Thursday, July 31, 2014

instamonth: July 2014

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The month's blessings...
  • had a good time of reselling thrifted clothes on eBay; honestly surprised by how much people will spend on some items...
  • cuddled over basically every episode of New Girl with Mar
  • also cuddled over a fashionable French musical with the aforementioned boyfriend
  • found a restaurant with a great happy hour menu and beautiful dock-side location, thanks to Soph
  • picked up the movie soundtrack to my favorite romantic comedy ever, When Harry Met Sally. I prefer the original versions of the songs, to be honest, but I bought it because LOYALTY
  • ate enough pumpkin ice cream to send myself into a sugar coma
  • not one, but two separate adults made me feel validated about being an English major
  • got laid off from the vintage boutique I was working at... which made me available for a waitressing job that I honestly love (and pays better!)
  • met and played with Mario's new kitties--yes, that's plural. his mama impulsively decided to buy a second one when they picked up their first one. pictured above: Jo
  • later tonight Mario and I are gonna go watch Guardians of the Galaxy, awwwwyeah

July, you were a joy. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Mood Board: Retro Color

Cuz sometimes it's nice to dress up when the heat tempts you to throw on cutoffs and flip flops.

Key Words: fit & flare, cat eyes, gingham, bustiers, polkadots, head scarves, fruity prints

Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 ? ? 8

Saturday, July 26, 2014

This Week on My Internet

Photo I took earlier this summer at the Magic Gardens in Philadelphia.

Kacy recently became the first woman to qualify for American Ninja Warrior finals! Especially cool since she's only five feet tall and weights 100 pounds, which both worked against her in certain parts of the course. I don't find reality TV exciting, but this was something else. For some reason I watched this not long after waking up a few days ago, and blame it on my being half-awake, but I cried. And I never happy-cry. (I leave that kind of weepiness to my roommate, Kara, who cried through half of the Olympics. teehee hi Kara)

Rebecca wrote a fascinating little history/style spotlight on Anna May Wong, arguably the first Chinese movie star. She acted throughout the 20s and 30s, appearing onscreen with stars like Buster Keaton and Marlene Dietrich. Really, really cool to read about a fabulous Asian actress from the Old Hollywood era, a time when Asians were either invisible or probably horribly stereotyped.

And while we're on the subject of Asians in popular culture, NPR did a piece on the origin of"ching chong" as a slur.

Not really a link, but I just found out that ASOS has changed its famous policy of free shipping to free shipping on orders over $25. Doesn't make much of a difference to me since they still have free returns, but surprising nonetheless.

And finally, Catherine from See Creatures popped out of the blue to write a long, thoughtful piece on what lingerie means to her. A beautifully written, slightly feminist take on a type of clothing that I've personally never given much thought to.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

on selfie shaming

Prepare y'allselves for a bit of organized rambling.


Took these selfies last semester when I was feeling particularly gloomy (just check out that brooding mug!) but also simultaneously happy with my hair...? I don't know exactly why it happened; I only know that one moment I was upset, and the next moment I thought, "You know what I could really use right now?  Some high quality selfies."

Rebecca, a blogger I've followed for a while, once wrote about the bad rap selfies get. She doesn't see a terrible difference between iPhone selfies, her own outfit shots, and the self-portraits people have commissioned for themselves for centuries (we're going back to like ancient sculptures here). If the selfie has become ubiquitous, it may be due to greater accessibility: it's just so much easier for more people to take self-portraits nowadays. As a style blogger, Rebecca actually prefers taking her own photos because she's free to be more creative when directing herself.

Still, I think there's a distinction to be made among different self-portraits that Rebecca doesn't mention. (I'm no history major, though, so someone correct me if I'm wrong!) When people had portraits made for themselves, their motivations were, granted, probably narcissistic to some extent, but also focused on posterity, yes? Before the ease of modern photography, there probably weren't many other ways to remind your descendants who they descended from. These selfies, then, had a larger practical purpose: a way to give future relatives a face to connect their past to. Similarly, people today still get together for professional family portraits.

As for Rebecca, I'd argue her self-portraits are less about showing off her face than 1. creating a record of her personal style that others can draw inspiration from, and 2. simply creating beautiful photographs (her appreciation for aesthetics and different art forms is clear from her other posts). She also makes her living off her blog. Thus she has both practical reasons (i.e. keeping track of her style, making a living) and artistic reasons for taking her "selfies."

Rebecca of The Clothes Horse

To sum up: there's a documentary and/or artistic aspect to many self-portraits that I don't think is necessarily true for ALL selfies taken today. Does this mean that posting selfiesor any photos of yourself, reallywithout an apparently practical or artistic purpose is automatically narcissistic? I don't know. I think selfies might appear narcissistic if they were the only photos that someone ever shared on social media, but then again, I don't think I know anyone who only posts photos of themselves. If anything, most people want to show that they have successful social lives, and because of that, group selfies with friends are just as common as solo selfies.

In this respect, I think that any discussions about the goodness or badness of "selfies" really fall under the larger phenomenon of documenting our lives on social media in the first place, which raises even larger questions. Are we motivated to take selfies, post status updates, and choose profile pics mostly because we want to give the impression that we're funny/healthy/happy/etc. people all the time? Is there a point when our relationship with social media becomes unhealthy?

(It all reminds me of what I was sort of trying to say with the first spoken word poem I ever wrote. One line from the piece: "If a tree falls down in a forest, and no one's around to hear it, does it make a sound? If I fall down in a forest, and no one's around to Instagram my bleeding knees, do I matter to anyone?")

If I have any point at all here, it's that any debate over selfies should go far beyond whether these pictures are themselves narcissistic. Why? Because selfies are really part of a larger phenomenon that warrants discussion: the fact that we are a generation in which ordinary people lead extremely visible lives. We can compare ourselves to others much more easily, and we can tailor the way we appear to others with even greater ease. How is this affecting us?

On a final note, I think selfies themselves can appear vain when they're actually serving the purpose of much-needed personal affirmation. We might take them, for example, because we feel particularly happy about our appearances one day, and maybe that doesn't happen very often, so we try to record it when it does. The selfies above not only distracted me from the blues, but they also gave me a little blessing to appreciate ("Hey at least my hair looks kinda good right now").

I try to avoid excessive selfie-ingthe kind where you're more preoccupied with documenting your face than experiencing whatever moment you're inbut I do believe in loving yourself to a healthy degree. And if you feel like you need some pics to remind yourself that you exist, and that that's good, and it makes you feel a bit more worthwhile... then gal/boy, you take those selfies. No shame.

PS. Random shoutout to Rebecca, by the way, on her new engagement! I already wrote this on her instagram, but it was super exciting news to me considering that I've followed her blog throughout most of her twenties. Congrats!

Monday, July 21, 2014

ootd: on the dock of the bay

Top - Jones New York (thrifted) // Skirt - GAP (thrifted) // Necklace - F21 (using the money I made slaving away for them last summer, cheers) // Sunglasses - Icing (super old) // Headband - Charlotte Russe (SUPER old) // Wedges - can't remember, from DSW
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♫ listen

Headed across the bridge for dinner with Sophie and Lee earlier today! Soph was back in town, taking a breather from her internship over in Philly. Afterwards we scrambled to the dock across the way for a lil photoshoot. I'm trying to learn how to make the most of our family's camera, a Canon PowerShot SX50, but I want to invest in a DSLR or mirrorless camera before I study abroad this fall....I just get overwhelmed by all the options! 

The dock was beautiful. I keep forgetting that pretty spots like this exist nearby. I don't think I've ever gotten to know my area, physically, despite living here my whole life. I plan to take more advantage of cooler evenings and go exploring--and by exploring, I mean simply leaving the house. (I'm a hermit in the summer! I overheat veddy quickly. Blame my mama.)

Oh! And a random man with his pup photobombed Lee and I while we were having a musical theater moment. "SELFIEEE!" he yelled, throwing up a horizontal peace sign.


Have a swell evening, Random Man. You stay hip.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

#tbt to our first time seeing each other all summer, and thoughts on long distance love

Okay okay so it's not Thursday. WHATEVA


These aren't the most photogenic pics ever. Nope nope. But they're still some of my favorite photos of us because they commemorate our first long-term reunion after being away from each other all school year. Believe it or not, the first year I went off to college and away from Mister Mario went pretty smoothly. At one point I actually thought to myself, "Man, long distance relationships are so much easier than people make them out to be!" 

*cue infinite amounts of ironic laughter*

Long distance relationships deserve their bad rep. Not being able to share as much of your life with each other as you'd like to can be... a lot. It all comes down to trust and communicationand I hate how cliche that sounds, but cliches are cliche for a reason! It's hard to make your significant other really feel loved and appreciated, even when you're on polar opposite sides of New York. (Who told New York it was okay to be so much bigger than people expect it to be?)

But to those who say that long distance relationships are impossible, I saywith all due respectBS.  They're not impossible so long as you're both willing to work twice as hard for each other. Even when people tell you that this is the time of your life to explore what's out there. Mario was/is my first boyfriend. But as poet Shane Koyczan once wrote: "You were the choice I made before I knew what the other choices were." It's all worth it because he's worth it. KnowhatI'msayin?

Anyway, Mario's been in Virginia with his friends all weekend. He better come home to me safely, that one. Since we spend so much of the year apart, summer is our time to be with each other as much as humanly possible. I'm really thankful to be with someone who has me craving his company so often, even after almost two and half years together. We may have had some of our hardest few months this past school year, but we got through 'em like champs.

Onwards and upwards.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sticks 'n Noodles ('n chicken adobo)

In which my beautiful familia flocks to a new Filipino restaurant that opened up in OC:

The menu was a bit limited, mostly noodles and pork/chicken on a stick (huh I wonder why?), but thank goodness they had chicken adobo as one of their specials today. You know how satisfying it feels when you eat something that was exactly what you wanted, but didn't realize until you ate it? Sigh.

Sometime after her first chemo session, my mama moved on from crocheting to her latest craft obsesssion: rubber band looming. Or loom banding, whatever the kids are calling it. That little buddy up there is Kerropi, one of Hello Kitty's pals, and he took more time to make than I'd like to imagine. 

At one point another crew of Filipinos came in and sat behind us, so of course it wasn't long before my parents had exchanged names and phone numbers with them. That's one thing I love about Filipinos: when they meet, they're bound to start chatting like they've known each other for a while.

Friday, July 18, 2014

crying and smiling: it's been a weird week

This past week I got: 1. laid off via text message, and 2. dumped (platonically) via letter. I cried in a Panera at one point. And crying-induced headaches? That's definitely a thing.

I should probably point out that me crying = not a particularly rare phenomenon. If I haven't cried over something silly in a few weeks, life is going TOO well I think. Crying's good! It's...healthy! (Someone please find the research to back me up on this.) If I get upset relatively often, Mario says that's just because I "live harder." When I'm happy, I'm HAPPY, and when I'm sad, I'm crushed. I don't actually mind that thought. Live openly, even if it means occasional disappointment, that's me motto. I should probably get shorter mottos.

The way this past week was going, I kept hoping that life would send me a little victory, just a teensy something (and no, the pumpkin ice cream that I bought in bulk the other day from my favorite ice cream shop does not count). And it did! Or God did, maybe. And that teensy something gets to join my list of....

"5 Things That Made Me Smile This Week" 

or "Stress the Small Stuff" 

or "Distractions From a Slightly Awful Week":

1. Impulse-buying some of my favorite childhood candies

This is what I get for strolling into a Five Below for the first time in ages. I knew there was a reason I stopped going in there. As you can see, I didn't get into chocolate until middle school. 

20 year-old Vanessa's impressions: Air Head Xtremes, not as good as I remember them. Baby Bottle Pop, TWICE as good as I remember it. (Gotta say, though, not digging the new Blow Pop wrapper design. The old ones have a certain charm to them. But I do love fact that they have a raspberry flavor now, as it seems I want raspberry-flavored everything these days.)

2. Nina Simone's cover of "Here Comes the Sun"

I heard this for the first time while driving to Mario's a few days ago during that glowy time of evening, when the sun kind of gently filters in. I was LIVIN for the piano solo at 2:12. It just makes me so happy, how it sounds like an ice cream truck tune for a few seconds and jumps all over the keyboard.

3. Getting my class requirements list from my study abroad program

It wasn't very long, and it doesn't sound like we need to really buy any books?

One of the items was "a willing body and soul." So... I think acting school is going to be great slash potentially weird. But great.

4. The fact that these things exist


I went thrifting with Molly this past Saturday, and BOY oh boy. That little number on the left, the one from Victoria's Secret? It's hard to see clearly, but that is indeed a black button down shirt body suit. Except the bottom of the body suit is a sheer thong. That is office wear and lingerie at the same time. Because the world needed this.

The crop top on the right needs no explaining. Leopard print on top of roses on top of cute kitten. Molly and I giggled over the fact that the brand on the label is called "Self Esteem."

5. Annnd last but not least, a little bit of news in my inbox...

I don't want to get my hopes up, of course, but just being a finalist in a national scholarship competition for Asian artists is really, really cool. More news on how this all turns out in the coming weeks. In the meantime, yaaaaayasjf;oiajwe;fawj!

I wrote it on my tumblr, and I'll write it again: when life gives you lemons, cry a little. Then cry some more, and maybe buy some ice cream and candy (don't eat it all at once). Listen to good music. Listen to Nina Simone when she sings that "it's all right." Rinse and repeat.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Recently Bought / Recently Watched

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Bag - ESPRIT (thrifted)  //  Shorts - Madewell (thrifted) 

Scored a preppy little bag and floral cutoffs last week, along with some other goods. Thrift shops are on the few-and-far-between side here in my corner of South Jersey, and we're not the MOST fashion-forward part of the state, but now and then you find unexpected brands.

I realize now that I can thank one person for everything pictured in my bag below. Mario is not only my best/boy friend of over two years, but also my most trusted authority on television and movies. He's consumed an intimidating amount of media. Thus he has an impressive DVD/Blu-Ray/Criterion collection which I dip into regularly. (Side brag: I think he should try to be IN one of those TV shows and movies he watches so much because he's a veddy talented actor. And future psychiatrist. Maybe he can be both at the same time! actor who plays a doctor.)

As for the little brown book tucked next to Pacific Rim, the one that looks like a mini Bible? That's actually an iPhone case Mario bought me last Christmas. You know it's love when he can buy gifts you didn't even know you wanted.

, as many fans noticed, bordered on the ridiculous this season. ALL the fan service, everywhere. But! I still found lots of it entertaining (though not mind-blowing). The mind palace sequences got a cool upgrade--I really love the one from His Last Vow--and the production quality remains high. Some sequences are definitely overproduced though. I really loved the way they integrated Mary into the story all around, and Lars Mikkelsen was fabulously unsettling as Augustus Magnussen. He has a quieter energy than Moriarty--different, but equally terrifying.

On the other hand, I'm still surprised by how much I enjoyed Pacific Rim. Watched it twice in one week. And I don't usually go for sci-fi when I'm craving fantasy. It's fun, well-directed, and it even has a sense of humor. Charlie Day's in it! Exclamation point necessary because he just makes me happy in general. (Such little man. Such high voice. He's what I imagine a chipmunk would be like in human form.) Plus, it wasn't too scary or gory for Vanessa to handle; I can be an annoyingly delicate flower when it comes to film/TV. Yes, a few moments made me roll my eyes--usually line deliveries from the otherwise-fine male lead AND Heath-Ledger-doppleganger, Charlie Hunnam. Most importantly, it features strong, complicated Asian female lead played by Academy Award nominee Rinko Kikuchi. She manages to be a total cutie and fierce mofo all at once. Can't wait to see what else she does.