Wednesday, 24 February 2016


After some degree of denial and a fair amount of struggle, I am forced to admit that I am in a state known to me as 'A Crash' and blogging and blog reading is too much to cope with at the moment.  I think of my blog friends often, much more than you can tell, even those invisible readers who lurk and are nameless to me.  I'm sending you all my best wishes and taking an official break.  I know I will be back; I just don't know if it is going to be weeks from now or months from now. I am certainly hoping for the former option.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Clothing! Such a Nuisance

 I've had a difficult month with The Plague acting up but at times when writing feels manageable I've resurrected and moderately revised things I wrote some time ago and saved.  Previous blog posts have been such and so is this one.  A good clue typically, is lack of photos. 

I find myself slipping back into old ways, or at least that is the thought that crossed my mind recently when I realised I have lost all interest, an interest that was quite short lived, in putting much effort into how I dress.  This does not mean I look like a slob or that I am not clean and neatly groomed.   I have always liked clothing and style and admired dressing well as an art form or distinct form of personal expression.  I also recognise that anything we choose to do or not do with regards to how we dress and groom ourselves is exactly what style is.  In some ways, that suggests to me that there isn't really any such thing as no style because no style is a sort of style in itself.  Something I've learned and have written about before in this blog is that what I like and what I want to wear are not always well aligned.  I have great admiration for and attraction to much more ornate styles of dressing than I actually feel comfortable wearing myself.  Previously I had not imagined such a dichotomy could exist, assuming only that if one likes it one will like wearing it.   Apparently that is not true.  Another notion I had to dispense with is maximalism versus minimalism because not only are they relative and defined differently by different individuals, they are two ends of a scale and surely there is much in between them.  I am neither a maximalist nor a minimalist and whom you compare me to will make a difference in your perception of either of us.

My lifestyle and my taste for simple comfort could certainly dictate a minimalist style, and it does push me in that direction but I don't strive for it or stick to a rigid definition of it.  My preference for layers indicates some types of styles might be more suited to me, but I also have a preference for quality, limited shopping and of not being the most noticeable person in the room.  I haven't got a flambouyant or dramatic personality so it seems incongruous to dress as though I do.  It becomes a costume that compels me to act the part and I find it exhausting even if it is sometimes fun or if pretending to be someone else gets me out the door.   In the end, this is why the lagenlook I really like isn't working for me.  As much fun as dressing can be, I have learned that it is not my main method of expressing myself and I do not care if what I am wearing leads you to conclude that I am dull or unimaginative. I am in the fortunate position of not needing to sell myself to anyone.

There is indeed a part of me that seems to default to the "I am too intellectual to care what I look like" concept.  I was born to be the slightly untidy absent minded professor type expert in some obscure area of philosophy or literature that nobody has ever heard of.  I missed my calling, obviously, but I recognise the tendencies in myself.  I was, however, raised to have a good grasp on grooming skills and I do have some degree of desire to look pleasing and appealing.  Thus I want to wear colours that flatter me, a little bit of makeup, have a flattering hairstyle (still can't and probably won't ever determine just what that is) and wear clothing that generally does not steal the show.  If I am honest, I want you to see my mind, my thoughts, my ideas, and not what I am wearing.  I don't want you to look at me and say  "That's a nice dress" and while I will not complain if you look at me and say "Oh you look nice" what I really want is "Hey, I'd really like to spend time talking with you."  On the other hand, if too many people respond that way ( and the definition of too many might be more than two a week) I will get exhausted so much of the time I actually don't want you to notice me at all.  That's not too hard to achieve, since I can manage that by just staying home.

I don't think of myself as a great intellectual any more than I think of myself as a beauty, but I wonder if self presentation is more about what we are aiming for rather than what we think we are.  If that's the case then it's my mind I want to define me and not my appearance and I don't care if I appear stylish or fashionable, or artistic.  I don't aim to create something beautiful when I paint any more than I am really interested in creating something beautiful when I get dressed.  I am aiming for authenticity, some sort of always just out of reach truth; I am seeking the essence of something and when I paint it is to help me see, to help me look for that true nature in something or someone.  My appearance may or may not tell you something accurate about the essence of who I am, and I no more have the patience for creating artful bedhead and a grunge look as a statement of non-caring, than I have for manicures and curling irons.   Give me wash and wear hair, a few signature pieces of jewelry, which I probably don't even take off when I go to bed, some comfortable jeans and a soft wool sweater.  Add a pair of moderately funky boots and a large satchel containing one or two books and probably a lipstick that I may or may not remember to reapply later.    I don't know what to call this style, but it's the style truest to who I am.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Iris and I Might Not see Eye to Eye


It's a cute idea.  It certainly gives a rational for choosing to dress in a flambouyant way and it's true that Iris does not dress like everyone else, though what comes to mind when I see her is usually something along the lines of senior citizen clown school.  Ouch!  You say.  Shawna you are letting out your inner bitch, finally.  I disagree.  My inner bitch is not nearly that objective.  I'm not a big fan of clowns, and I do not admire Iris' outfits because I would actually want to wear them myself.  I do think that she has just as much right to look gaudy and tacky as I do to look frumpy and boring.  That is an idea I will certainly get behind.  Her spirit is delightful and if you see her coming you do get a sense of what you are about to encounter.  But what I admire most about Iris is that fact that she says things, things she believes in, her opinions, states them like they are facts and nobody seems to mind.  I wonder if dressing like that helps.  Can she be written off by anyone offended by what she says as just a silly old eccentric and is being thought a silly old eccentric better or worse than being written off as a miserly middle-aged frump?

I would like to live in a world where what we wear didn't matter and didn't lead people to judge us but that world doesn't exist.  So, the only option left is not to care.  One of my favourite artists, Paul Cezanne, was apparently quite disheveled, filthy and smelly.  We assume he didn't care.  I suggest perhaps he was guarding his own personal bubble with this effective strategy.   I doubt I could go this far, as I do generally like to be clean, but I have a perhaps perverse admiration for this insistence on freely being oneself and tend to admire the grubby more than the thoughtfully decorated.  Or at least I think I do.  I've not tested that by accumulating any grubby friends and I've not tested my friends with my own grubiness either.

Getting back to Iris.  The image and quote above comes from a Harper's Bazaar article featuring many such quotes.   I don't have to agree with everything Iris says to find her interesting and appealing and in fact it's likely I'd be disinterested if I agreed with everything.  Nobody is asking me for my words of wisdom for publishing in any magazines so I just have to find the words of others I connect with and be content with that.  I like many comments and ideas identified with Iris but I dislike the one above  and I dislike this one:  "Life is too short to wear beige."    I've seen this one attributed to Iris though can't currently find it along with a photo.  Poor beige. There is a time and a place for beige, and whether or not beige is appealing is only a matter of personal opinion, Iris' opinion being that it is dreary.  While such comments are uplifting to the beige haters of the world, they are potentially offensive to beige admirers such as myself.  So, yes, I dislike this comment and that is exactly why I am so glad she said it.  If she paused to wonder how many beige admirers she might offend before she summarily dismissed beige as bland, and I suspect she did not pause, the possibility of causing offense did not bother her.  I, on the other hand, would have bitten my tongue. I would have worried about the poor beige lovers who I am sure are very lovely people and look very nice wearing beige, and I would have thought to myself, oh no I should not express my own preferences by putting down another preference.  It gets a bit tedious having such polite and considerate thoughts all of the time.

Now it is possible that Iris' words were isolated for their dramatic effect and that she actually said, 'Some people look lovely in beige but for me, life is too short to wear it.'  That sounds more like something I would say though and part of me envies this inability to have worried about all the beige wearers of the world.

And then there is the comment I posted at the top of the page:  "When you dress like everyone else you don't have to think like everyone else."

 I hope that by this she means, that if you dress differently people will understand that you think differently, and by differently I assume she means more tolerant of oddities.  I hope that she does not mean that she thinks only people who dress differently are open minded, creative or tolerant people which is how that statement first sounds to me.  I am perhaps being nit-picky about semantics.  I often am.  I also must keep in mind that being a famous person, she will be quoted, perhaps misquoted and sometimes quoted out of context. 

 I am not sure that we can have any control over what other people determine about our thoughts though because they will judge our appearance as they will, not necessarily how we intend them to.  They will view us through their own lens, as the saying goes.  For a time I was concerned with attempting to represent my true self with how I dressed.  Eventually this became exhausting and boring.  I love clothes in the abstract.  I could have a lot of fun with a life sized mannequin to dress and an endless supply of the various styles that intrigue me.  I've learned that clothes are not my primary mode of expressing myself and that my preferred methods are not immediately obvious, they do not announce who I am as I walk down the street and that is the point.  I am not that type of person, though I can enjoy them and admire their boldness. I am more interested in being bold with my art and my words and I have not reached my desired level of boldness yet.  This makes someone like Iris a role model for me, despite that fact that I would not dress as she does, and do not find it attractive.  I am sure she would not care that I do not and THAT is the point.  I am sure she would not care that I have issues with some of her opinions (if these quotes are indeed accurate) and THAT too is the point. 

The question I repeatedly ask myself, mainly because I think I know the answer and don't like it so am searching for a new one, is  about how I would behave if I had a good long chat over a glass of wine with Iris.  If Iris were bold with assertions and opinions, ideas that could potentially be offensive to someone dressed in a beige ensemble, I would find myself biting my tongue, editing my ow replies to keep them from being as offensive as hers are.  That is what I do.  And I hate it that I do that. I will stop myself  from saying things after I've determined they are not tactful enough, despite the fact that my conversation partner is not being tactful herself.    This is always especially tricky with those people who are skilled at saying any number of things ranging from insulting to mildly un-tactful things while smiling and using a jocular tone.  I'm sure you've met that type. 

So now I have a plan.  I may not want to dress like Iris, not feel comfortable in literally such a bold costume, but if I ask myself, what would Iris say, perhaps I will make progress.

If you like quotes about style and fashion there are many here for you to enjoy.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

I Am In Love With Two Men I Cannot Have

That got your attention, didn't it!  I will disabuse you now of all notion that there is some sort of passionate love triangle (or quadrangle) going on in my life.  One of these men is dead and the other is gay and neither of them ever met me. ......

... So, I write to sort out my thoughts, and sometimes I write those thoughts here.  This, as Beth commented in a previous post, is a public journal, with the vague idea that in some way it might reach other people like me, help someone else in some way or help someone to understand someone in their life who is a bit bonkers like me. 

No, I don't really believe I am bonkers at at all.  But I know that I can appear so to many people.  I have had many people in my life trying to fix me, even with good, loving intentions.   I do not need fixing, but I admit I do crave being understood.  Most of the time I settle for acceptance.  Actually, 'settle' is not a satisfactory word as it is lovely to be accepted.  My ideal is to be both accepted and understood. 

Duality is a constant theme for me.  If we are talking about spirituality or religion I am firmly a monist, not a dualist.  However, I do frequently sense a great deal of dualism in myself.  It amuses me that I am a Gemini, although I have no magical beliefs leading me to buy into astrology and other than a tricky dual personality I do not relate to anything that astrology tells me about Geminis nor do I see any logical reason why I should.

What I struggle with constantly and have for as long as I can remember, is a sense of being two people inside with opposite agendas.  Because of this I am quite attracted to dualist symbols like yin and yang.  If you are sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for me to tell you I am confused about my gender, I am sorry I will have to disappoint you.  That is one thing I am not at all confused about.  I do not feel I am in the wrong body but I do feel as though I have two brains and thus should have two bodies.  I want to be two different people who think and behave differently and have slightly different values.

Who are these two mystery men I am in love with and what do they have to do with all this existential angst?

Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry.  Two men who have never claimed to possess conventional good lucks and tend to refer to themselves as ugly.  Perhaps they are, but I've never noticed.  It is their minds I am in love with, though in the case of Stephen I suspect also very much his heart.  No, all this unrequited love does not torture me, rather it is one way of understanding my own thinking if I ask myself why these two men attract me so much.  Essentially it is more that I want to be them, than want to have them, though I will pass on the smoking habit.  One half of me aspires to be very Stephen Fry like, compassionate, lover of people, invested in causes, brilliant of course, let's not leave out that part,  and I am actually more like him in that I tend to be tactful, to live and let live unless there is something significant at stake, to always consider how others are feeling or how they would feel if I spoke or acted in a certain way.  Admittedly, I want to get along with everyone and be liked.  I am not fond of conflict nor of knowing that someone thinks ill of me.

I wish it were not so.  I wish I were tougher, less sensitive, basically a brilliant asshole, to put it crudely.  Putting things crudely is not my typical habit, though there is that half of me who wants to.  I want to say exactly what I think with scathing brilliance and not give a damn what others think or how I make them feel and definitely not whether or not they still like me after I've said it.  But I rarely do this.  I censor myself, consider everyone's feelings, follow the nanny wisdom of not saying anything if I cannot say something nice.

Which am I?  Confusedly I am both.  I am, quite often, a really nice person who doesn't want anyone to feel hurt (unless that person is an evil dictator but I don't tend to encounter many of those) who is careful not to offend, who keeps her offensive views to herself because it is impolite not to and this is all quite instinctive to me.  I cannot doubt that it is 'the real me' because it is generally so instinctively how I behave and I am usually deeply troubled if I think I have offended or hurt someone whom I believe to be a good person.

BUT, I am also someone who just wants to make all her views plain, call an idiot an idiot, stir up some shit and while I have all the patience in the world for children, I have little for ignorant adults, particular those who stubbornly cling to their ignorance.  I am very aware of what I know and what I do not know.  I would wish to be much more intelligent than I am, and while I wish to possess such intelligence in order to help make the world a better place, part of me would just like to go around slapping idiots with it. 

This side of me rarely shows.  It is repressed, but honestly, if I let it out I do not know if even I could handle it.  I would be loathed by some people and I am too damn sensitive to deal well with that.  My evil twin tells the good twin she should try it, that practice would make perfect.  The good twin says, no no, the world just needs peace and love and cookies.  Evil twin says, yes, but a few people need slapping.  Let's go out and slap them.

Fortunately these twins are living in a body that is too tired to do much.  Perhaps that contributes greatly to the frustration.  I want to make a difference in this world.  I want to help people but cannot seem to decide if they need hugging or slapping.  Some need one and others definitely the latter.  Nice twin speaks up and reminds evil twin that honey catches more flies, that patience and kindness encourages people and being critical of them does not make them change.  Evil twin smirks and says, yeah, but it sure feels good.