Category: check me out

Gratefully Wed: Our Own Little Clan of Believers


When I first met Ryan, he told me didn’t really understand why anyone bothered with marriage. He didn’t need a party or a piece of paperwork to keep him loyal to the woman he loves. And he wanted me to feel “free” to leave or stay. I agreed wholeheartedly, but secretly I wanted to belong to his beautiful, beautiful beard heart.

aaronbeardtrimbow tie by zelma rose
tiffany blue bride and flower girl
In our first year, there was bliss. But there were also tragedies, insomnia, insecurity, habits and complexes gnashing like dull knives. We reinvented the art of the pout. There were moments of ecstatic, twitterpated wonder intermixed with anxiety attacks and emotional shut-downs. But we just kept trying.

It takes time to figure things out.

And goddamnit, we got better at it. We forgave, we supported, we encouraged, we understood. We took long lingering baths together even when chaos charged in. Ryan was patient, loyal and forgiving. He loves me dizzy.

One day, Ryan sat me down ceremoniously on a park bench to announce, “You know what? I get it. I do see why people get married.” I smiled, taking it for a sweet romantic musing. But deeper down I knew what he really meant. My strengths are his weaknesses and my weaknesses are his strengths. We are only beginning to understand how best to love each other and marriage is just an official request for the patience required to keep getting better at it.

When he proposed another year later, I was definitely surprised. And after a lot of waffling, we decided to get married at our favorite place. Turns out we weren’t the only ones who thought throwing a wedding for 100+ cityslickers at our “rustic” family farm was just crazy enough to work.

There is no such thing as a DIY wedding. It’s DIO.

Our friends teamed up, drank beer and conquered. They carved our rugged, dusty, spiky, poisonous little farm into a gentle, lush garden with their bare hands. Andrew built a beautiful bench from locally sourced rocks, Casey spread gravel like a mad man, A pregnant Sonja helped babysit and declutter, Angie reorganized bookshelves, Phil worked the shovel and wheelbarrow like a boss. There was heavy lifting, acre after acre of weed whacking and bulldozing, all of us thoroughly dredged in sweat and red dust. To have a friend contribute his sweat and lower back comfort to the cause of your love was incredibly touching.










table setting2

So if you want to have a lovely wedding on an impossible budget, all you have to do is put in years and years of fierce loyalty to a circle of friends and family who are amazing at everything. Show up to their weddings, their funerals, and especially their moving days. And if your nearest and dearest happen to live and love on a micro brewery/heritage pig farm with an Tolkienesque tree on a rolling hill overlooking a sunset-reflecting lake, you’re in luck.



Leading up to the date, my twin sister Eve and bro-in-law-of-my-dreams Danny (successful behaviorists/ Dragon Hour Farmers / armchair philosophers/parents of the most amazing kid / busiest couple in the land) grew us a 300 lb. sow from a piglet on a diet of organic veggies, raw milk and spent grain. I named her lovingly, Philipa Seymour Hoofman and Ryan fed her her first and final cupcake. Eve took note of my extensive wish list and Danny brewed a keg of pink saîson with a galaxy of stars as the secret ingredient (we named it after the cologne in Grand Budapest Hotel, “L’Air de Panåche”), made perfect playlists, freaking married us, and then went ahead and made sure every detail was perfect (down to personally editing our feature length wedding video – short version soon to come).






Jamaica, my bridesmaid and bestie (as you should very well know by now) weathered all my wildly fluctuating dream dress ideas and whittled them down to the perfect simplicity my heart craved. The pristine tiffany blue silk 1930s slip dress I bought at Desert Vintage was transformed, via $28 worth of vintage lingerie trim, art deco brooches and some meticulous hand-sewing by a love-filled human, into a zephyr of a gown perfect for a 100 degree day féte. Even my veil was vintage – a yard of pre-WWII lemon-hued millinery veiling.

Wearing that dress was like wearing a cool breeze.


1920s vintage wedding dress art deco

art deco bride

My dear friend Lesli of La Curie, parfumier from Tucson with magically impeccable taste, handcrafted our wedding favors – little bottles of a botanical mosquito repellent Mosquito Non-Grata, which smells like heaven, camping and now, our wedding day.




My dad’s hard work was the grandest gesture of fatherly love I have ever seen from him. The man is a machine. He personally transformed the place with his feats of back-hoeing prowess and went about cutifying every last corner of farm. I get a little weepy just thinking about it.

By wedding time, my friends and family and I were all tan and ripped from manual labor, and our love had inspired the creation of a lovely garden, a legit fire pit, an outdoor kitchen with a huge roasting spit, a dance floor underneath a sheltering oak tree, 9 lbs of wedding cheese (Cypress Grove’s iconic Humbolt Fog cheese with a center layer of truffle chèvre) stacked like a 3 layer cake, four different styles of homebrew, and a whole pig butchered, trussed and guarded overnight by five of the very best men in my life. My friend Kelly died my hair and the kids decorated the “cake.”

A wedding can be a poignant occasion to pay homage to those we miss. The pair of star brooches adorning the back of my dress once belonged to my great grandmother, who has returned to the stars. My little brother Nik, who had died of brain cancer 6 months before the wedding, would have been proud to contribute his truck rack to the pork spit. My other brother Dell, my deceased father’s namesake, wore a vintage shirt with my father’s portrait embroidered on the back and walked me down the aisle.


myguys copy


In spite of a water shortage scare, mystery smells, and 100+ degree heat, July 5th 2014 is now a lush memory of friendly cooperation, pleasant surprises, comfortable comedy, creamy sunlight, and revelations of love from bosom friends. Not a cold nerve for miles. For about 6 hours, our disheveled little farm could almost pass for a schmancy winery party with Wes Anderson on the turntables.












There was an old rowboat filled with fairy lights, oddly colored chiffon hanging from trees like spanish moss, and the tables were decorated with sorbet-hued microscopes, vintage cameras, obscure antique books, California poppies, copper dinosaurs and napkins made from clashing vintage fabrics from the 60s.

Amanda and Joel, (Heroes of Hard Labor) our volunteer bartenders, mixed signature cocktails for our guests. “The Moonrise Kingsley” – rosemary, juniper and rose petal infused gin, made by my sister-friend Angie, with homemade grapefruit or raspberry soda made by Sonya, Andy, and Kim. We drank through paper straws resembling birch trunks.

The dance floor turned into a mini Burning Man for awhile there. People were crowd surfing, hoola-hooping. We were mad for love. To us, it was perfection. Absurd perfection.












It only cost us thrice what we hoped it would and as our bank account began to drain low, we fantasized about an easy elopement. But now we understand why people have weddings. Dear friends who would never have met otherwise now feel like one big curated family circle. Where else besides a wedding can you find your high school bestie and your favorite LA neighbor – strangers to each other, mutual support of our relationship their only bond – doing a running-man-off to your favorite William Onyeabar mash-up?

And for one day we are allowed to forget that life is not easy.

That love fades. That there is no happily ever after. That long term relationships require endless patience.

So far it’s true. Our relationship retains similar ratios of infuriating and blissful. I still have to bite my tongue every time Ryan leaves his beard pubes all over the sink, but he still tells me I look pretty even if I woke up on the wrong side of ugly. He kisses me passionately even when I’m wearing blood orange lipstick.

We know there will probably never come a disagreement-free day. But we have promised to keep trying, to stay true and in love, and to “always choose empathy over fairness” (as Ryan wrote in his vows). I accepted Ryan as my husband with unrepentant gusto because he is always learning, always getting really really good at everything he does. He is loyal because he is.

But something definitely feels different since the wedding.

Maybe we trust each other a little more. Maybe we have roles to fill now. Maybe it’s this:

 Relationships are never easy, but now ours has its own little clan of believers.




Photos by Isaac Trumbo, Catherine Plein, Will Wells, and Ryan Flynn

Flowers by Rory Barlew

Hair by Aaron Clark

Makeup by Beck Trumbo

Dress from Desert Vintage

Bowtie from Zelma Rose

Ryan’s Walnut Inlay Ring from Tungsten Rings for Men

Kale Salad from Kale Cart

Wedding Website

Honeymoon Donations

(not quite there yet!)

Continue reading Gratefully Wed: Our Own Little Clan of Believers

Check Us Out: Complementary Cuddlers

Expectations are a bitch.

And I can be a terrible girlfriend.

These two facts have become increasingly and more obviously linked for the past several years. On paper I think I am an awesome person all around. I have been described by others as resourceful, smart, creative, optimistic, adventurous, confident(?!), loving, patient, and turbo cute (cute lasts longer). I genuinely love beer, am inexplicably good at poker and sex, give great advice, and I can uphold intelligent conversation about any number of masculine subjects. I might even beat you at video games. Until recently, however, I SUCKED at being a girlfriend.

I have been known to:
-criticize the way you eat, do dishes or chop garlic.
-correct your grammar.
-openly mock your taste in music or lack thereof.
-be uncharacteristically clingy and demand you spoon me 4-5 times per night.
-be the very definition of a nag, whilst procrastinating just as badly as you.
-be weirdly anal about decorative hand towels.

Now nobody is perfect, but eventually you learn that most of the reasons you suck at being in an unconditionally loving relationship are a product of one thing. Deep-seeded expectations. Letting go of those is not easy, but it means being able to love someone for exactly who they are. Now, try doing that whilst both party’s daddy issues, childhood projections, past relationship baggage, vices, bad habits, and/or unwavering music taste are repeatedly colliding together in an enclosed space. It’s just not easy. It takes practice (and for some, therapy) but you do get better at it. But the most fortunate side effect of finding the right person to love is that it forces you to be more lovable. And after having had some of my most compulsive and trifling expectations systematically exploded by previous boyfriends, I think I was primed to love me some Ryan Flynn.


That is, as ready as a girl could be to meet a dinosaur.
I should explain.

Ryan is a living, breathing, farting phenomenon. He has an anatomically-correct T. Rex tattoo emblazoned across his chest and he doesn’t even know who Marc Bolan is. He is brilliant, obsessed with science, and likes to be called The Dinosaur. That said, he doesn’t really know any obscure dinosaur facts, but if you ask he will describe the universe to you in a such a way that proves our observable reality Beauty enough.
Ryan doesn’t so much “listen” to music as conquer every instrument he encounters like a force of nature. Impossibly talented, he can compose an I-dare-you-not-to-twerk gay dance anthem whilst growing the sexiest beard in the land. He makes the most fiercely loyal and honest friend, even though his dimples alone could negotiate their way out of a Thai prison. He is so face-blind that he can’t recognize an Elvis or JFK photo out of context, but he recently pointed out Sir Richard Dawkins at a hip Silverlake taco joint (granted, it was named “Diablo”). He can and will tell an hilarious pedophilia joke to your parents with a straight face, but instantly blushes if he’s ever forced to dance. Not at all what my 15 y/o naively mormon, matrimony-obsessed self was expecting, but it does help that I am now an atheist whose knees get wobbly at the sight of a well-farmed beard.


One random, rainy May morning by a lush green pond at the bottom of a valley on my family’s farm, he proposed. I would have had a resounding YES poised on my tongue like an olympic diver if it wasn’t the timidest thing I’d ever heard him say. “I was wondering if I could ask you to marry me.”
Instead I said, “Of course you could ask me!” I thought we were still being theoretical because there were no helicopters or pyrotechnics, the water was too low for a canoe, I was wearing muddy pajama bottoms, and still had morning breath.

He knows how much I love surprises.


Of course I said yes. We balance each other. Ryan is crazy skilled at everything I suck at, and I am getting better at not sucking at everything. He has probably already done all the crap I procrastinate on and I keep him healthy and organized. Together, we are unstoppable. So eventually we adapted to the lack of shared music taste (headphones! miracles!) and I got better at not being a total cunt. After some practice fights, we figured out that we could be each others’ one-and-every and still be good at life, so it was time to choose a ring. Ryan’s only request was that it be a diamond.

See now, I love refracted light as much as the next person, but tiny overworked chunks of compacted carbon generously doused in colonialism and blood and then marketed by a bunch of corporate Hallmark dickholes as the only way to prove one’s everlasting love are just not my thing, never have been. I wanted to love this object for its color, depth, and imperfections just like Ryan Flynn loves me for mine.


So we bought this fruity little pebble of petrified deep because it’s the only one like it. Because it’s weird, like us. Because it hasn’t been forced to be something it’s not. Because diamonds are the hardest form of carbon, just like Ryan Flynn. In that way, sure, but also in the way that he has been my rock through a couple of the hardest years of my life. I wanted to be reminded that this thing will outlast all of us.


Enter Jennifer Will of JW Metal Arts. Her minimal yet unapologetic designs killed all my expectations. We both fell in love with the color and shape of the stone -it’s a diamond, it is what it is- and started sending each other sonnets about our dreams and wishes for this oddly shaped gem. But to pull this crunchy lil nugget straight from the dirt and force it into some intricate art nouveau setting would be apologizing for it’s true nature. I wanted it to be itself! To shine like a Ryan in the rough. Rose gold to complement its stormy blue and clean lines to play up its awkwardness. She mocked up a few different designs for us, got to work and voila!


rose gold natural rough blue diamond engagement ring


I would have Jennifer design my tattoo. She has an amazing eye and took my every bridezilla moment in stride. My engagement ring is a translucent shard of ocean caught in a molten copper orbit and it is now the most beautiful, chic, well-crafted object I own. The best part is that there is no other like it in the entire world and it was custom-designed for me.

hip engagement ring

Just like Ryan Flynn.

photos by Isaac Trumbo

Check Me Out: Poster Girl for The Present

I am a Sun Slut. Self-proclaimed. I would do anything for a hit of vitamin D. One year I stalked the Summer from NorCal to Hawaii to SoCal to Tucson and didn’t suffer a stitch of sun withdrawal for a 8 whole months. Them’s called Skills.

This year, I did what any well-versed sun-worshiper would do and stayed in SoCal for the winter. Right? Yet here we are, almost June, and my legs are as white as Justin Beiber.

And I had been saving this dress for a sunny day. I waited FOR SO LONG:

Summer Dress

By the way, why in tarnation do we do that to ourselves?
“This is my favorite frock, I wear it once a year.”
“Naw, today’s not special enough for my favorite red lipstick.”

Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE. Tomorrow? Today? In 5 minutes? I’m sorry, but since you eventually have to kick that pearly bucket anyway, wouldn’t you want to do it in style?

I know, I know, I’ve been such a downer lately. But you know what’s really a bummer? Not bringing every miraculous human life-minute you’ve got up to a Prince-like fever pitch when there are zillions of planets in the known universe who can’t even muster a goddamn paramecium! Here we are in all our cerebral, conscious, self-aware glory going, “Durr, let’s watch an entire season of Tosh.0 in one day! Now, please pass the corn syrup and BPA infused fat-free vodka.”


Why the rant? Last week I woke up to the 49th cloudy day in a row, got some horrible news about my little brother’s ever-encroaching brain tumor(s) and spent the entire day snotting into my boyfriend’s sweater. So on the 50th cloudy day I gathered myself together and proclaimed, “Suddenly, waiting for the right time for anything seems idiotic.”

Today is the day for lime green and scarlet to collide in a festive fucking pattern all over my torso and for the leather earrings made by my dear desert friend named Spring Rain to inexplicably and perfectly match said pattern. It is a day to wear rad sustainable sunglasses designed by a Beatle’s daughter and to manipulate my hair into not being an awkwardly-grown out bowl cut for 5 minutes.

stella mccartney frames

Today is a day for raw oysters. For extra dog hugs and bubbly baths. For bike rides and beach naps. For macarons and manicures. For finally socially bragging about that one Indie Rock Star you made out with. For using too many adverbs to describe something you experienced fully and transcendently. Today is the day for one-way plane tickets.
For creating that masterpiece.
For loving hard.
For feeling lucky.

Today is for basking in the glow of whatever/whomever it is we love.

Today. Now.
…Or never.

Your life, your call.

Stella McCartney 4040 Sunglasses from Sunglasses Shop
Recycled Leather Earrings by Spring Rain (Verbena Hex)
Tribal Print Mini Dress by Il-La-La
Vintage leather wedges from Barrio Vintage, Honolulu
Gold mesh waist belt, thrifted in Phoenix for $2

photos by Ryan Flynn

Check Out My Place: Making Every Day Cuter.

I’m moving in two weeks! Usually in my world that means I’ve got a bad case of springtime wanderlust and I’m selling all my stuff to live out of suitcases for an unspecified amount of time before landing in an unspecified town. Flying by the seat of my newly-hemmed short shorts.
Well, I’m still selling all my stuff, but to move directly to a cute vintage loft in Downtown LA for some long overdue, believe-it-or-not, NESTING. It will be on a chic 9th floor right on the border of the Fashion and Art districts. My hand-me-down crap just ain’t gon’ cut it. It has SIX HUMONGOUS WINDOWS. I’ll need new EVERYTHING.

Now here’s where I know I’m finally turning into a grown-up. Last week, instead of my letting my inner teenager stop caring/cleaning my bedroom (because, why put it away if you’re just going to pack it soon anyway) and just pine the days away in my own filth until I move, I decided that every day should just be as cute as possible. Why not? I’ve had a rough year. I deserve a goddamn bedspread. And some cute floral twiggery. And an ochre batik lamp. Now. Life is too short for sheisty dormroom decor.

Should I even bother with The Before?:

No, because no one even sees the half-assed decor. My canine Otis Redding is stealing the show with his utter lugubriousness.

And, well, I was so excited to see this floral twig from Target in My Precious mint and coral Mum vase (from Eve!) that it made it into the before photos. Ewps.


Target Threshold

Ewps, he did it again.
Ewps, he did it again.

Threshold by Target:
8 Piece Batik Damask Bedding Set – $80
Teal Accent Table – $55
Ochre Batik Lamp – $73
Orange Blossom Stem – $13
Who doesn’t love clashing patterns and completely random color schemes?? Really, I’d like to know so I can stay away from them.

Continue reading Check Out My Place: Making Every Day Cuter.

Alive. And, Well…

That, my friends, is what we call an hiatus. Nothing is the same.

Do you ever get these hilariously long, action-packed stretches of euphoric, indescribably magical moments? And they kind of last years? You get caught up in this seemingly indestructible nothing-can-go-wrong-ever-again bubble. And then, as it always goes… *POP*.

I met my boyfriend Rian last July, followed by a chain of glimmering vignettes:
A romantic gold-colored date in a dusty brick corner of candlelit belgian beer bar. Fervent canoe rides in a silvery pond. A giggling late night jog to a bioluminescent beach. Desert adventures. Packs of coyotes. Almost quadra-handedly throwing a romantic egyptian-themed wedding for dear friends. Writing an award-worthy poem about ocelots. Painting an entire house. Getting published in several magazines. Planting an olive orchard. Brewing a saison. Three separate skinny-dipping excursions. Ducklings and baby pigs. Picking wild avocados from a high ocean cliff. Swimming with sea turtles in the dusklight. Losing my bikini top in a 20 foot wave. Collecting hyacinth blossoms in my kayak. Making out in an empty lagoon on Oahu in the dark. Infinity hot tub overlooking the Pacific. Surprise whale-watching, sailing and helicopter rides. Shmancy hotels. The worst motels. Too much sashimi. Making out on a rooftop underneath a fantastic meteor shower. Living at the top of a 1940’s house on the beach. Planning the Great American Roadtrip. Dolphin sightings, sunsets, rollercoasters, bonfires…

Grow Together by May Xiong

And then in June – a trip to Yosemite to photograph the virginal wedding of two human-shaped baby seals, when the reception is interrupted by a phone call:

Because of failure after failure after failure of Kaiser’s doctors to properly diagnose him, my little brother Nik was in emergency surgery for a brain tumor the size of a baseball. This *POP* sounded more like an atom bomb in my brain. I was angry. I panicked. My recent chain of serendipity had turned into an avalanche of WTF. I did not stop panicking for a good 3 months. My boyfriend was like, “Who’s THIS?” We were asking a lot of the same questions.

I fancied it a bit of an existential crisis, which I highly recommend if you live by the ocean and have the luxury of nursing one. Perhaps we are calmed by the ocean because it can give you a very small taste of the infinite. You begin to grasp the rarity of life within the enormity of the universe and what a fantastical, mind-blowing fluke it is that we’re experiencing consciousness, beauty and yes, even sadness. We are alive.

“All sanity depends on this: that it should be a delight to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright, knowing the bones are moving easily under the flesh.”
-Doris Lessing

But in the face of reality, the magic does not stop – rather it takes on a more emphatic glow in the face of all that bubble annihilation – you just have to find it. The only way to cope with the imminence of death is to truly live. My brother faced surgery and chemo like Richard Simmons does a rainy day. My family rallied and found him a promising clinical trial. I started taking my health more seriously. My relationships got stronger. My 3 year old nephew Ennio was diagnosed with epilepsy, but got better with holistic supplements after modern medicine failed him. When our best canine friend Mapplethorpe passed away from cancer, we commissioned his portrait and rescued a puppy who would’ve made him proud. The Great American roadtrip was burgled from us by some incompetent redneck mechanics but we managed to lick every scrap of fun out of Pigeon Forge, TN. You keep calm, carry on, and carpe the fuck out of some diem.

Mapplethorpe by May Xiong

We ate raw oysters. Learned to poach eggs. Sang showtunes while floating in a Pleasure Dome pool in SC. Rainy morning coffee with Jamaica on a river pier in Asheville, NC. A soak in a hot tub overlooking fog-laden Smoky Mountains flickering with fireflies. Dollywood. Disneyland. Guffawed our way through the Troll 2 of overpriced dinosaur-themed carnival rides. Went camping in the rain. Watched out for bears. Beasts of the Southern Wild. Bill Nye the Science Guy’s hand on my left butt cheek (Bill, if you don’t want me to say that about you, consider it redacted, but it was one of the top 3 best moments of my life). Had a just-as-it-should-be conversation with Drew Carey on set of The Price is Right. Took a timely three weeks to tromp around the East Coast with Jamaica before it was destroyed by some hurricane. Under the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Walked across Chicago. Drunk swimming in the ocean while the sun set in November. Richard Simmons’s hand on my right butt cheek after doing the robot with him and Sarah Von Bargen of Yes & Yes.

But the thing about reality is that it is real, and coming to get you whether or not you expect it. Bodies break, we love the wrong people, we lose ourselves, our children are exposed to extreme violence. Tragedy is all at once so unlikely and so damned imminent. But please don’t worry. It is the acceptance of the imminence of tragedy that centers us. As my dear friend Ryan Eastwick would say, “Receive it.” Tragedy reveals your vulnerability and your true self simultaneously. We must nurture our vulnerability like we would nurture a child’s innate courage. That’s where the fertile ground is. In September I spoke to an Argentine lady whose son had recently committed suicide. She said, “I had to take that pain and turn it into something creative and productive or I would die.”

“Do not despise your inner world… As we grow, we all develop a wide range of emotions responding to this predicament: fear that bad things will happen and that we will be powerless to ward them off; love for those who help and support us; grief when a loved one is lost; hope for good things in the future; anger when someone else damages something we care about. Our emotional life maps our incompleteness: A creature without any needs would never have reasons for fear, or grief, or hope, or anger. But for that very reason we are often ashamed of our emotions, and of the relations of need and dependency bound up with them… So people flee from their inner world of feeling, and from articulate mastery of their own emotional experiences… We are all going to encounter illness, loss, and aging, and we’re not well prepared for these inevitable events by a culture that directs us to think of externals only, and to measure ourselves in terms of our possessions of externals.
“What is the remedy of these ills? A kind of self-love that does not shrink from the needy and incomplete parts of the self, but accepts those with interest and curiosity, and tries to develop a language with which to talk about needs and feelings. Storytelling plays a big role in the process of development. As we tell stories about the lives of others, we learn how to imagine what another creature might feel in response to various events. At the same time, we identify with the other creature and learn something about ourselves. As we grow older, we encounter more and more complex stories — in literature, film, visual art, music — that give us a richer and more subtle grasp of human emotions and of our own inner world. So my second piece of advice, closely related to the first, is: Read a lot of stories, listen to a lot of music, and think about what the stories you encounter mean for your own life and lives of those you love. In that way, you will not be alone with an empty self; you will have a newly rich life with yourself, and enhanced possibilities of real communication with others.”
-Philosopher Martha Nussbaum

Painfully Hip turned me into a writer (by definition) and I remain forever grateful for my friends, family, and the internet’s acceptance and encouragement to turn that into actual creative writing. Because sometimes life gets too real to write about brands or trends or other people’s art and that’s when your passions get whittled out from The Things That Keep You Busy. So I am going to put on my ladies trousers and write what I know best and I’m not sure I care who reads it. I just know I need to write to truly live.

So bring on your End of the World. If you need me, I’ll be devouring the minutes.

Check Me Out: Traveling Shoes

Tucson, darling. It’s been almost three glorious years, and this is really hard to say, but I just have to come right out with it: I’m leaving you.

Wait. Stop. I can’t take it when you look at me that way. Listen baby, Its not what you think. I still love you. I don’t want to leave, it’s just… I want to see other cities for a while. Hey no, hold on. Don’t be jealous. Lord knows you have more amazing women at any given time than any other city of your size, and I’ve been loyal to you this whole time. What? No, that’s not what I meant. Size doesn’t matter anyway, you know that.

Please, I need you to understand. It’s not you. Its just that I haven’t really spent quality time with very many cities, and I can’t really be sure I’m ready to settle down if I’ve got this itch to see other places, you know? I’d always be wondering what else was out there. You wouldn’t want that would you?

We both know I’ll be back one day, but until then, here’s something for us to remember each other by. I took a farewell walk through your oldest streets last evening in my favorite boots, in a dress I just made for my last fashion show as your resident.

The Dreamer Boots by Nicole are not only super comfy, but they go with everything and make me feel like a gazelle. I’m about to fully embrace a nomadic lifestyle, and in preparation, have gotten rid of all my possessions, excepting what I can carry. Admittedly, these boots are a bit bulkier than the average traveler would recommend. And okay sure, they don’t pack easily, but what that says to me is I should never take them off.

Baby, when I look down at my feet I’ll always think of you. And one day, the boots will come striding back through your dusty desert streets again. You can take the girl out of the desert, but you can’t take the desert out of the girl.

After all, we’re obviously sole mates.

And with a bad pun, I exit.

Nicole Dreamer Boots
, $145
One of a kind black wrap dress with embroidery detail, Sapphire Cordial. Price on request.
H&M hat, gift from my friend Megan
Coyote earrings, gift from Amber

Photos by Ciaran Harman

Check Me Out: Well, Helloooooo Summer

The Painfully Hip Roadtrip II : Taco Yacht Pleasure Cruise to the Future has begun! This is me before hopping on a plane headed due east. We started the cruise in Jacksonville, North Carolina and holy moly, it has waaaaay outdone its name. Updates soon.

Yes, I have surrendered to the pastel hair bug. Couldn’t help it, it must be contagious. You could call it spring fever (this cut does remind me of a tulip or an easter egg), but I call it “finally embracing my awkward techni-follicled high school days.”

But my DIY ombre platinum-lavender bowl-cut also happens to be subtle. Right?
It even lets this bold tropical print sing. Ah, birds of paradise. This top obliterates any and all lingering winter blues within seconds.

All clothing and shoes from:

Disclosure: Bloggers received a gift card on behalf of Kohl’s via Glam Media to complete the trend look. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kohl’s. All trademarks and service marks are owned or licensed by Kohl’s Illinois, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc.

Check Me Out: Bird of Paradise

There are several different species of exotic parrots that have been flying wildly and loudly around greater Los Angeles since the ’80s. Today I was squinting up at them when I realized we were wearing the same thing. Plumage.

Bill Cunningham, the New York Times’ street wear photographer (my favorite fashion personality EVER – I would gladly insult several kittens if he would only be my grampa for a day) once said,

“It’s always the hope that you’ll see some marvelous exotic bird of paradise, meaning a very elegant stunning woman or someone wearing something terrific… The wider world perceives fashion sometimes as a frivolity that should be done away with in the face of social upheavals and problems that are enormous. The point is, in fact, that it’s the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. To do away with it would be like doing away with civilization.”

I love the clean canvas white provides for accessories and colorblocking, but sometimes I want the beautiful simplicity of white to be the decoration. Like (for all intents and purposes) my hair, and this little filigree sweater. White/navy striped espadrilles for the sake of sweet, sweet Nautica. This sheer pleated skirt stands out-loudly from its pale canvas of white crochet and winter legs.

The more I settle into my relatively newfound confidence, the less I care about things like following trends (well white is, almost always, a spring trend), and well, getting flattering haircuts. With this self-inflicted hairdo, I’ve actively embraced the humorously bulbous shape of my head and the freckled paleness of my skin. In a small way, to embrace white is to embrace your body for what it is: a canvas.

All clothing and shoes from:

Disclosure: Bloggers received a gift card on behalf of Kohl’s via Glam Media to complete the trend look. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kohl’s. All trademarks and service marks are owned or licensed by Kohl’s Illinois, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc.

Check Me Out: Colors of the Wind

As I calmly began filing through the racks at Kohl’s, I was not expecting to end up with a huge armful of Jennifer Lopez and Lauren Conrad, yet there I was. When mine eyes received the glory of this deep purple pleated chiffon column dress, an involuntarily breathy “YESSSssss…” escaped my lips. I pined for her so hard, I referred to her with gender-specific pronouns and declared, Welcome, to my closet, new friend, welcome. We re going straight to the beach so we can have ourselves a Little House on the Prairie moment with the wind.

Now if you’re going to go bold, you might as well boldly go all the way, so I decided to go Full Seventies on this dress. On go a pair of studded vintage candy apple platforms, a cropped leather jacket and some gold chains, complete with a Neverending Story-worthy sapphire pendant.

It is fancy, it is long, but I imagine I ll be wearing this confection wherever the heck I feel like. It could be easily mistaken for red carpet fare when worn with pretty much any heel. But you could also rock it with flat sandals for shopping or beltless on the beach. Bright colors are an absolute must this spring (see my editorial inside Reinventing Beauty Magazine, available at all major drugstores). This dress was designed by Lauren Conrad, regularly priced at $75. But I found it on sale for $50! You better believe I’m pulling this off the hanger every chance I get. Shoes and necklace are from Barrio Vintage, Honolulu.

Disclosure: Bloggers received a gift card on behalf of Kohl’s via Glam Media to complete the trend look. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kohl’s. All trademarks and service marks are owned or licensed by Kohl’s Illinois, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc.

Check Me Out: One Lucky Girl

Have you ever had the realization there wasn’t a single thing you’d want to change about your life, even if a billowing Angela Landsbury emerged from a magic teapot to grant you a wish? Well, maybe after a jillion dollars (and a burrito) rained down on me, I’d feel that way. Still. I call myself damn lucky.

Reason #1 My new boyfriend is sweet, talented, adventurous, grows one helluva beard, and actually likes hanging out with my mom, taking time to watch every single sunset, and taking photos of me. I’m still convinced he immortalizes my days just to show his friends the hilarious jokes I call “outfits.” This one involves combining black with brown, mixed metals, mixed leathers, and a DIY hairdo. Salons in LA are defined as dodgy if they don’t charge at least one limb for a haircut.

Reason #2 In spite of my best efforts, my hair color manages to look like I may still have salon connections – or at least that’s what I’ve been getting. But! There were no actual skills involved – I literally pinned up the top layer of my platinum locks and slapped a foolproof sample of John Frieda Precision Foam Color (in Dark Cool Pearl Blonde) onto the under layer. This stuff is brilliant. The haircut was inspired by Joan of Arc, Louise Brooks, and Jamaica’s self-inflicted bowl-cut (Experimentation + Luck = SKILLUSION).

Reason #3 Just over a week after arriving in LA, I scored a meeting with the VP of Online Marketing for Lucky Brand. He said I was their quintessential Southern California Girl. “Huh! SURE!” I agreed. Among other things, he ended up sending me these gorgeous art nouveau earrings, and a pair of leather platform dream shoes. Little does he know that after just over 3 months here, I’m a total convert. Charlie, you’re a prophet.

Reason #4 This outfit cost me a grand total of $8, thanks to my sponsors and friends.
Gold Earrings and Shoes – Lucky Brand
Sunglasses – American Apparel
Vintage Bustier – $4 Thrift Store, Phoenix
Leather Jacket – a gift, vintage made in Vancouver, BC
Silver Bangle – Barrio Vintage, Honolulu
Gold Bangle and Leather Belt – $4 Thrift Store, Tucson

Reason #5 I’ve got spreads coming out in Material Girl Magazine, Estetica and nationally available (at all major drug stores) Reinventing Beauty Magazine. Woo!

photos by Rian Flynn