life

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Mar 18, 2013 / 4 notes

There is a professor from my alma mater who is dying from cancer.

Having graduated from that university almost three years ago, I hear bits and pieces about his progress on Facebook from still-current students I know there, though admittedly it is a dwindling pool. In every article I’ve seen whether it’s a news story or a tweet on him, he’s so damn brave. I wanted to cry when I read this article in particular. He isn’t bitter or hateful or complaining about the disease. It’s so much more than I could ever be.

I don’t know what it’s like to lose someone yet. All of my grandparents are still alive, my outside relatives are fine, my intermediate family safe and sound, and my closest friends are all here. In a moment all of that could change. Sometimes I try to mentally prepare myself for the moment that it does change and if something happens, I will know what to do and how to handle it. But I can’t. I don’t know how I would react if I lost someone I loved suddenly or received news that I would only have a limited amount of time left with them. And if it were me, diagnosed with cancer, I know I wouldn’t be as unafraid as he is. Not even close.

What I do know is that in the here and now, I feel so lucky. Especially with the college I went to where even post-grad it’s such an embracing community. CLU is my second family and I suspect it will be like that for a long, long time to come. Classmates and former professors alike still stay in touch, send each other messages, and write all over one another’s Facebook walls when we miss each other. I can’t imagine having gone to another school. I really can’t. That day when they sent me their university postcard in the mail, I looked at it once and I knew that was my university. 18 years old and I saw on that postcard what I couldn’t see in over 100 brochures, applications, and forms from other schools all over the country. But even by looking at a piece of paper and thinking I knew what I did couldn’t have prepared me for where being a student at that college took me and the people I would meet, many of which I cannot imagine a life without.

There is surely an alternate universe where I haven’t met any of these people and met entirely different ones instead with everyone I do know now walking around someplace else, completely oblivious to the fact that we would have never collided and maybe we’re all okay like that, not knowing what or who could be. But the more I think about it, the more I’m glad I didn’t live in that other world, no matter how green the grass can look. I’m thankful for where I am now and what I’ve got, even though I don’t say it enough, even though sometimes I can throw a pity party for one and fixate on smaller problems, and get into unnecessary arguments with friends and family and get hung up over money. In the end, life is a gift. It may not be exactly what you wanted and it may look differently than how you pictured it, but that’s not really the point of a gift now is it? How you use your life through every action and the words you say and the people you touch throughout it is what matters. I just wish it didn’t take me having to read about the slow death of someone I used to see on a daily basis to write this out.

Jul 6, 2012 / 4 notes

All The Emotions: Summarizing The Week That Was

Sometimes in life, we have moments where we truly feel like we’re growing up and finding out more about ourselves and others. These moments take place within ourselves and occasionally they’re out of body experiences, in which we step outside of who we are and quietly observe ourselves in third person action. My week was filled with these moments and realizations that were bigger than me in some forms but ultimately not too surprising in others.

(Note: Upon rereading this, I realize that the week that was is basically just two days written about here. So there’s that.)

Monday: My Lightbulb Bathroom Moment

I came to a conclusion on Monday when I was in the bathroom at work that I kind of already knew about myself. Like a small lightbulb lighting up in my head. Ready?

I am at my very best whenever I’m working constantly.

Wow, I’m so surprised! -says nobody who has known me since the age of 11 (when I first started working). But really now, this is important to me. There was an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie quit her columnist job to move to Paris with the Russian and Miranda is horrified, saying that she can’t quit her job because it’s who she is. “No it’s not who I am, it’s what I do.” Carrie snaps back. The reality of course is that Miranda is right because Carrie is what she does.

"We are what we repeatedly do" is one of my favorite quotes from Aristotle and both in the case of Carrie and myself, it couldn’t be more true. I write constantly, but last month I burned out for a moment there. I am of the belief that you write when you’re passionate and if you don’t have the passion working as your drive, then don’t write. Trust that the passion will return when it does and it will.

What brought me around was the death of Nora Ephron whom I’ve always had tremendous respect and fangirlish admiration for. A friend of mine pointed out to me that both Ephron and Jennifer Weiner, a great chick lit author, had gotten their start early on by attending and covering the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Which I did too!

Knowing that these great women’s minds had thought so much alike motivated me back into the game. I checked out a pile of books from the library, started reading, emailed all of my closest PR contacts (uh, there’s like 60+ on that list) and before long I was back where I felt at my strongest: in a sea of words and sentences and press releases asking me to try new mascaras. Later this month I’ll be North Carolina bound for a few days for a big surprise that only a slim handful of people know about. I don’t plan on discussing it outside of that slim few either. My dad has already described the impending visit to be “another feather for your cap” which is a perfect description of what’s to come.

When I’m working all of the time, everything feels right. I am whole. I am what I repeatedly do and what I repeatedly do (work and writing) fulfills both me and hopefully the people who read what I have to say.

Tuesday: Passing the Torch

I am particularly proud of the events that occurred on Tuesday because they had been in the making for some time. In my head, I had known I would make this proposal and after discussing it with my boss briefly and receiving her blessing, I knew there was no day like Tuesday to go ahead and offer it.

On Tuesday, I sat privately with my intern Kelsey and offered her the chance to come on full-time at the company after she graduates from college this year.

She said yes! It was a beautiful moment. I felt massively grown up all of a sudden. We both started crying almost immediately. Moments before the offer was made, we had both been discussing the senior year of college and she asked me if it goes by as fast as it looks.

"Well, not the first semester. But the second semester does. There’s a slow moment in January and then it takes off and doesn’t stop and all of a sudden it’s May." And that was the moment where it hit me. I remembered my own graduation two years ago and how when I graduated, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had a job interview lined up but that was it. No future career in place to jump into, no home post-dorm established. I’d like to be able to tell you that not having all of these security blankets made for an exciting adventure to come, that I was free to pursue whatever I wanted, but that’s not how it feels, not at all. You’ve read my Monday realization: I like working and need it to be myself. I also really like money and being able to pay my student loans and afford Starbucks lattes. Most of all, after all of the exams and studying and ceremonies and tearful farewells to best friends, I really wanted to be able to take a nap and you kind of need to live somewhere in order to do that.

I had always known I would ask Kelsey to stay on within the department if she wanted, but in that moment, that flashback to my own life, I saw that this question meant more than just keeping on a great employee. For the first time, I had the power to take a person’s future, uncertain as it may be, and erase the question mark and replace it with an exclamation point. The offer was bigger than me. I was both inside and outside of myself in asking the question. And when you see yourself on the outside is when you see just how far you’ve come from where you started, some 13 years ago when I was 11 and my job was assisting with Avon orders.

"Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit" is the other portion of the same quote from Aristotle. We never know where our lives will take us or the bigger plans in store. To practice excellence in what we are gifted at, to be thankful in the good things that come our way, and to continually pass that torch onward and upward to those that we meet and know is what we should do.

It’s what we are.

-Heather

May 9, 2012 / 5 notes

10 Things I Did Post Graduation

Want to hear something spooky? In less than a few days, it will have been 2 years since I graduated from college. 2 years!

ZOMG GUYZZZ I AM SOOOOOO OLD.

Just kidding. BUT AM I.

Graduating from college was a fairly underwhelming experience as I’ve noted every major graduation ceremony in my life has seemed to be. There’s a lot of waiting to get your piece of paper and handshake and then it’s all over and everyone clears out faster than lightning and has a meal together and goes home. Everything builds and builds and builds for at least a few hours and it all dies away too fast ending with everyone rolling back into the same routine as always. That never fails to stun me. You always think that post-grad your life will evolve into some sort of movie: scene one at the graduation reception with friends and family, scene two at a huge loft apartment signing a lease, scene three waltzing into your first day at work. Not so much. More like all the scenes take place at home and will continue to for a moment there because all these grown-up things after college take more time than you’d think. And there’s never a montage with ’80s music either.

I didn’t have a single blood relative present at my college graduation. This is not unusual behavior from my family. We don’t celebrate graduation ceremonies like the rest of North America does, all dolled up with a bouquet of balloons and presents and like 45 extended family members including grandparents and godparents and long lost cousins in attendance. In our family, graduation isn’t this crazy huge milestone you need to achieve in your life. It’s implied that you’ll obviously graduate from middle/high school but college is an entirely different matter. College for me has always been one of those “do it if you want to or not” matters. Being a part of a rather long military based family tree has the vast majority of my relatives rooting for all of us to do the army/navy route and when someone doesn’t (i.e. me) the ball is in my court to prove that my decision holds worth after graduation.

For my 8th grade ceremony, my parents went home immediately after with my brothers and didn’t stay for the reception which embarrassed the hell out of me because literally everyone in my grade did. I wound up walking home alone that night and crying. I do remember what I was wearing though- a very mature for my age LBD that I had bought myself with money from my first job.

In high school, my dad outright refused to attend the ceremony which in retrospect was kind of smart. It was a Catholic high school and the damn thing lasted for 3 and a half hours. My mom and brother went though. But they almost didn’t take me to my grad night lock-in after because of the ceremony going on and on into forever. I went to the lock-in, got a very cute caricature of myself as a superhero, won a mini fridge by basically laying on it in the prize room, wanted to tell a cute guy from my trig class that I liked him BUUUUUUT I shook his hand farewell instead because being cordial always wins out with me over expressing stronger emotions, went home at 5 AM with my mom, threw up on the way there because I hadn’t eaten anything all night but a stale cupcake, and went to work two hours later.

I’m still more or less the same person I was then six years later.

College! Nobody in my family went to that ceremony either. My old dorm roommate and her boyfriend (now fiance and also my intern coincidentally) went with me and took me out to lunch after which was so nice of them both that I wanted to cry. It made me feel special. Graduation is many things but above all, it’s a celebration. And for the first time, I got to experience the flip side of the coin that most graduates are accustomed to- toasting and cheering your scholarly accomplishments and the fact that for the most part, they’re over and it’s time for the real world to begin.

Since it’s that time of year again and both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post are handing out life lessons you won’t hear at commencement followed by a couple more you definitely won’t hear, I thought I’d add my two cents into the mix. But I’m not going to tell you what other people won’t tell you because you’ve probably already heard it all and thought “ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE OVERLY SAPPY OPTIMISM/PSEUDO WISDOM FROM A TWENTYSOMETHING/DOWNRIGHT DEBBIE DOWNERISMS.”

Those are the three categories most of this advice typically falls under:
a) the “you can do it eventually!” stats based gold star smiley faces advice.
b) some twentysomething writing in Thought Catalog about their two years “on life’s journey” that their parents co-signed for.
c) a big mess of anger masking itself for an educational article that was probably due to the writer having a lousy college experience and not drinking as much as they should have.

These are just 10 things I did post graduation and learned from.

1) I ate cheaply and budgeted all of my grocery things. There were a lot of Ramen noodles, waffles, and quesadillas happening in my world. Over the summer upon graduating I did have ONE weekend where I went crazy with the grocery store budget- for a BBQ that my friends were coming over for- and I bought like $70 worth of food. Even got the brand name BBQ sauce. CRAY. But otherwise it was hello, coupons and sales.

2) I lived with another set of roommates. For the most part, post college this is a smart thing to do if you want to live with people who aren’t your parents and save money at the same time while living in (hopefully) sweet quarters on your own. My first apartment is still my current apartment for the sheer reason that it is 100 times nicer than anything I expected to be living in. Hasn’t even been two years in the joint yet and I still absolutely adore it.

3) I took on a job that I hated to pay my way through life for nine months. Sometimes the first job out of college blows and you do it for survival purposes. If you’re in that situation, suck it up and deal and keep looking for something better. It’s really all you can do, outside of unemployment.

4) I didn’t give up on the things I liked. I still wrote quite a bit in an old blog of mine. It was one of the biggest releases I had after a long day of awful. The nice thing about blogging is that it just is. You can dump all of your words and issues out into a space and bitch and moan. Not everything you say is going to fall out of you painstakingly tidily and with eloquence in every single sentence and nor should you make it either. Just be and express yourself as yourself. Same goes for artwork, music, and most every other creative outlet you can think of.

5) I spent a lot of time reading in bookstores. This was awesome because I was finally able to catch up on books I didn’t have the time for during college.

6. I blew through my savings. Inevitable when you aren’t employed for two months and then get hired on a very crappy minimum wage. To almost run out of money is a terrifying thing when you don’t have a lot to begin with, but steady yourself and face that fear head-on. Money is replaceable. Money is liquid. I often thought of Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) from the Watchmen graphic novel and how he purposefully gave away all of his money he inherited to build himself from the ground up financially from absolutely nothing. Aside from the whole not having an inheritance thing, I found the image to be one that was comforting. Don’t worry though, I don’t plan on attacking the world with a giant squid or anything.

7. I stayed optimistic and kept job searching on a daily basis. It is and was a terribly, terribly hard thing to do, particularly when the news increasingly got more and more realistic day in and day out. I can’t tell anyone how to be hopeful that things will get better. I can’t create hope in anyone. It takes you to make it in yourself, corny as that may sound. However you find a glimmer of hope, in whatever capacity, take it and hang onto it and don’t let that sucker go for nothing. Find a way to make it grow and burn brighter with each day.

8. I kept up with my networking contacts. Ironically enough, I was almost hired by a company that the company I currently work for is partners with. To date, one of my best contacts has been my university. It has an excellent reputation out here and everyone knows at least one or more people who work there.

9. Sometimes I’d dream myself to a better place at night. This was especially true when I had that terrible job. It was as though my head was like, “Alright your waking life is blowing the big one right now, let’s put you someplace nicer in your nightdreams.” And it usually was. I’d have dreams about sunlight and riding bikes and fields of flowers and laughter and spending time with people I used to know and didn’t know and in places that I had never been to before. I say sometimes here because you can’t determine how your dreams will go, but for the most part mine were quite pleasant.

10. I still hung out with friends. During my two months of unemployment, my awesome former internship boss let me return to the office to work so I wouldn’t look like I had this gaping hole in my resume. I explored my new neighborhood. I learned how to cook. I put together my own set of furniture with nails and hammers and lots of swear words. I bought my first bed. I even went to Vegas that first year. Okay, maybe that’s not a good example of scrimping and pinching but all saving and no spending makes Heather a very dull person indeed. I also still found ways to laugh or make a joke which to this day I still find incredibly important to getting through the tough times. The remarkable aspect was that I found a way to make jokes or find something that made me smile multiple times a day. Times may be a’changing and hard for dreamers but you have to gather yourself up and keep on living (L-I-V-I-N).

… I think that may be the most pop culture references I ever stuffed into one sentence.

-HT

Apr 20, 2012 / 6 notes

My Version of 23 Secrets to Improving Your Life

The editor-in-chief of WomenOnTheFence.com Erica Diamond recently wrote up an article on the Huffington Post on spending the weekend travelling up to Toronto with her mom to attend Oprah’s Lifeclass Tour. I know. I didn’t know she had one either. The tour did not consist of just the Big O as the speaker alone- other speakers included Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins, all of which dished on 23 secrets to improving your life.

The secrets were of the nicely written variety that in some cases ultimately sound worse than they appear. “Leap and the net will appear.” “Your story is what blocks you from your breakthrough.” “Act like you know you’re golden.”

Oh lord.

Here’s my version of the 23 secrets to improving your life I didn’t see mentioned. In no particular order:

1. Laugh. It’s really the key to all issues big and small- if you can find something to laugh about or make a joke out of, do it.

2. Michael Bluth: What have we always said is the most important thing?
George Michael Bluth: Breakfast
Michael Bluth: Family
George Michael Bluth: Oh, right. Family. I thought you meant of the things you eat.

-Arrested Development
(basically put family and breakfast on the same level of importance in your life)

3. If you love what you do, show it. Make everyone feel your passion before you can.

4. If you love someone, make sure they know it. If possible make it known on a daily basis.

5. Go to Disneyland or Disneyworld at least once. Even if you aren’t “a Disney person” do it. Stay for the fireworks show.

6. Smile.

7. Get angry every once in a while. This is not a popular idea for “life improvement” but trust me your life is going to suck if you never, ever get upset over anything and keep it all bottled up inside.

8. Learn how to cook a good meal that doesn’t come out of a bag or a box.

9. "Have 2 glasses of wine, have 10 glasses of wine."
-Betty Caruso, Bronx Beat, SNL
(LIVE. BY. THIS.)

10. Travel and move around. Book all of your flights in advance though so that you not only have time off from work to go, you can get a cheaper seat and hotel this way.

11. "Treat Yo Self"
-Donna and Tom, Parks and Recreation
(Indulge yourself every now and then, especially on a bad day.)

12. Do your own thing and ignore anyone who talks trash on it. Those people only do that because they’re jelly of you and your free-thinking self.

13. "Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!"
-the awesome Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus

14. Dress up even if you think you’re going nowhere special. Every day is worth a little extra effort and sometimes the day can surprise you.

15. Cynthia: God, don’t you ever feel like everything we do and everything we’ve been taught is just to service the future?
Tony: Yeah I know, like it’s all preparation.
Cynthia: Right. But what are we preparing ourselves for?
Mike: Death.
Tony: Life of the party.
Mike: It’s true.
Cynthia: You know, but that’s valid because if we are all gonna die anyway shouldn’t we be enjoying ourselves now? You know, I’d like to quit thinking of the present, like right now, as some minor insignificant preamble to something else.

-Dazed and Confused
(I quote this movie too much. But yeah, enjoy yourself where you are right now.)

16. If you have good health, be thankful for it. On a daily basis I am thankful for my legs and that they can walk everywhere and my eyes for seeing stuff and the fact that I don’t have liver problems and things like that. It’s always taken for granted, always.

17. Go to the top of a very tall building and look down at everything below and think a little bit from up there. It may change your train of thought on your place in the world.

18. Read, goddamnit, read.

19. Sleep in and/or nap it out.

20. Hang out on the beach and in the ocean as many times as you humanly can. Wear sunscreen though. That’s pretty important.

21. Exercise and stretch even if it hurts. Actually it should hurt to some degree if you’re doing it right.

22. "Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t."
-Baz Luhrmann, Everyone’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)
(This song is deep. You should listen to it. Also, listen to lots of music, as much as humanly possible.)

23. And remember: party on Wayne, party on Garth.

Mar 20, 2012

"That Conversation"

I had “that” conversation last night with 1/4 of my roommates. You know the one. The one I had been avoiding- actually been too busy to sit down and have. That little thing called “are we all renewing the lease in June at our fabulous apartment?”

As it turns out, no seems to be the unanimous reply all around. Or at least all half around. Two of us are moving out for sure and my other roomie I have no idea what she wants to do because I haven’t spoken to her yet.

Me? I wanna stay. I think I do anyway.

This is such a tough and terrible decision to make because it’s going to be April very soon and March for better or for worse has been a month of a lot of important decisions and growth for me. I’m lying about that actually- it was really all for the better. I learned more about how much I can handle and what I can’t, what I like doing and what I don’t, bits and pieces of my old self that I’ve missed very much and am bringing back into the fold of my current self, and most importantly I’ve been taking the time to work on a side project that I’ve been researching for about 5 years now. Making some strong progress on it too.

I feel like every time I think I know myself, I learn something new that I didn’t know was there before. It’s frustrating and amazing at the same time because through this way I’m consistently surprised at the girl I am and who I’m becoming. Then I don’t like it because I can’t fully predict just how much I will in actuality like or enjoy one particular thing anymore. I wish I could just blindly love all of the things that on the surface I should appear to love, what looks like it’s just right for me, but I don’t and I can’t because often times they have a weird underbelly of their own to grapple and deal with.

I don’t know what I want to do about moving either. I love my apartment very much and would be happy to settle into a one bedroom if I can’t find two more roommates (or one, depending on if my other roomie is good to stay). But the first thing that just about everyone has asked me when I mentioned I did want to renew the lease was, “What about San Francisco? We thought you wanted to move there!”

I did and I do. But there was an incident that occurred at my job a few months ago that involved a coworker attempting to worm his way into my department even though he didn’t work there or have any experience. What he attempted to do I immediately put the kibosh on because it directly affected my interns and I and I told my boss about it and along with several other coworkers suffering difficulties with him, he got canned. The funny thing was the entire time all I could think to myself was my god, what if I wasn’t there? What if I had been doing the telecommuting work somewhere else and hadn’t been there in person to defend our positions in the manner I did? An email is one thing but out of sight can lead to out of mind… so I’ve been more hesitant that usual to get out of the general area.

I don’t have the things that other girls my age do. I don’t have a car and I don’t have a boyfriend or family out where I live. If I fall, I must catch myself because there is no one there to do it for me. And I cannot rely on other people to be my safety net either. I have never been that kind of person. My entire life has been a process of going at it alone which 90% of the time I truly don’t mind. I’m very comfortable with being alone and inside of my own head. But the 10% of the time when you need moving assistance or help, well, there’s where being alone is the pits.

I may move and I may not. I may stay within the general area I’m in or I may move to a different one close by. I don’t know today because it’s impossible to know that answer so soon. But I want to be able to make both my heart and head happy and right now to do something like that is going to prove to be a difficult challenge.

HT

Feb 16, 2012 / 9 notes

That One Time I Went To New York Fashion Week

Herein comes a monster of a blog post recounting the time I spent in New York City for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2012. It’s late I know. I’m running behind on everything right now and working hard to catch up while also trying not to succumb to the crippling exhaustion I’ve been facing for nearly a week now. In order to keep from spewing all of the details of the story around in no particular order, I’m grouping up everything under headers to try to keep it a bit more organized. Because this weekend was absolutely crazy. Lots of highs. Some lows. I thought a lot and came to some conclusions too. I’m not totally sure what it all means yet.

In a hipster perfect world I guess I would say that I’m a person going through the struggle of life and balance and not understanding why I can’t have the life inside of my head match up to the life I lead right now and that I accept the love I think I deserve. No wait, that last bit was a line from The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

In the real world I’d just say I worked myself to the bone to get (and still keep getting) to where I’m going. And sometimes when you work to the bone, it delivers on giving you what you want and never thought you might one day get. Or at least get so soon in life.

The Backstory

I had known I would be attending NYFW since last December and kept it quiet from nearly everyone I knew outside of my editors for a long time. The website I freelance for had originally invited me to attend in September but at that time I wasn’t totally ready to go in terms of taking time off because I had just gotten back from a trip home over the summer. When I renewed my contract with the site, it was heavily implied I would be going to the Fall/Winter February 2012 shows.

I thought about whether or not to go for the longest time. You’d think this would be an easy no-brainer for me, an immediate “yes!” because I am the same girl who once aspired to attend college on the East Coast and become her own version of Carrie Bradshaw. 6 years later and instead of giving in to my heart’s desires at once, I rationized everything instead. This event would mark the first time I would go to New York City and my first visit to the East Coast. Financially, it would be an expense (duh) and my editor was kind enough to offer me a place to stay at her apartment to save on dinero. What made me decide I would for sure attend was a tiny, nagging voice inside of my head that said I may never get this chance again. I would be attending New York Fashion Week at 24 and the age aspect was another big push in the direction to say yes. There is no guarantee in life that you will be able to be successful at all junctures of your existence and certainly no guarantee you’ll always get priority standing room for couture designer shows either. So I went with that gut feeling but turned down my editor’s room and board offer. I am often adamant that when I go travelling, I do it on my own terms which means everything from the hotel to the flight to the eats is funded by myself. Since I now have a job that pays me a sufficient amount of money to not have to settle for tiny cramped quarters and cheapo foods (like college did) I can splurge to a degree and not feel as pinched. Before I left for New York, I worked like crazy to ensure that my interns were all settled work wise and that I tied up all other loose ends. I am THAT kind of manager- you will never catch me abandoning ship without assigning the crew instructions for a smooth sailing.

I need to point out one other thing. I was not in New York for fun and sightseeing and touristy stuff. I went there for work and work I did. I had a blast and went out for lunch and coffee with several awesome people but I did not get a chance to meander around aimlessly and explore. Despite my hotel’s proximity to Central Park and Times Square, I didn’t have time to go to either. I spent almost all of my time at Lincoln Center, Milk Studios, and backstage at Lincoln. On the morning I left to go home, I woke up at 6 AM just to be able to quickly run down to Fifth Avenue and see the stores there before my airport shuttle came and got me. There will be time for sightseeing in another trip. Just not this one. And that’s not the purpose of this trip anyway.

For my first visit, this was strictly fashion.

*For the next set of headers, they will be grouped up by The Shows, The Presentations, and Backstage. Altogether I attended 10 showings in 2 days (this is A LOT to do). 5 were shows in which you sit there and the models proceed on the catwalk- the standard ones everyone knows about. 2 were presentations which is where models pose in a big room and you can walk up to them and take photos- not as high energy as the shows but definitely allows the viewer to take a photo without blur and catch the detailing on the couture. And 3 were backstage in which you watch everyone get made up for the shows. Generally backstage is 2-3 hours before the show begins. For all of these shows, there is a lot of waiting around because absolutely nothing ever starts on time. I’m not going to discuss my favorites or least favorites either because each show was pretty awesome in its own right and I liked at least one thing about each one… though if they had to be ranked in terms of favoritism Mara Hoffman would be last and Falguni and Shane Peacock would be numero uno.*

*Also, I took over 500 photos and over 30 videos- clearly not every single one will be included here but I will be including some of the choice ones.*

The Shows

Ruffian

You always remember the first act and this was the only show I saw that incorporated concerto music with the clothing collection. Ruffian was all about ’40s noir meets Marlene Dietrich- lots of plaids, tailoring, structure, and hats, lots of jewel tones too. It was also very short- about 20-30 looks presented. Most shows feature a minimum of 30-40, and in some cases 70 or more (Venexiana). You can watch a very, very short snippet of the show here- when I did filming, I tried to film every runway show’s opening, close, and a very seconds/minutes of the actual show’s middle. The rest of the time I was taking notes.

You can read the article I wrote about Ruffian here.

Son Jung Wan

A pairing of Lana Del Rey songs alongside models in knitwear. I had mixed feelings about this collection. There was gorgeous detailing on some of the dresses and I loved the furs but the opening looks looked like a bunch of potato sacks on the stage. Not feeling the beige man, I am all about color, spark, and embellishments.

Mara Hoffman

This one took place in the stage and the crowds were huge. During this show I was seated next to a writer named Lloyd who was very amusing and we bonded over our mutual distaste for Alison Brod PR (long story for another time, has nothing to do with NYFW). It was nice to talk to someone who wasn’t taking themselves so damn seriously too… which is one of the biggest downsides to fashion week. It’s the ego, the air of self-importance that fills the air of every corner of the room to a choking point. It comes with the territory of creating this fantasy world that only a handful of the earth’s population will ever be able to inhabit and even then they’ll still be forced to alter their self image for each season.

I won’t get into it any more than that. I like fashion quite a bit but I have a love/hate relationship with the people who work behind the seams so to speak. Some of them are very nice and awesome and hard-working cool people. Others are assholes who will not deign to speak to you unless you’re swathed in Westwood or come with a title of sorts such as being Grace Coddington’s distant niece. You can always tell the ones who are stuck on themselves because they do not laugh or smile or exhibit human emotions beyond this very bizarre smirking that comes with seeing someone who is somewhat important and attempting to register on their horizon…. but I’m getting off topic. Mara Hoffman was all about muted shades and draping and a mix of cowgirl cool which I feel like I see everywhere and therefore didn’t feel challenged by the collection.

Venexiana

AKA the collection that was at the end of the night on Saturday at 9 PM but worth the wait. I wanted to wear EVERYTHING in it. This video will never, ever be able to do it justice. From the moment that that ivory blouse popped out with so many crystals stuck in it you’d never need jewelry accessories again, I was hooked. There was such a punk rock vibe during this show- it was excessive with the crystals everywhere, ridiculous (one dress had a sequined serpent on the shoulder), gaudy with bright colors, and full-on attitude. It was all about a girl who had decided to embellish her personality onto hand-me-downs from her mother’s wardrobe and didn’t give a fuck who saw it or liked it. Despite the fact that only one model had boobs that could hold her dress up, it was a visual feast. Kati Stern, ya did good.

You can also see a model trip in the video. Not the first or last time that happens…

Falguni & Shane Peacock

Why did I love this line like I did? One word: eyebrows. The eyebrows in this show were damn good. The tragedy in filming the show, much like filming all of the runway shows, is that the lights and cameras are so bright that it makes it impossible to clearly see the faces of the models. But the eyebrows were fucking insane, the ponytails were long and sleek, the heels were spiked, and the dresses were tight and graphic printed. Couture martians crash landing on earth. And whoever DJ’d this did a seriously sick job.

The Presentations

Erin by Erin Fetherston

I interviewed Erin right before the presentation began (who bears such a striking resemble to my good friend Melissa it startled me) and she was cheerful and friendly. The entire collection was stunning. Lots of sequins, floral prints, some furs. The enchanted forest was the theme here and it was captured effortlessly. There was a woman in the room playing an actual harp. Not a recording, a full-blown harp.

Lorena Sarbu

Have you ever seen a model pass out during a show? I did and it was scary. The Sarbu presentation was filled with dresses and gowns that were just stunning and in some ways, reminiscent of Elie Saab’s work (the flow in particular was fine and much like liquid). One of the models collapsed after I had finished taking her photo and had to leave. From there on out, a manager went around to make sure the rest of the girls standing there posing were alright.

The girl on the left who fainted about 5-10 minutes after this photo was taken.

You can read the article I wrote about Lorena Sarbu here.

Backstage

Tibi w/Bobbi Brown

The beautiful and super talented Kimberly Sloane, director of global artistry for Bobbi Brown, hard at work on creating a defined eyebrow, the signature look of the Tibi show. This was my first backstage show and I quickly learned that for many of them, you watch a demonstration with a group and take fast notes. Sometimes you get to interview the makeup/hair artists after but not always- they usually have more models to get through and are caught in a time crunch.

You can read the article I wrote about Bobbi Brown here.

Beauty products from the show, on the other hand, you never have to fight them for their attention!

I got to wander around and check out other interesting going-ons during this one. One in particular was quite harrowing to watch- a nail polish expert who was hard at work pulling off the fake fingernails on a model for the Tibi show. The model was almost in tears and had her hand in a little paper cup of water so I had to investigate and see what was up. The verdict? Apparently the show prior to Tibi that the model had been in, the nail artist had glued on her fingernails which you are never, ever supposed to do. It makes them impossible to pry off and then you have to scrap all of the glue off before you can even get to the polish portion.

Jesus Christ. Everyone backstage at this show deserved a metal for their tireless work. Never enough credit that can be given.

Joy Cioci w/Marie Robinson Salon & Tommy Buckett

I got to interview Tommy Buckett from the Marie Robinson Hair Salon who was an utter joy to chat with, albeit I had to do it extremely fast because there was a group behind me. I watched him create a waterfall braid with the model’s hair and we discussed the disheveled look (very in) and his deepest desire for all girls to be daring and get their hair cut short.

Zac Posen w/John Frieda & Luigi Murenu

From the moment I walked backstage into this show, the entire mood and vibe was radically different from Joy Cioci and Tibi, both of which had been much more playful. Zac Posen was very serious, quiet, and concentrated. Even the entrance was different- no tent behind the box or stage to enter, you had to go in through the David Koch Theatre downstairs entrance and I and an intern with Vogue were shuttled down through a labyrinth of hallways to get downstairs to the right room.

Posen’s show was going to include several big guns in the style world (including my lady love Dita Von Teese) in attendance and the show reflected it, not going with messy, effortless chic updos but highly structured ones that were inspired by Japanese architecture. I took a lot of videos and photos here. What killed me was that I literally had to RUN out to a show after and couldn’t stay for as long as I wanted to but this is true of so many of the events of NYFW.

Before I ran out though, I met the lovely Coco Rocha…

… and got to keep my pass backstage!

Conclusion?

So… do I love New York? Do I want to be a part of it and have you start spreading the news that I’m leaving today?

I have a lot of feelings about New York and writing them down sounds stupid every single time. Even thinking them makes me feel like an idiot because I can’t convey how they make me feel properly. And I have tried. I really have.

There were a lot of misconceptions I had about New York City prior to being there.

1) It’s dirty.

It’s not actually, it’s surprisingly cleaner than I thought it would be.

2) People are rude.

That one was complete and total bullshit. Never before have I had so many people actively want to talk to me- and I’m not just talking about the Lincoln Center bloggers/writers/photographers. People are more in a hurry in New York than anything else but who could blame ‘em? I was one of them that weekend, running around hailing cabs and dashing from building to building in 20 degree weather. There’s a lot to do, a lot to see and a world at your feet that won’t wait.

3) Probably no guys will hit on me.

This one I created inside of my head because I know the ratio of women to men in NYC is considerably higher. I face issues in California when it comes to finding guys. Like a lot. I do not fit the mold where I live because I don’t have big tits, refuse to act like I’m an idiot who wants to get insta-famous, and I’m not rail thin (you’re talking to the girl who ran like she was on fire when she saw the Dunkin Donuts sign on her walk back to the hotel one evening). I thought this mold-issue thing would probably translate to the East Coast as well.

MY GOD WAS I EVER WRONG. Men of every single nationality hit on me like there was no tomorrow. One man asked me to marry him. It was a joke but sweet Jesus what was going on here?? I’m not so shallow to say that I felt appreciated just because these guys were all grinning and waving to me and not making lewd comments in my presence but it certainly made me smile a lot more. There’s something I didn’t anticipate I’d do there- smile. But I did and I did a lot.

I met up with my favorite old professor Don while I was there. The last time I had seen Don, I was still in college and about to graduate and he was about to move to NY with his wife to teach. Now it’s nearly two years later and he’s the proud papa of a six month old baby and I’m working within the field of my dreams and writing every single day. We’re different people now than we were then but nothing has changed- we were able to immediately jump right back into easy conversation within seconds of seeing each other.

Don asked me if I could see myself moving to New York and I blurted out no right away and then backtracked, saying I wasn’t sure. It’s impossible for me to answer this question in any capacity because I literally don’t know. Circumstance will be the only judge of knowing where I may go next in life- that, and the people that come into my life and present me with opportunities. I can steer myself there if I want to, but knowing my history of steering, my boat tends to go in better places than the ones I originally aimed for.

When I got back to California, I was happy and resentful all at once. Like New York I loved and hated where I was simultaneously. There were a lot of feelings to swallow and being me, once again I don’t have much time to touch on them. Too many other responsibilities screaming my name to pay attention to.

For as much as I smiled in the city, since getting back I have felt the overwhelming need to cry.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to live in a place that will fulfill all of my needs and that in itself scares me because sometimes I don’t even know what all of my needs are. Sometimes I tell myself that it’s like a puzzle with missing pieces and I just need to collect them all to create a whole. But I don’t think it works that way anymore. You can create the picture and it can be beautiful and complete but there is still an emptiness left over. You’re done. When I do this with puzzles, I look at them for one moment in their full form and then pull them apart and shake it all up and start over again. Sometimes I buy a new puzzle or keep working on the same one until the pieces become familiar.

Ultimately, what I think will happen with me is that I’ll just always keep building and looking for what I need. To say I will find it is not for me to know though. What I do know and what I have always known is that no matter what happens, I will write it all. Through the writing, not a single memory or moment may ever die or end.

The boat always sails in the direction it’s meant.

Love,
HT

Feb 3, 2012 / 2 notes

Daze of the Week

A look at my collective emotions Monday-Friday:

Monday: “Awesome day! I had a good weekend, got plenty of sleep last night and caught up on everything I needed to have done for Monday. I have a tasty coffee in my hand and I’m ready to take on the day! Gonna see my intern, gonna write a bunch, Family Guy marathon tonight on TBS. Bring it Monday, bring it!”

Tuesday: “I stayed up late last night still riding the weekend high and I’m exhausted. I have so much to do it scares me. Seriously though how do I have so much stuff? I could work all day on Monday and still not be done with Tuesday’s work! What am I gonna write about for the Forbes post??? I have Shine postings too- and I need to work on some articles. Hair is about to be ripped out. Coffee is gone and it’s only 8:15 AM. Is there time to troll through Tumblr quickly? No? Is there time for lunch? No. What about a bathroom break? … no? Halp. HELP MEEEEEEEEE. Also there’s nothing on TV tonight except for Glee and we all know that doesn’t count as actual TV.”

Wednesday: “Okay. We made it through the Tuesday wilderness and came out on the other side. It’s the middle of the week. Halfway there. Almost. There. The meetings today break up the day nicely. I love that. Still stayed up late though. Will I ever learn, internets, will I?”

Thursday: “Pretty sure my roommates haven’t seen me in 4 days now. I’m officially a hermit. But on Thursdays I have Parks and Rec to count on and Sunny. Why just last night, there was a Katt Williams stand-up on Comedy Central and that made my Thursday even more special! (“Crackheads in Cincinnati be working HARD!”). Newsletter lineup here we go! Articles here we go! Tweeting and Facebooking in three, two, one! Dancing in my chair from great emails. I do this on all days of the week though tbh.”

Friday: “Wild card!!! And Friday!! Bagels in the morning, newsletter work during lunch, writing and answering emails nonstop and at 5pm I get to go out with the besties! Or on a slow Friday go home and watch old Project Runway marathons! Austin Scarlett 4 lyfe. Good life. A+ week. We did it week. Best week eva.”

As you can see I live my life on a steady diet of comedy programming, writing, staying up all night, happy chair dances, and the occasional panic attack.

HT

Jan 26, 2012 / 1 note

Better Days

Last night I stayed up watching The Descendants online, through a SAG approved upload somebody was very kind to make. The biggest thing I came away from the movie with? My want to visit Hawaii deepened (my brother lives there) and my appreciation for the West Coast overall got stronger.

If you had told me in high school that I would be living in California by the time I hit 24- and that at said age, it would make my fourth year of working and living there I wouldn’t have believed you. You see in high school my world revolved around the East Coast and a deep dream to live in New York City and have a very fabulous Carrie Bradshaw inspired lifestyle. This all changed the day that fate cut me a different hand in the form of a postcard from the university I never knew existed before but the moment I saw it, I just knew I’d go there. And this particular university was on the West Coast.

Either way I could have chosen to go, I would have gone in a different direction. Literally. I’m originally from the Missouri in the Midwest which is smack dab in the middle of the United States so really the only logical directions to leave in are either left or right. Up or down. And with plenty of family and experience in the up and down areas, I wanted for something left or right.

In less than 3 weeks, I’ll be visiting New York for the first time to attend and cover Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2012. 16 year old Heather has worked herself into a screaming fit and is frantically combing her favorite online stores for a new dress. The 24 year old version of me is a bit more restrained only because she’s got 15 million work related projects on her plate and taking a moment to scream with delight needs scheduling. Doesn’t mean I’m not excited though. I can’t wait to go and am currently clearing my head of any expectations I may have to avoid early disappointments. Though… how do you get disappointed at NYFW? You don’t!

This is an opportunity that is a diamond in the rough in so many ways for me. I may never get invited to attend an event like this again. Or I may become a recurring fixture there for years to come. There is absolutely no way of knowing which is what life is so good at doing. It’s all a huge gamble, of being in the right place at the right time, of fate and kismet and karma and luck and who you know and doing what you love and the rest will come. These are the things we use to describe moments that can’t be described. There is no true way to know just how to describe a moment in time within our lives like this but I will try:

It’s really fucking amazing!!!!!!!!!

There you have it. That’s how you describe an indescribable moment.

I don’t know what I might have been like had I not moved here. These are weird thoughts to have because when I think about all of the people I’ve met and loved and hated and encountered, I have no idea how I can imagine a world without the impact they made on me. I like to think that for all those lives we never reach, they are content to their own degree but always searching. I think we’re all always searching to see who we can stumble into and touch. It’s a life less lived otherwise. Sometimes I envision this little outline of myself walking around in different cities that I haven’t been to yet, waiting for me to come and fill it out so we can explore and see and meet new people.

There’s no real way of knowing what my personality might have been like in other places but I’m quite content with how it turned out in California. I’m much more laidback here than I was at home. They say that the eldest child of the family is the one who gets the most attention paid to and to some degree I can agree with that. But it’s different with every family. Yes, I was driven to push myself and do a lot and work hard to be a good role model and big sister and student but there were a lot of times where I felt incredibly forgotten about. And I was growing up too. That can’t be forgotten. I had mood swings and yelled a lot and went through a ton of clothing and music phases which all began happening right around when I was 13 and more or less wrapped up by 17 during which I watched different people begin the same phases I had just ended.

Watching The Descendants made me realize something about my life. I seriously cannot live anywhere where there is no water nearby again. By water, I mean the ocean. I am a city girl through and through but I love knowing that I can escape for the afternoon to the beach. I’ve also built up an intolerance for cold weather over the years too. Can’t go back to 5 below again, nope, nope, not happening. And I have a big love for big palm trees. They’re so majestic.

On a pontification note, where I live next is anyone’s guess. You all know that I love San Francisco quite deeply. The visit to New York may inspire a deep love too. I fear that potential love. I’m scared it might push the SF love away. I think that’s why I have delayed going for as long as I have actually. Oh the irony of this shiz- girl who likes to travel is afraid to travel because she doesn’t want City B to cancel out the love for City A. I think they’ll probably be different sorts of loves, logically speaking though. However, work wise, there is a weird seed of a thought attempting to sprout. There is a quiet thought I do have from time to time in which Ikindawantacar. And an even quieter one thatwantstomovetomalibutobeclosertotheocean.

I mean, what?

These are the better days getting better all the time.

From a tale of two coasts,
Heather

Jan 23, 2012 / 11 notes

Frances Bridges, Forbes, and Unemployed Millennial Women

Frances Bridges and I could easily be the same person if you read her story.

As she points out in the opening to her first Forbes.com article, that’s kind of the point.

Since I write up pretty much everything that goes into my bosses’ Forbes account already, I am careful to follow along with the community there and read their blogs on a daily basis (with a comment here and there if it’s particularly on point). And I love it. I adore the community there because not a single person shares the same story and the ladies of Forbes Women especially are bright and smart and occasionally heart-wrenching and often hell-raising. It’s kind of like I’m hanging out in the school cafeteria at the table I always wanted to sit at but never believed I was cool enough to one day take up residency with.

Frances came about via Susannah Breslin, one of my very favorite bloggers because of her balls. The woman has got ‘em in spades and even though she has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, she’s not slowing down or stopping. She’s chronicling her journey through her blog and whether or not people want to hear about it or write about it, she’s not stopping for anyone or bowing down to meet anyone’s demands.

Susannah recently wrote a post on how she helped three very different people get jobs by extending the ultimate olive branch, the prestigious Forbes name on her blog, as a method to get their names out there. Though extension alone didn’t cut it. The three who got the jobs got them because they fought for the positions. Because, as Bridges writes in her first post in TheForbesWomen Files, the most important thing was to know what you wanted. Once you know, you can really start putting the wheels into motion.

Throughout my entire life I have wanted so many different occupations it’s been silly. And some of them were indeed really silly. When I was in the first grade, I wanted to work at McDonald’s when I got older because I really liked ice cream. I didn’t want to work anywhere else, just the ice cream maker where it was cold and creamy and delicious.

I didn’t actually wind up working at McDonald’s, btw. My road to life after college was just as stressful as the one that Frances Bridges took. Frances writes that she attended a Big 10 school, graduated in ‘10, packed up her car and took her life to Chicago where she was determined to strike it out as a writer but wound up getting any job but and spent many nights with the bottle of wine in the bathroom and the inability to move from bed.

I attended a private liberal arts school in Southern California. During this time, I was quite proactive on campus. I worked in the university marketing department. I was a tutor. I wrote for the school newspaper. I had three internships for a fairly well-regarded large newspaper, musical non-profit, and on campus assisting with the community service center. I was the assistant stage manager for one of the school plays and I studied hard and played often and slept woefully little. After graduating I was determined to move to San Francisco to become, guess whaaaaat, a writer! I had a job interview post-graduation there so after graduating, I packed up my five suitcases of stuff and moved into a hotel for the next two weeks.

And this was the beginning of when I watched my dreams explode all around me.

The job would have been perfect except that I would start off for three months with no pay then transition into pay. Maybe even then. It was no guarantee. And when the owner of the company (who is a very fine women that I still have no grudges or upset with whatsoever) told me the pay after the three months, I almost started laughing. There would be no way I would be able to pay for a life there, for the life I had envisioned within my head, and make my basic needs be met.

During these two weeks, at night I used to stand next to the hotel window that overlooked the city and lean my head outside of it staring at all of those people walking around, walking blissfully and free, free in my mind because they lived there and had a job and something that resembled a game plan for life together and I had none of that. And it’s the realization of knowing what you don’t have that is the scariest part. Knowing what you want is important yes, but knowing that you don’t have what you want and to some degree may not even truly know what the hell that even is… it’s terrifying. Like vomit inducing terrifying.

I wound up moving back to Southern California to live with an old college roommate of mine after I learned she had a vacancy in her apartment. What I did I don’t advise anyone to do because it was such a huge gamble. I wound up getting a job interview down there and called her and asked if the vacancy was still open. She said yes and I told her to hold it for me because I was booking my flight at that very moment to fly down to live with her.

All within that next week, the following happened:

I moved in, I signed my first lease, I didn’t get the job, I was unemployed for two months and lived in Barnes and Noble and went on a series of unsuccessful job interviews while drinking iced tea because it was like 89 degrees out and I ate through my savings on the apartment and ate a lot of waffles because I was poor (bless my roommate though who would make a dinner big enough for two and share it with me).

Then I did get my first job and it was in advertising which I initially thought I was so lucky to get because it was an actual copywriter position. Secure in the sense of being employed, I was finally able to pay for life and stuff. But this job would rear its ugly head on me and for the next nine months I would grow to hate it with a passion that if I were a slightly more malicious and less law abiding citizen would have easily resulted in arson. The rules of that place birthed a very toddler-esque behavior within me that had me pushing buttons just to see how far I could go. Meanwhile I applied my head off everywhere in the world I could and landed an interview at the place I’m currently working at (where I manage my bosses’ Forbes blog, incidentally). I had a quiet faith that I would get that job and when it did happen, I was so overcome with joy to leave that terrible agency behind that I nearly did not have time to get excited. Instead I mostly felt like crying. Tears of belated frustration, of happiness, of extreme exhaustion.

I resigned the next day and compiled a playlist to be blared all throughout the office. The resignation letter took five minutes to write and the playlist over an hour to create as I needed to be absolutely certain that Chef’s “Chocolate Salty Balls” was on it.

Frances Bridges didn’t play a South Park song to signal her farewell from a company she didn’t like, nor did she do it in a pair of cherry red high heels, but our stories have to differ at some point! I’m happy that right now, for a couple of journalistic gals about town, they ended up on positive notes. As of right now, I have a job I love (that I’m more likely to affectionately refer to as a ‘career’) and I do freelance writing at some pretty cool places. This is in the after, as in the before version of me I had some bad nights hanging out in my bedroom with a bottle of wine kept under the bed for safekeeping. But you need them. You need these nights. You need to hate the world for a little bit and complain while eating Twizzlers and make fun of your friends still in college for having homework and secretly hate that they have it so much you want to rip the assignment out of their damn hands and do it yourself. See? Not all unemployment moments are terrible. I felt like for all of the inadequacies I felt like I was facing, there were good moments in the mix. It seemed like everyone in my life was intent on keeping me laughing at all times. Whenever I laugh, I feel like life is gonna be okay. I plugged away day in and day out on the application front and stayed awake until ungodly hours of the morning to get that olive branch I needed extended before me.

I don’t regret it for a moment. Life could have gone a million ways. I could have moved back home or stayed in SF and met the poverty line or moved overseas and been deported after a month for lack of a dual visa but what I did was follow my gut and kept what I knew I wanted in front of me the entire time.

Which in my case was a blog on my computer screen. My blog. I blogged throughout all of these times and will continue to keep it up for a lifetime to come. Millennial women do and can make it. I promise you.

It happened to Frances and it happened to me.

Heather