Stranger than fiction copy

Is it possible to fall in love with a book?

I’m just wondering because I really think I’m in love with The Count of Monte Cristo. I’m probably not the first person who’s felt this way about this particular book (or that she felt like she could marry a bunch of words) but man this Alexander Dumas guy is GOOD!

I’ve recently decided to take a break from non-fiction which is what got me into The Count in the first place. Typically 80% of my reading time is consumed by news articles on the Internet and for a while, the remaining sliver was devoted to book on light and fluffy things like deconstructing race or understanding restorative justice. You know, stuff you read at the beach or on the toilet. Oh, wait, you don’t read A People’s History of the United States at the beach? Right, of course not. (No really, it’s not relaxing at all) While none of these were bad reads (completely the opposite actually!), sometimes it’s good to exercise your imagination in a way that only fictional literature can. And being the type who already over-analyzes everything, I figured could probably use a little whimsy.

It has been such a fantastic journey getting back into this genre. When I started reading The Count, I realized just how much great fiction lit I was missing out on. I’m only fourth of the way through, (it’s 1276 pages!) but I haven’t been able to put this book down! It’s truly is an “epic” read, in all senses of the word. And when you come across something really great, don’t you just want to share it with everyone? I could go on and on about the poignancy and sincerity and romance that Dumas writes with but I really think you should just read it and see for yourself. In fact, if you need any convincing, here is a link to some of the greatest quotes from the book to get you started.

All that to say, I’m curious to see what everyone else reading? What have I been missing out on? I’ve tried to keep track of all the books I have read and am reading on my Good Reads account. So far, I’ve enjoyed everything from Mindy Kaling to Haruki Murakami and am eagerly looking for more. Share with me what you’ve been reading, I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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lizmix3

It poured yesterday in Hong Kong. The electricity was knocked out of several buildings for hours and people scurried from one overhang to another, completely unprepared for the unexpected downpour. Thunder and lightening are no joke in Asia–the first time I witnessed these two weather forces in the Eastern hemisphere, I was on a boat in China, heading down the Yangtze River. Never before had I been so terrified of weather. The loud, thunderous crack of these electrical whips of light, streaking across the sky physically jolted me out of my seat, almost out of my skin.

Yesterday was no different. It was petrifying to hear the thunder crash down from above. Luckily the brief storm didn’t last long. I had to wonder if this was the beginning of our spring showers. And if so, the only other thing I fear more (or “loathe more” to be exact ) than thunder is the impending drastic, subtropical summer heat that will engulf me in a mere few months.

I was doing a massive clean of my aunt’s apartment in preparation for my good friend, Val, who is coming to visit me. She will be the first person who is traveling here for the sole purpose of visiting me! (After my mom, of course) I’m so touched and super excited for the packed itinerary we have planned.

I decided it’s time to crank up the peppy springtime jams because fairer weather is on its way and it’s always nice to have something fun to listen to while you sweep and scrub. 🙂 I made this mix via Spotify, and was going for a hearty amount of funk, mixed with some light-hearted rock. It’s time to get your frolic on!

Image: here

Thank you to everyone who liked my last post! Clearly I don’t know how to use Polyvore quite yet… I didn’t realize it was automatically publishing my inspiration boards here. Heh.

So let’s try this again! A few months ago, I finally bought a leather skirt (alright, it’s not leather at all. It’s more synthetic) because I noticed that a) my wardrobe could use a few skirts and b) these bad girls seem to be the next “it” item. I had been seeing them pop up on various celebrities and runways and thought maybe this would be an appropriate spring purchase.

But now that I have the skirt, I haven’t worn it at all! I haven’t been able to figure out how to best wear it with what I have. Thus, I turned to Polyvore to dream up some potential outfit ideas. And then I sort of went crazy and just started making inspoboards for the heck of it.

I’ve come up with 5 different ideas that more or less suit my actual wardrobe. What would you wear with a leather skirt?

Street Chic

Street Chic

The reason why I love leather skirts is because it’s easy to dress them up or down. Depending on where you work, you might even be able to get away with wearing one to work, with tights. (Then modify appropriately for after-hour festivities) This outfit would be great for the weekend: casual enough for brunch yet dressy enough to wear out later that night. And I’ll find any excuse to wear neon colors…

J Crew slim fit shirtMadewellLeather skirtZara lining shoesCartier jewelryBib necklaceCartier bracelet jewelryStetson baseball caps hatAmerican Apparel neon nailpolish
Upper East Side Hipster Chick
Upper East Side Hipster

I’ve been noticing a lot of models wearing mixed ensembles lately. It’s not uncommon to see a girl wearing a $20 Urban Outfitters beanie with a $700 Chloe satchel. It seems streetwear in general is changing everything in the fashion world and I can’t complain–I don’t mind getting away with printed tees and beanies!

Stoner shirtBlack skirtAlexander Wang high heel shoesChloé black handbagUgo Cacciatori sterling silver ringDANNIJO bib necklaceHatNars cosmetic

A Pop of Green

A Pop of Green
I have a strange affinity for white button downs. I’ve accumulated a good number over the years and a white shirt with a pair of jeans has somehow become my go-to outfit. Even as I was making these boards, I kept defaulting to white collared shirts. So in thinking of ways my white shirts could be utilized, I came up with this outfit. A flowy white top is a nice feminine contrast to the sass of a black leather skirt. I also wanted to focus on accessories because I find them a fun to help way to mix up what you already have. I’d personally love to invest in a Cartier bangle or a classic bowler hat over another pair of shoes. Another thing: I tend to think a nice rich rouge on the lips goes perfectlywith a crisp white shirt. (Yes, um, can you tell how much I love Nars lip care?)

T By Alexander Wang down shirtBlack skater skirtDorothy Perkins mary jane pumps
Marc by Marc Jacobs leather bagLoren Stewart gold earringsCartier gold bracelet
Christys wide brim hatNars cosmetic
City Slicker
City Slicker

In my closet, the only thing that rivals white shirts are striped shirts (does this surprise you?) so when I was looking into leather skirts, I definitely had a few outfit ideas in mind that involved any one of my many striped shirts. There’s a number of ways you could dress up or down a striped shirt. I think it’s all in how you accessorize and what shoes you decide to walk out the door in. I love booties and was looking for a pair with a nice Cuban heel but I came across this pair and thought they bring out the Western flair without seeming too country (bonus points: they’re by Acne!). The other thing I love about this imaginary outfit is the bag. I love anything with a fringe. Anything.

River Island crop shirtBlack leather skirtAcne star bootsZara suede messenger bagLinea pelleDannijoNars cosmetic
Cherubic
Cherubic

As someone who doesn’t necessarily pull off “girly” in the traditional sense, I’m always in awe of fellow females who can really work a pink lace top or a dainty dress with all the right accessories. I think you can’t go wrong with a pretty pink, some strong gold accents and just the right amount of black.

Topshop crop topAlexander McQueen peplum jacketFloral skirtZara high heel shoesCÉLINE leather shoulder bag, Accessorize pearl bangle braceletMarc by Marc Jacobs gold bangle jewelryMango jewelry

This is about all I have on Polyvore at the moment but now that I’m hooked on making imaginary outfits, I’ll be here quite a lot. Do you use Polyvore? I’d love to see what you’ve come up with!

Visiting art museums, reading long books, brunching, owning artwork, knowing your reds from your whites… really, what does it mean to be cultured?

18 days ago I turned 27. Reading this just before my birthday gave me a great deal to think about as I continue to live abroad, meet new people and figure out how to be myself in a new place. I found Chekhov’s words, written when he was about my age, very motivational and necessary for me at this point in my life. Maybe you’ll find it helpful too. 🙂

From Brainpickings:

What does it mean to be “cultured”? Is it about being a good reader, or knowing how to talk about books you haven’t read, or having a general disposition of intellectual elegance? That’s precisely the question beloved Russian author Anton Chekhov, born on this day in 1860, considers in a letter to his older brother Nikolai, an artist. The missive, written when Anton was 26 and Nikolai 28 and found inLetters of Anton Chekhov to his Family and Friends (public domainpublic library), dispenses a hearty dose of tough love and outlines the eight qualities of cultured people — including honestyaltruism, and good habits:

MOSCOW, 1886.

… You have often complained to me that people “don’t understand you”! Goethe and Newton did not complain of that…. Only Christ complained of it, but He was speaking of His doctrine and not of Himself…. People understand you perfectly well. And if you do not understand yourself, it is not their fault.

I assure you as a brother and as a friend I understand you and feel for you with all my heart. I know your good qualities as I know my five fingers; I value and deeply respect them. If you like, to prove that I understand you, I can enumerate those qualities. I think you are kind to the point of softness, magnanimous, unselfish, ready to share your last farthing; you have no envy nor hatred; you are simple-hearted, you pity men and beasts; you are trustful, without spite or guile, and do not remember evil…. You have a gift from above such as other people have not: you have talent. This talent places you above millions of men, for on earth only one out of two millions is an artist. Your talent sets you apart: if you were a toad or a tarantula, even then, people would respect you, for to talent all things are forgiven.

You have only one failing, and the falseness of your position, and your unhappiness and your catarrh of the bowels are all due to it. That is your utter lack of culture. Forgive me, please, but veritas magis amicitiae…. You see, life has its conditions. In order to feel comfortable among educated people, to be at home and happy with them, one must be cultured to a certain extent. Talent has brought you into such a circle, you belong to it, but … you are drawn away from it, and you vacillate between cultured people and the lodgers vis-a-vis.

Cultured people must, in my opinion, satisfy the following conditions:

  1. They respect human personality, and therefore they are always kind, gentle, polite, and ready to give in to others. They do not make a row because of a hammer or a lost piece of india-rubber; if they live with anyone they do not regard it as a favour and, going away, they do not say “nobody can live with you.” They forgive noise and cold and dried-up meat and witticisms and the presence of strangers in their homes.
  2. They have sympathy not for beggars and cats alone. Their heart aches for what the eye does not see…. They sit up at night in order to help P…., to pay for brothers at the University, and to buy clothes for their mother.
  3. They respect the property of others, and therefor pay their debts.
  4. They are sincere, and dread lying like fire. They don’t lie even in small things. A lie is insulting to the listener and puts him in a lower position in the eyes of the speaker. They do not pose, they behave in the street as they do at home, they do not show off before their humbler comrades. They are not given to babbling and forcing their uninvited confidences on others. Out of respect for other people’s ears they more often keep silent than talk.
  5. They do not disparage themselves to rouse compassion. They do not play on the strings of other people’s hearts so that they may sigh and make much of them. They do not say “I am misunderstood,” or “I have become second-rate,” because all this is striving after cheap effect, is vulgar, stale, false….
  6. They have no shallow vanity. They do not care for such false diamonds as knowing celebrities, shaking hands with the drunken P., [Translator’s Note: Probably Palmin, a minor poet.] listening to the raptures of a stray spectator in a picture show, being renowned in the taverns…. If they do a pennyworth they do not strut about as though they had done a hundred roubles’ worth, and do not brag of having the entry where others are not admitted…. The truly talented always keep in obscurity among the crowd, as far as possible from advertisement…. Even Krylov has said that an empty barrel echoes more loudly than a full one.
  7. If they have a talent they respect it. They sacrifice to it rest, women, wine, vanity…. They are proud of their talent…. Besides, they are fastidious.
  8. They develop the aesthetic feeling in themselves. They cannot go to sleep in their clothes, see cracks full of bugs on the walls, breathe bad air, walk on a floor that has been spat upon, cook their meals over an oil stove. They seek as far as possible to restrain and ennoble the sexual instinct…. What they want in a woman is not a bed-fellow … They do not ask for the cleverness which shows itself in continual lying. They want especially, if they are artists, freshness, elegance, humanity, the capacity for motherhood…. They do not swill vodka at all hours of the day and night, do not sniff at cupboards, for they are not pigs and know they are not. They drink only when they are free, on occasion…. For they wantmens sana in corpore sano [a healthy mind in a healthy body].

And so on. This is what cultured people are like. In order to be cultured and not to stand below the level of your surroundings it is not enough to have read “The Pickwick Papers” and learnt a monologue from “Faust.” …

What is needed is constant work, day and night, constant reading, study, will…. Every hour is precious for it…. Come to us, smash the vodka bottle, lie down and read…. Turgenev, if you like, whom you have not read.

You must drop your vanity, you are not a child … you will soon be thirty.
It is time!
I expect you…. We all expect you.

Spring is upon us and this means it’s nearly time to break out any floral patterned  clothing you might own. It’s an exciting time for those of us who have had to wear thick coats and bulky scarves for the last few months. Well. Not me. I live in sub-tropical weather and perspire at the slightest movement. Nor anyone I know in any part of California. But probably people in Chicago or Moscow could relate.

Browsing certain retail spots here in HK, I’ve noticed daises in particular might be the flower of choice this SS13. I’ve seen them on sweaters, cell phone cases, embellishments on collared shirts and pants — it’s such a cute and fashionably acceptable flower to put almost anywhere. I’ll write a post on other emergent trends I’m sniffing out but for now, I want to share one particular daisy-related article of clothing I’ve come across. And it is absolutely adorable.

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My face melted a bit when I saw it, similar to what happens when I see a cute dog: Legs lock. Eyes fixate on object of desire for impolite amounts of time (you know, like Lady “Crazy Eyes” from HIMYM). Hands clasp dramatically infront of chest. High-pitched, squealing sounds emerge from throat. It all happened to some degree when I saw this Kenzo baby. I love its girly yet subtly very sexy silhouette, a duality Kenzo is knowing for pulling off with effortless grace. Whether it’s a bottle of perfume or a blazer, Kenzo’s work epitomizes chic femininity. (Though what wouldn’t be so chic or effortlessly graceful is me wearing this thing and constantly wondering about flashing my azz at everyone) I also think shift dresses with cuts similar to this one will also be a big hit this season. Personally I’m a fan of the focus on “legs for daaaays” as opposed to “boobs in your faaaace.” You can thank my androgynous frame for that.

The daisy panel is accentuated by the playful flare of the skirt which I think does more for the dress than something that falls straight on the legs. Plus it has pockets for a few chocolates or a cellphone or nervous hands on a first date. There is virtually nothing more you could ask for in a spring dress.

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 Arigatou gozaimasu Takada-san~!