Friday, October 23, 2009

another year

A couple of weeks ago, the lovely Jared and I got together to do a photo shoot for my new batch of Best Friend Beanies. It's the same friend from last Fall's shoot, for three reasons:
1) he actually is my best friend
2) the beanies are unisex, so I like showing them on both a guy and a girl, and
3) Jared takes good pictures.

I've known Jared for...probably close to 8 years now. When you're that close to a person for so long, you obviously don't notice them aging, but looking back at photos from when I was a freshman and he was a sophomore always make us laugh and say "we look like babies." So clearly there is some boundary there, some quantifiable period of time that changes you from younger-than-you-are to as-old-as-you-are. What is that boundary? Does anyone know? Does it change the older you get?

Here we are at almost this exact time last year:

And here we are now:

With the rather obvious exception of one of us growing copious facial hair, do we look different? Is there another year in our faces? It's hard for me to tell.

Not that it matters. We're know. Us.
It took us I think five takes to keep straight faces for this shot, we kept cracking up. But I think it was worth it. This picture obviously has "we are awesome" written all over it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ayn Rand, a summary

I feel like this blog post was a little disorganized and clearly written as a kneejerk reaction instead of well-thought-out. So I want to write a summary, and here it is:

I don't believe that life is a zero-sum game among people. And even if it is I don't believe that that is any way to live.
and also Ayn Rand is a terrible, terrible writer

There. End of all discussion of Ayn Rand for all time.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I try not to rant about things, both because it's usually pointless and also because I don't want to offend anybody by coming down on the opposite side of a controversial issue, but I just read this article on the Daily Beast about how Ayn Rand is "in" and fashion designers are so inspired by her writing and/or philosophy that they are designing whole collections "inspired" by her. So I feel I really must comment, and my comment is this:

I hate Ayn Rand.

I mean, HATE. Really really.

Maybe not as a person, I mean after all I never met the lady. But if she was anything like her characters, she was probably a complete a*hole as well.

First of all, she is a bad writer. Has no one realized this yet? She is terrible. I think I've even read direct quotes from her along the lines of "fiction is not my strong suit." No kidding. The characters, the "heroes" that everyone quotes/looks up to/wants to dress like (?) are two-dimensional and absurd, to say the least; the dialogue is stilted or non-existent; the exposition is predictable or non-existent...everything that you might hope for in a novel is either completely butchered or completely missing. I'm basing this on my struggle to read The Fountainhead. To be fair, I only made it halfway through before giving up entirely, but really once you've read about 650 pages, it's probably not going to get any better from there.

Side note: in that article, Ralph Lauren is quoted as saying that Ayn Rand is his favorite author, "along with Ernest Hemingway." Aaron pointed out that this is like saying Bryan Adams is your favorite musician, along with the Rolling Stones. hahaha (apologies to any hard-core Bryan Adams fans out there.)

And of course, the main character ("hero") of any Ayn Rand novel is a Rugged Individual, a Person Who Does Not Let Society Dictate, and also A Complete Jerk. That's what it boils down to, which gets down to the larger problem I have with Ayn Rand, which is that I completely disagree with her philosophy. And that's all her (awful, terrible) novels are, just (extremely long) novelizations of her one-note, self-absorbed philosophy.

I do understand the context from which this philosophy developed. I understand that spending your childhood oppressed under a Communist regime might give you a different perspective on society than the one that I currently have. But.

I have never encountered someone who espoused such a selfish, bitter, grasping worldview, who wasn't himself or herself selfish, bitter, isolated and discontent. The wise people of the world and of history (see: Dalai Lama, for one) have always said "we are dependent upon each other. To believe or act otherwise is ignorance." I cannot think of a single faith tradition that does not teach this. I cannot think of an example where "peace" and "cooperation" don't go hand-in-hand.

Of course I believe that we should be free to pursue happiness, that we should be able to express ourselves, that we should develop ourselves as individuals. But the Rand philosophy, especially as developed and lauded by later followers I think, has a serious flaw: by trying to diametrically oppose oppression and stagnation, it has brought into its scope a complete opposition to altruism, compassion, empathy, short, all of the things that, I believe at least, make us human. Or at least, make being a human worth anything at all.

I am a member of a Unitarian Universalist church. "So, what exactly do you believe?" is a question that always follows this statement. It can be hard to explain, sometimes, and to some people. But there are 7 Core Beliefs which the UU church espouses, and one that always sticks with me is this: "I believe in the interconnected web of all being."

So it bothers me that in this time where we struggle, when we need each other most, that we look to heroes who believe the opposite.

I probably shouldn't let an article on "Sexy Beast" get me so worked up, but there it is.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What a day to forget my camera.

My job doesn't pay very well. But it does come with some perks. The professors I work for/with are brilliant and most of them are also kind and encouraging. I learn something new about religion and/or academia everyday. I get book recommendations and frequent book loans. I'm getting to take a class in ancient Greek even though I'm not in school.

And then, yesterday, one of the professors had a meeting she had to go to, so she couldn't go to the afternoon session of a conference that was in town, so she gave me her ticket. To go see this guy:
Um yes that is the Dalai Lama. (The 14th Dalai Lama, to be exact.)

The Mind and Life Institute was having its annual conference in DC at a Hall about four blocks from my office. So I just, you know, took a long lunch and went to hear several leading neuroscientists and developmental psychologists chat with the Dalai Lama about education.

That's...a pretty big perk.

(and goshdarnit if I hadn't taken my camera out of my purse and left it at home...dangit)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Crafty Boy

For my birthday this year Aaron gave me a new carry-on bag, and inside the bag was a new swimsuit and a note to pack accordingly. He was whisking me off for a week in...?? It was a surprise. I'm not sure if I was more excited or frustrated. I almost convinced him to tell me where we were going, but at the last minute I decided I would regret it so I just let it be a surprise. I had to wait three whole weeks to find out. He kept telling me that I would find out whenever we got to the airport...he failed to mention that we had a connecting flight, so I went to the DC airport all excited and ready to find out where we were going and he hands me a boarding pass foooooor ...Charlotte, NC. Um. My frustration mounted.

Anyway, the point is, another flight and a few hours later, we ended up here:

In case that huge Red Stripe advertisement and the insanely turquoise sea didn't tip you off, that's Jamaica.

Jamaica! And entire week in Jamaica! Oh yes, it was amazing. Our hotel was on the cliffs, so every morning we would come downstairs and get some fresh Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee,

and then take a dip in our gorgeous private swimming hole.

The place we were staying was called Blue Cave Castle (for reals!)

and when we were coming back from snorkeling our boat was followed by dolphins (for reals!)

And there was seaside/seagoing horseback riding (did you know horses can swim with their riders clinging to them??)
And unbelievable food and gorgeous sunsets.

And cocktails and rum cream and Red Stripe. Lots of Red Stripe (yes I took several pictures of my many Red Stripe bottles. I'll spare you.)

And then, on the next-to-the-last day, this happened:

Do you see that ring? At first I couldn't tell if he meant it because it wasn't a diamond and also because I was 100% surprised, and I kept saying "Really?!? Are you sure???!"
And then I started breathing again and I managed to say yes :)
So yes, the ring, ah, the ring. Isn't it lovely? It's handmade by this couple who lives in the forest in Canada; Aaron had it custom-designed so no one in the world has anything like it. There's this very thin inlay of lighter wood around the band, do you see it? I have no idea how human hands can make something like it. But, it's perfect.

So, what we have learned is that Aaron* is extremely good at plotting and secret-keeping (he later said he'd been planning this trip since March or April). And also that he is pretty romantic. And crafty.
And also I'm about to become that girl that can only ever talk about wedding things. Yippee!

*my future husband! Holy cow!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Free wedding garter patterns!

One of my dear friends at Stitch 'n' Bitch is Juli. She is simultaneously a mom, a small business owner, and one of the most stylish people I've ever known. Her business is selling fabulous, unique, 100% handmade wedding garters. How cute is that??

Recently Juli decided to offer free garter patterns on her website; she designed her own knit garter, and then we worked together to design a crochet version. Both versions are super-simple, super-cheap, and, I think, pretty adorable as well. We had looked around for the right yarn together but in the end Juli came up with the idea to use ribbon, which really sells it for me.
What do you think? (check out the knitted one too, the ribbon is precious)

If you don't have any imminent need for a handmade wedding garter, be sure to check out Juli's blog anyway; she's starting to offer a weekly style column which I'm really excited about.

I'm making some changes to this blog, did you notice? I'm still working some things out but I hope you like it. I feel like I'm in a season of big changes/improvements...more on that soon ;)