Thursday, December 27, 2007

The final stretch

I have just 9 more days in my 20s, though it's really just 8 since I'll be in Australia for it and lose a day. Losing that day initially bummed me out, but my attitude has changed over the last couple of months about turning 30.

I know the majority of people who read my blog are already over 30, so if that's you, this might be a bit yawn worthy. But perhaps you can share some wisdom on what I had previously deemed as my impending doom.

I know my friends outside of LA have not been thrilled about turning 30, however I think being here makes every year older so much worse. Especially if one is pursuing acting, as I am. "You're as young as you feel" can take you far in just about any place other than here. Here, you are simply as young as you look. Even then, they want younger people to play older characters. I'm lucky that I'm still able to pass for mid - late 20s and should be able for a few more years to come, but the fact remains that my skin is getting a bit ruddy and fine lines are probably around the corner, so my aspirations of playing characters who are like I "feel" are slowly slipping away. I've already auditioned a few times for mum roles, though thankfully young mums rather than a mother of teenagers. Phew!

Another thing that is paining about this transition is my style. Over the past year or so, I've really transitioned into 60s, mod fashions with white go-go boots to match. It's a fun and perky look which I wear well, despite appearing ethnically misplaced in it, but it makes me sad to think that once I get to 38, it is likely I will look stupid in short skirts and go-go boots. So no matter how young I may feel, I may have to hang those up by that time. I'm keeping all my 50s dresses in reserve for that time so I can settle into a nice classic look while hopefully maintaining some dignity in skirts that fall below the knee. With my reluctance to hang up my boots, I must keep in mind my lack of foresight regarding the McDonald's playground. I'll forgive myself as I was about 8 or 9 at the time, but when I was reading the rules for the play area one day, it said it was for children under 12. I scoffed at the notion, terrified of the day that I would not be allowed to take the giant green slide, and insisted that I didn't care what that said, I would continue to play there AFTER I was 12. Well, as it turned out, there was no confrontation with the store manager or any such incident after January 5th, 1990. I had long stopped playing there before that date though sadly, not yet stopped eating there. I can only assume that I'll be over my currently age-appropriate style trend by the time is ceases to be so.

Ugh! Yes, Madonna, we believe that you're almost 50 and in great shape, now put your vagina away once and for all.

I've spent the far to much of the past two years dreading the day 8-9 days from now. Just obsessing about this number and all the bad things that I believed to go with it and not at all looking at where I am right now which is actually pretty good and appears to have been achieved through age and experience. I spent my late teens are early 20s doing pretty much nothing. Aside from having a great relationship wrapped up with a bow, I watched a lot of TV and had few serious interests. Nothing I could act upon anyway. I've never been disinterested, just inactive. I've always been prone to laziness, so that coupled with a lack of serious interest in things that couldn't be Googled, left me doing very little. But now, as I approach this milestone, I've got a lot of irons in the fire. I take boxing classes, I sew, I knit, I'm in a cool book club (really, it IS cool), I manage Supergrass' MySpace page, I write this blog and while my acting career isn't really going anywhere, I'm at an all time high, skill-wise. These things aren't all leading me to any great career advances, but that really doesn't matter to me. I'm busy and doing things that interest me and creating things I'm proud of which is very satisfying, whether or not it's lucrative. I spent my whole life obsessing over music and the creativity of others all the while accepting that I didn't have any of my own. Well, it's taken me almost 30 years to discover that I am creative and feel comfortable enough to express and share that with others.

So thank you blog readers for helping me find myself. God, that way gay. Is that what I have to look forward to in my old age? Using retarded cliches to express myself? Fuck.... me

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Party anxiety ***updated***

***UPDATE***In case anyone thought I was exaggerating my party fears, about three or four days after I wrote this blog, I decided to cancel my upcoming birthday party. I'm not arriving in Australia until 3 days before it, I wasn't organised and the whole idea of it was making me unhappy. I'm sure I'd have had a great time once it transpired, but I was sick of my stomach being in knots leading up to that. I'll have something small and relaxed. *sighs with relief*

Parties always seem like a good idea to me when I first think of them, but as the day draws nearer, I am always left asking myself why I came up with such a dumb idea. Much like the feeling after a big night drinking, as the party approaches, remorse hits and it begs the question "What have I done?"

The last big shin dig I arranged was for my 28th birthday. I was back home in Melbourne and it seemed like an excellent chance to gather all my friends since it was often hard for me to see everyone I know during my short visits. Everything seemed to be falling into place, I talked about it for months, advised people there would be a party on January 7th (two days after my birthday) so they would keep the date free. I was even nerdy enough to make an iPod playlist months in advance. It's not as pathetic as it sounds. I was thinking about it and had the time at that moment, and I could foresee packing my bags at 3am the night before we were to leave and remembering I hadn't made the playlist and then having to add that to my endless list of things to do before departure.

It was all exciting until the serious planning began. Oh good lord, how could I come up with enough people? As it turned out, I had about 40 people show up which is a great turn out, especially so close to Christmas. Aeek or so before the party is about the time that I forsee a disaster. Even if the people turn out, will the party be any good? Will there be enough food? Will there be any wall flower people requiring special attention?

As much as I don't want to be this person, I don't want someone feeling like this as my party.

I've come to realise that I take way too much upon myself when it comes to other people having a good time. If there is any event in which I am the reason for someone being there, I just get pangs in my stomach with worry. I thought this was normal until Ag furrowed her brow and seemed puzzled by my feelings. At that 28th birthday party, the first person to arrive was a guy from my work. A great guy whom I like to talk to, but I was a bit startled to have him be the first and only one there and requiring my 100% attention until someone else arrived. Once things are underway, I'm fine, that party was great, but just before it, I'd really rather curl up into a ball and die.

And now I am just over two weeks away from another party. My 30th. I sent out a 'save the date' email and got a weak response. I'm sure most people didn't think they had to say anything, but it makes me nervous. I'm renting a chocolate fountain and karaoke machine. Sweet, merciful crap, what have I done....?

It bothers me that no matter how aware I am of my social anxieties, it does little to help them go away. On the one hand, I try to tell myself I am overreacting and people aren't judging me like I imagine. But then it isn't long until I find myself on the other end of a dull party or hearing about one. Even though these happen and people don't necessarily think poorly of the host for it, I just can't even stand for anyone to be bored on my account. I fell a tremendous responsibility if someone goes to a movie I suggested! About 10 years ago, I suggested to my sister and my friend Mark that we go see A Clockwork Orange as it was so famous as I had not seen it. In juxtaposition to my immense enjoyment of the film, my stomach was in knots, convinced those two hated it and were wondering what kind of crap I made them go see. As we walked out of the theatre, my sister said "That was great!" to which Mark replied, "I wouldn't mind seeing that again." I guess they had a better time than I did since I was the only one who was anxious the whole time. As I've said before, I need to chill the fuck out.

This anxiety extends to parties I attend, too. I worry that my standing in a corner and being a wallflower is distressing to others. If I only know a couple of people at a party, that's what I tend to do. I accompanied Steph and David to a 70s themed fondue party on Saturday while visiting them up in Seattle. I was very excited about it before hand as I'd never had fondue, which is sad given that I am a cheese enthusiast. But as we approached the door, the "What am I going to do?" feeling came over me. I reminded Stephanie of my social retardation and she told me that was fine and to go ahead and cling. I'm pretty good at it so I don't totally look like I'm tailing her. I hang back a bit so if my clingee walks away, I follow a little bit later. It's best for all involved.

'The Wallflower' by Norman Rockwell

Stephanie did her best to include me and introduced me to her friends who were almost all very nice. All but one, who is just the kind of person who keeps people like me in a state of mortal terror. We'll call her Jamie. Jamie, after being introduced to me, stuck out her hand apprehensively, and seemed to be so busy looking me up and down with scrutiny that she did not state her name after I stated mine. I had to ask. When she said "Jamie", it was cold. Soon after this painful exchange, I responded with merriment to something someone else said only to catch the sight of Jamie and a long disapproving stare at me which she obviously began when I wasn't looking at her. Just when you try to tell yourself that you are overreacting about being perceived as a dolt, you meet someone like Jamie.

When that group moved away, I asked Steph what was up with her and turns out, it isn't me after all, but her. I guess she has really low self esteem and masks it that way. She has a very pretty faced (marred only with a sour expression) but I guess her weight problem makes her hateful. Her insecurity made me feel a little sorry for her, though I can only feel so sorry for someone who compensates with nastiness. This new information on Jamie was empowering, so as we left the party, I made a point of complimenting her earrings (which were rad) and her poncho. I thought either I'll make her feel good or just make her even more mad by being un-hateable. I do love killing with kindness.

Somewhere between the Jamie incident and leaving, I found myself alone by the fondue table. This was fine as I had discovered the chocolate mint fondue so I really didn't need anybody. I then noticed two people looking through a kaleidoscope. I noticed the font on the side of the tube was in the same font as the "The Love Boat" and was about to burst in and say as much as a means of striking up a conversation, but I quickly envisioned the follow up to my outburst and resisted the urge. I could see it going down as well as if I'd said "So, did you hear the city passed an amendment to the clean water bill?" or the Rain Man ice breaker, "Are you taking any prescription medication?" I'm just so use to hanging out with people who appreciate a good font and other aesthetically pleasing things, that it seemed like a perfectly normal thing to say. When you say it to a friend who cares not for fonts, they can just shrug and you don't care because you kinda knew they didn't care anyway, you just wanted to declare it and the friend should be use to you declaring such things. But with new people, not knowing you and not ready to talk about such things with a stranger who pipes in with it, it could be pretty awkward.

Randomly, here's a picture of me with Bernie Kopel who played Dr. Adam Bricker on 'The Love Boat'.

Even when I evaluate my paranoia and discomfort in these situations as I am doing right now, my feelings don't seem unfounded or paranoid to me. If people have a bad time, sure, they can deal with it, but I just don't even want that to happen on my watch. When going to other parties, well, a few drinks always eases some tension, but it would nice if I could just eat it and NOT CARE. Ugh.

I hope I haven't painted myself in such a way that anyone reading this wont come to my parties and wont invite me to parties. I'm actually great fun, I promise! I don't need a drop of liquor to get up for karaoke! I just get a little uncomfortable sometimes... It's an internal struggle. Nothing to worry about!

Friday, December 07, 2007

You can't buy class

The Louis Vuitton bag. A mark of desperation.

***I know this is a long one, but considering this subject has had me fuming for years, I actually consider it to be short - S ***

(From Class: Informal. elegance, grace, or dignity, as in dress and behavior: He may be a slob, but his brother has real class.

Class: Informal. of high quality, integrity, status, or style: class players on a mediocre team.

For a long time now, I have been a vocal opponent of human branding. I'm not referring to the kind they do to cows with iron and fire (though that's bad too). No, I'm talking about the kind people do to themselves. What is an unpleasant experience for a cow is done willingly by humans in some sort of attempt to align themselves with a sense of belonging, class or status. Only the burn is on the wallet, rather than the rump.

This isn't something I have a completely detached view of either. When I was in my early teens in the 90s, surfer brands were all the rage. Already suffering from severely low self-esteem, a Stussy t-shirt seemed like it would answer all my social problems and buy me some coolness. I forked out $37 of my birthday money (that was 1992. $37 is still too much for a shirt today, let alone for a 14 year old 15 years ago!) for a Stussy t-shirt and proudly wore it to the end of year school picnic. I felt cool when I put it on, but while at the picnic, I was still the same. I think someone may have taunted me for my shirt looking too "new". The verdict was in. I was still unpopular. Just unpopular in a cool shirt. After getting more surf brand shirts with my Christmas money, getting the much needed $65 Stussy pants and suffering humiliation after being caught for wearing a bootleg Stussy hoodie, I moved away from all that. When my Stussy pants (with a barely visible brand bearing label) eventually wore out, I switched to cheapo Westco pants. They were $20 and exactly the same with the "Westco" label in place of the Stussy. My friend had convinced me that there was a quality difference but they wore out in about the same amount of time. Once I got into bands, it was all band t-shirts which I don't really classify the same as being into a brand. What is a brand other than just being a brand? What is with fat slobs wearing Nike "Just Do It" shirts when clearly they "just do" absolutely nothing?

It sickens me to recall the amount of empty happiness this logo gave me as a youngster.

Sporting brands are one thing. I know a lot of people wear things like that and just don't care. It's just clothes. Just something someone gave them to hide their nakedness. Those companies make sportswear so the shirts do make some sense (though I still wouldn't be caught dead in one) and they are things you could wear while participating in sports, though really, a plain t-shirt would suffice. It's the designer brands that I just don't understand. Someone wearing a Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt might feel like they are aligning themselves with some style, but what they are actually saying is "I hadn't the style or money to buy an original Tommy Hilfiger designed dress/suit, so I bought this crappy t-shirt!" The designers producing those t-shirts are just preying on the desperation for the common man's desire to be classy or hip. It's like wearing a fluorescent orange t-shirt with an ugly font which reads "I'm hip, I swear!" and believing that has taken care of that. With the huge popularity of the Tommy tees about 9 years ago, the reasoning might have simply been "This is cool," but WHY? What makes that cool? It's a t-shirt which no style to it whatsoever. No-one can explain that to me.

Teach them about self worth and fitting in from a young age.

But it isn't all just about slapping DKNY or Versace t-shirts on poor people. Even people with money are obviously too insecure to step out and wear something without making sure everyone knows it is of great value and that they had the money to buy it. The Louis Vuitton bag stands out as a terrible testament to the desperate times we live in. If anyone cares about fashion, they would want to make a statement. You can't make a statement carrying something that everyone has, be it real or a knock-off. I especially love the knock-off element, because no-one can tell the difference at a glance, thus cheapening the look and making fools of anyone who spent more than $10 on one. I must say, whenever I see someone proudly clutching something with a Louis Vuitton print, the word "loser" springs to mind. It's just so desperate. It's just about screaming "I have no innovation or trust in my taste, so I will hide behind this thing. Then everyone will SEE that I have class."

I know people convince themselves that they like it, but I believe they are fooling themselves. They like the prestige, the class and all these other things that don't actually come with the bag. I've heard of people with ordinary desk jobs saving up all their money for a bag. My friend told me about her co-worker who saved up $800 for months to purchase a small LV wallet, only to soon see knock-offs turning up at the market for $20. She subsequently felt very stupid. $800 spent by someone who couldn't afford it, for a small piece of leather, thread and a zip with a fairly uninspired print, if you ask me. Don't even get me started on the ugly beige trim! If that girl was a trash bag to begin with, the addition of that purse did not stop her from being a trash bag. Again, you can't buy class. Class comes from within and can be exuded even if you buy your clothes at Target.

I'm certainly not against all designer clothes (unless the designers use fur, in which case they can fuck right off. THAT'S another blog!) On the contrary, as much as I oppose the Tommy t-shirt, I would wear the right Tommy dress in a heartbeat. I saw a gorgeous one in a window in London last year. I'd never mention that it was a Tommy as whether or not it was him would have ZERO to do with why I would wear it. If something exemplifies my style, I will wear it. I can't afford anything like that, and that's totally fine because anyone can still be classy for peanuts. I'm working the 60s mod look these days and I'd sooner wear a dress befitting my style which I found for $12 at Buffalo Exchange than some gaudy designer dress just because it has a name attached. I'm not always classy, but when I want to, I don't need to spend a lot of money to pull it off.

Do you think that t-shirt reflects Tommy Hilfiger as a designer? (I'll take the dress on the left, thanks)

I thought the man above was barbecuing, but in fact he is dyeing yarn. The site from which that picture came from states that he is doing that, " his precious Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt." Why would this shirt be precious to this man? I wonder if he actually owns a pair of the Tommy Jeans which he is promoting. Even if he is, why on earth would anyone wear a T-SHIRT that advertises JEANS? I feel like I'm in a world gone mad! Companies spend large amounts of money to advertise on billboards. And yet, we find ourselves in a time where people are spending their own money to BE billboards.

And going against the very essence of class, wouldn't it seems tacky to go to a party and announce to everyone how much your outfit cost?

Tomethy: "Bertha, you look smashing!"
Bertha: "Why thank-you Tomethy! I should look smashing! This outfit only cost me $2,500!"

That's precisely what someone is doing by brandishing something known to be expensive. I must admit, I am a bit of a blabbermouth when it comes to revealing prices, but for the completely opposite reason,

Many people: "Simone! That dress is so cool!"
Me: "Thanks! It was only $16!!!"

If someone compliments something I'm wearing, I love to boast about it's cheapness. A little tacky perhaps, but who doesn't enjoy hearing about a good bargain? The revealed price of an outfit does not lessen the appeal it had before said information was revealed. I wont dispute that often, cheaper clothes are constructed poorly by comparison to their designer counterparts, but this is not always the case, and with more flamboyant and dressier items, it's hard to find many opportunities to wear something enough to wear it out. True, higher end items are cut and sewn better, but these things aren't observable to everyone you meet and the jump in price is more for the name than the better construction. A friend of mine spent a ridiculous amount of money of a Versace cardigan, which had "Versace" printed in gold all along the trim. She specifically bought it because it SHOWED the Versace name. She told me as much. But after one wash, all the gold wore off and she was left with an unspectacular black cardigan.

Fashion is such a wonderful art form, one which starts with the vision of the designer and can then be worked and interpreted by the wearer. Not everyone is up to that task, which is fine, so long as these people don't think they can jump in on some of that by carrying a bag, wearing a hat or donning a t-shirt bearing a logo. Simply put, you either got it, or you don't. Try as one may, you just can't buy into that.

Taking great pride in attaching oneself to a brand shows a great void in self worth. There is no amount of money on earth that can fill that void. It has to be repaired from within oneself.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The devolution of funny

I can't believe this never ocurred to me until this weekend, but it finally did after hanging out with a friend of a friend who, while being someone who likes to do fun things, has a pretty weak sense of humour. She's no-one I would dare call funny. She seems to find it easier to state things are funny rather than actually laugh at them. But she likes to have fun, so shouldn't that make her fun-ny?

See, if your nose runs, it is "runny", when the sun does it's thing, it is "sunny", and if a bun was at its peak, you might say it was "bunny". So why not "funny" for the fun? How odd it would be to come off an activity suggested by your humourless friend and say, "I'm so glad you suggested that hot air balloon ride! You're SO funny!". I wonder if the word funny arose from people making people laugh and creating a fun time and eventually became used exclusively for the hilarious. Dullards who know how to have fun are now devoid of an appropriate adjective!

Funny, but not fun.