends, & toasted with overflowing glasses of bubbly pink champagne. We patted glitter onto our eyelids, we fluttered our false eyelashes, we slipped into those special shoes. Now, it’s here: it’s 2013, & it’s time to shine.
Let’s choose to make this year the perfect mix of work & relaxation; of magic & of mirth; of parties & personal down-time. Let’s keep the balance.
Let’s make the moments count. Let’s slow down, count our blessings, smile at our friends, & take lots of photos.
Let’s take huge risks & back them with immense faith. Let’s scare ourselves & do the so-called impossible.
Let’s resolve to get back on the horse, no matter how hard it kicks. We won’t be saddened by rejection or put off by a big endeavour. Let’s push further, work harder, & start with the most important task.
Let’s make a pledge to really reward ourselves this year. Let’s celebrate with abandon. Let’s keep champagne chilled in the fridge at all times!
Let’s gasp with delight, swoon with excitement, & laugh with happiness.
Let’s get more stamps in our passports!
It’s your year, baby!
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