5 Current Fashion Truths That Make Me Smile

You can wear anything you want nowadays. Anything. New, not new, forgotten, rediscovered. If it’s old, then it’s not old, it’s vintage, should anyone be so involved in useless time filling as to actually try to tell you your clothes look old.

fashion1Individuality and personal style are on the rise. Whatever makes you feel like yourself, you wear it. Regardless of whether you saw it in a magazine, have loved it forever or reverted to (adult versions) of things you wore as a child.

fashion2Successful and gifted artists, like Lindsey Stirling, admit to loving dress-up! There is room for everything in this century.

fashion3Bright and wacky sneakers that are still comfortable and wearable.

fashion4And finally, the fact that you can find clothes your favourite TV show characters wore ONLINE.

fashion5

 

 

Thou Shalt Call Customer Service

‘Twas a fine summer evening, but I couldn’t enjoy it, as I had to call three different customer services of three different online retailers. One very large, the other somewhat smaller, and the third just a shop. It couldn’t be put off anymore. Not that I wanted to – I wanted to get it over and done with as soon as possible. But the usual paradox was that I felt less than enthusiastic about calling customer service. I wonder why. They don’t know me. I don’t know them. They only know what I ordered. Then there was that thing about just not wanting to be on the phone, because I guess that’s what I thought the internet was invented for. But we must do what we must.

sheldon1

Call Number One

Excitement and adventure. After some clicking around hoping to find a hotline or general number, I found encouragement to let THEM call ME. This was unexpected. But after reading the extensive descriptions on what I would be asked and how much more damn effort it was to call by myself, I had to silently agree with the cheerful assurance at the end that it was much better for them to call me. All that was left for me after that was an impossible to miss button labeled CALL NOW. With a shaking hand I pressed it and jumped as my phone immediately began to ring. A very competent and energetic employee listened to my (rehearsed and succintly phrased) question and promptly answered. The unexpectedly simple resolution of the issue relaxed me so much that I temporarily morphed in to what customer service workers probably experience all the time: I started babbling about what had worried me etc etc. Stopped just in time before it got embarassing. In the subsequent feedback they sent me I gave them five stars.

Call Number Two

Classic. I listened to the waiting line music for a while and the appearance of a human voice seemed very sudden. After a (rehearsed and succintly phrased) question I was forwarded to someone else, to whom I once again had to recount my (rehearsed and succintly phrased) story. I felt tired. I had to repeat some points, but the issue also got resolved.

Call Number Three

Am I talking to a person? I open my mouth to state my (rehearsed and succintly phrased) question, but I’m confronted by a repetition of all the information I had just carefully read myself to save time. Somehow I get the feeling interrupting is not expected, and after all someone is just doing their job. After the recital is finished and I literally hear inhaling and exhaling, I state my purpose. Another reading of the fine print I had perused myself. Then the question that seemed very sudden after the monotonous speaking: “What’s lacking in the product?” “Nothing, it’s just too small”, I mumble. There, they made me say it.

An exercise in patience, elocution and manners.  I hope I was nice. They were all asking what they could do for me.

 

From the Writsomniac

During my online wanderings I stumbled on this article by Candace Ganger, How I Lost and Found My Writing GrooveI enjoy stories with a personal perspective to them that’s moulded by experience, but this title in particular made me stop, as have others capping stories on the same subject.

“…the dream I’d always had, no matter what distracted me along the way, was to be an author. I’m talking NYT bestselling, critically-acclaimed, buzz-worthy kind of author. The kind of writer whose words stick with you long after you’ve finished the last page… It was more than a dream. It was my lifeline.”

I studied journalism for my first university degree, and on the first day one of the professors said all (aspiring) journalists wanted to be writers. He was neither a nice person nor a good professor, but that was a sentence that stuck with me, because I had been wondering myself whether that was true, and whether it was true for me. The conclusion I came up with was that maybe not all of them wanted to be writers, but everyone who envisioned themselves in journalism obviously wanted to be an author, to have their name attached to a storytelling result with words or images. As for me, well…still lots of thoughts on that one.

A few years later I had one of those unexpected, but hey-I-feel-this-way-too-only-I-kept-it-to-myself-until-now conversations with a mentor who had the gift of people wanting to be near him. Due to this gift of his we got to talking about writing, and since he had studied some subjects similar to mine at university, some shared views led to him observing that “writing a book” is probably on the list of most people from these academic fields, whether at the front or at the back of their minds. Most likely true, or at least statistically valid, says my general observation. While journalists certainly receive the tools to someday be able to put a book together, and academic influences sometimes predispose, writing something finished that you want to go out in to the world is by no means a predictable process. And lastly it depends on the person themselves.

Bottom line, there are a lot and a lot and a lot of people out there who think about this.

Candace Ganger depicts how she started to climb the writing ladder and later arrived at a major blockage due to a string of disappointing experiences culminating in the loss of her agent. She describes natural feelings and how she ultimately won her writing spark back: “So I picked myself back up, and I wrote. A grocery list. A short story. Anything to get my groove back. And one day, when the tears dried up and the devastation all faded, I got it.”

Simple words that echoed and made me remember. They are true. Because while I am only starting out, there was a time when I stopped writing, or stopped doing what represented to me that I was writing, at the level I was at that moment in life. Things were not like they were before. What used to come effortlessly wouldn’t. Trying to come up with ideas felt like a chore and only discouraged me. Discipline felt out of reach. The words that did come  felt only wrong. And worst of all, the process of writing did not excite or take me away like it used to. Guilt was followed by mounting terror – was this it?

My epiphany was there all along, though, waiting to happen. I was detailing the above Angst in a journal, and then it hit me. I was sitting in an armchair in this very moment, writing. The notebook was almost full and I was worried the last page would not be enough to record what was flowing from my heart in to my pen. A half-finished list of books I wanted to buy, along with birthday present ideas for friends lay on the nightstand, and I remembered the scores of daily emails and messages I never stopped exchanging with family despite “not writing”. The family, by the way, just let me get on with things at my own pace. I still jotted random things down on scraps of paper and ran out of pens. Why did it take so long to realize? I guess I needed to sort through other things occupying my brain. Maybe for once that took up the space and energy otherwise used for coming up with stories or posts. But once it was done, it was over with, and it gave the writing experience a new depth, and me hopefully a new courage. Even if sometimes I was the only one reading what I came up with.

I had never stopped and realizing that fact was like a breath of fresh air after being inside too long.

 

Yes Please and Bossypants

It looks like I’m on a memoir reading kick now, more specifically those written by US female entertainers receiving considerable media attention. The stack of books in the abovementioned genre on my nightstand has become higher, and since it is in danger of toppling over and waking me up in the night (falling books make quite the noise), I got a move on.

Two of the books from said stack have been read. Before I pull out the parts that stuck with me the most, why did I turn to these memoirs? Because I was curious. They kept popping up in stories on sites I regularly visit and being mentioned by authors writing pieces I identified with. Quite a few of these books were bestsellers in the US and internationally, and as is sometimes the case for me with massively successful cultural phenomena, I wanted to form my own opinion. Also the authors of these books, whatever opinion one might have of their preceding and continuing work in entertainment, were hard-working women with established creative projects they felt strongly about and had pushed through themselves. I wanted to read what they had to say.

The first book was Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I opened the book straight to the middle, to be greeted by the simple statement, “If it’s not funny, you don’t have to laugh.” True, and thank you – that’s actually what got me in the reading mood before I started at the beginning. The order of events described in the book is not chronological, jumping from youth to childhood to adulthood and then back to childhood. Observations on family, friends, children, work and careers are interspersed with each other, which I found relatable, as that is basically what life is like on a daily basis. While some of the sketches described were not to my taste, quite a few experiences strike a chord, especially when Poehler switches from sarcastic to observant and humble in one chapter. Time Travel is a touching depiction of how time and friendships connect: “I believe you can time-travel three different ways: with people, places and things…In the shop, I found an old-timey bathing suit. I bought the bathing suit home and looked at it. I thought about who might have owned it before. The bathing suit didn’t fit into my life at that moment …I put this bathing suit in a drawer and it waited for me to take it traveling. And then six months later I went to Palm Springs with a bunch of wonderful women. They were my beautiful friends who helped me through a difficult year. We were going swimming and I reached into my bag to find a bathing suit….I realized I had traveled again, this time into a happier future.”

She also writes a succint and to-the-point passage about the reality of unwanted approaches women may deal with in the workplace, however small: ” But I did let him hug me. I let that creepy guy hug me. I stayed seated and he came over and hugged my stiff body while my arms stayed at my sides. All I was thinking at that moment was that if I let him hug me he would feel better and this would all be over soon. Do you think he would have hugged a male performer? Me neither. Either way, it never ends.”

Bossypants by Tina Fey followed, and I can’t help feeling I read it a little too fast, as I’m leafing through it now for this blog post and discovering passages that seem new to me. The additional catalyst for taking my own look at the book was hearing people talk about it at a party and rewatching Fey’s impression of Sarah Palin. In any case, one of the chapters I enjoyed most was titled I Don’t Care If You Like It (One in a series of love letters to Amy Poehler). The scene she describes, where Poehler speaks her mind about a, albeit jokey, reaction to her own joke, aptly sums up her creative approach to comedy entwined with views on independence: “With that exchange, a cosmic shift took place. Amy made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute. She wasn’t there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys’ scenes. She was there to do what she wanted to do and she did not ******* care if you like it.” This is followed by a nugget of always true and handy advice that is never amiss (and also made me want to read on): “So my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on.”

The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter is one of the best parts of the book, and one I confess I skipped to before reading in orderly fashion. Both humorous and heartfelt, it rounds up what a memoir is for – writing about yourself without being strictly autobiographical: “Oh Lord, break the internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers.” Regardless of whether you’re a parent or not, you will probably find yourself smiling as you read.

Just like the two women are famously friends in real life, the feeling you get after finishing reading is that the books could be friends too. Both authors mention each other and the role they play in each others lives without overdoing it, and those parts of the books are some of the most heart-warming. You believe in this friendship. Both honestly mention what it was like to write books and are open about the process of writing – yes, it’s hard! But the unstopabble part is that they both wanted to do it. Most notably, when you have experienced and achieved a lot in what occupies the main time frame of your life, the truth is that it can make a book.

Off to read the next one from the stack.

5 Random Things I Don’t Understand

Selfie sticks.

selfie stick

Celebrities who take selfies of themselves brushing their teeth in horrible outfits or ugly onesies and then post said selfie on Instagram.

Guys who ask a woman, “Aren’t you a feminist?” and remain seated when she asks them to help her lift something heavy. What happened to helping each other out?

Heels that one cannot walk in and thus become unwearable. Which goes against the whole idea of shoes, so why make them at all?

high heels fall

Reality TV. It’s not reality TV, they know they’re being filmed.

duhMore to come.