Gratefully Wed: Our Own Little Clan of Believers

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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.

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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.


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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.
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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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CREDITS:

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

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Location is Everything

Autumn always makes me nostalgic. And anytime I’m feeling that way, I take a few minutes to lingeringly peruse old photos, comparing my memories vs. level of sincerity of facial expression, the length of my perpetually-trying-to-grow-it-out hair, and my past personal trends.

I’ve noticed as I’ve moved to various cities that my style changes with me. A lot of it depends on climate of course, but my backdrop and mood seem to feed my sartorial choices the most.

In Tucson I rocked almost nothing but very (very) short floral dresses or flowy chiffon tops, cowboy boots and big earrings, all in romantic washed out desert shades of beige, pale blue and pink and sealed with a matte bright orange kiss.
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In LA I was overcome with the urge for some classic pieces, and gravitated toward a basic palette with playful, colorful accessories.
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After moving to Oakland in August, comfort has taken top priority, so I’m sticking with jewel tones and cozy layers.
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But I still have all the othertownly stuff! My favorite pair of cowboy boots are perfect for a stroll in the desert, but in northern California they just don’t look right. Nor do I feel appropriately dressed here in pastel florals or carrying a bright handbag (and not just because it seems to be shouting “steal me!”). I need to match my city. And though no one ever said the Bay Area isn’t colorful, it takes a lot to get me into brights. It takes LA.

So what’s to become of my discarded loves in this new gray world? I’ll wear them in LA and in Tucson, because I can’t stand to stay put. I have visits planned for Christmas! And springtime! And those LA duds will transfer quite nicely when Amber and I find a couple of cheap flights to New York. I’ll just trade the stripes in for something less casual and add in my Oakland warmies. I think after purging my entire closet last August, I’ve actually built up enough variation to feel right at home in most towns.

One day, however, I will finally end up in New Orleans, and all the lace in the world won’t be enough.

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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:

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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.”

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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.

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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

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They’re All Made Out of Ticky-Tacky and They All Look Just the Same: Why and How I’m Quitting Forever 21

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Oh how I wish the second half of this post’s title was “Why I Don’t Shop at Forever 21”. But I can’t write that yet. The earrings I’m wearing right now were purchased from the Christian sweatshop giant. So were my jeans.

I am well aware that Forever 21 and other throw-away fashion dynasties are not paying their workers enough, that cheap labor goes hand in hand with cheap fabrics and poor construction, that they steal their designs from others, and preach with their bright yellow “LOOK AT ME I AM A CONSUMER” plastic bags. And yet, I still find myself wandering in semi-regularly, and often wandering out with some mass-produced somehow already cliché thin-as-a-tissue article of clothing I will only wear a few times before it either rips or bores me because I’ve seen a version of it on sixteen other girls in one day. My point is, I know better. I’m embarrassed that I do it. I beg them not to bag my purchase and instead surreptitiously stuff it into my purse, which I also purchased at Forever 21.

But then I’ll get compliments when I wear these items, which also shames me to no end. I admit my folly in an Eeyore voice with my head hung low, unintentionally advertising for them, which makes me feel even worse. One would think that after all of this remorse, I would have enough self control to stop shopping there. So why do I keep going back?

Well, I’m poor as shit and I want to look cute.

Always the first excuse. I live in Los Angeles. Everything is expensive here, and though some are just fine with riding the bus to the laundromat in sweatpants and holey socks, I am not one of those people.

And I know I could buy used clothing. Thrifting has been in my blood since I was a below the poverty-level 6th grader. But back then, I’d drop $20 for several Grocery Outlet bags full of awesome 70’s blouses, flowing maxi skirts, and kooky wooden parrot necklaces. These days, the only “vintage” stuff you can find at Goodwill (at least in LA) is from the mid-90’s and almost as expensive as it was when it was new. And sorting through the mounds of stained, synthetic, cargo-pocketed nightmares for that one gem you just know is in there somewhere is exhausting and time consuming.

Excuses, excuses, right? I could make excuses all day. But being broke does not a saint make. Sure, I’m broke. Most of us are. But buying “affordable” new clothes is such a waste of money in the long run. Not only are these purchases physically not going to stand the test of time, Forever 21 and its competitors release so many new collections a year that by the time their cutesy 21 day return policy runs out, your adorable new jacket is already “out of style”.

I could also go on a diatribe about how even the name of the company is unsettling, how the focus on eternal-just-of-drinking-age youth is enforcing that “little girl in the form of a woman” stereotype I so despise, dismissing the idea that there is any point to life if you aren’t young and attractive, but I don’t want to get angry. Again, WHY do we (I) keep going back?

We (I) forget.

It’s the first warm, sunny day of spring. You weren’t prepared for the weather, since you left home early this morning. Now you’re off work, which happens to be right next to the mall. You have a date later and the thought of bare legs on a balmy beachy afternoon with your lover sounds too divine to deny. You could go home to change, but there are at least 150 different brand new dresses in one store 30 feet from you that could be yours right now in exchange for the meager tips in your pocket. And even if thoughts of sweatshop labor and copyright infringement pop in to your head, hey, its only one dress. And three necklaces. And four pairs of tights. There are so many adorable items at your fingertips (that someone else designed first and that were sewn by workers making less than minimum wage)! And this dress is only $19.95! And this is the last time you’ll ever shop here. You swear.

Every little bit adds up. And if you’re like me and you impulse buy when you have a spare few bucks, you end up with a closet full of mass-produced junk.

If only I put that petty cash away, I could afford to buy quality clothing. I’m not talking about overpriced just-because-its-designer items, but a few well made trend-proof pieces that will last. Jeans, versatile dresses, jackets. Sure, they’re a little pricier, but that’s because the company who made them thought enough of their employees to pay them a humane wage.

Buy quality staples, and if you’re craving seasonal pieces and good deals, don’t lazily duck into the mall. Shop like you mean it. Take the day and drive out to estate sales, where all the awesome vintage shit is in pristine condition. Or hit up thrift stores in weird little mountain towns, where they haven’t been picked over and the dresses are only six bucks. If you must stay in the city, visit buy-sell-trade places, where everything is still cheaper than at the mall, but the mountains of junk sorting has been done for you and you’re still recycling!

I am making a resolution to never buy from Forever 21 again. And if you’re reading this, I hope you’ll join me. Consider it spring cleaning for your conscience.

Even though the number of ethical reasons for making this stand is out of the ballpark, the main reason I’m making it is that I don’t want to be a cookie-cutter American Millennial. In high school, I showed up to school one day in the same shirt as a classmate’s and something in me snapped. After that, I prided myself on dressing “different”. I came back after winter break wearing layers of my dad’s discarded 70’s clothes, mixed with weird pieces I made myself before I really knew how to sew. I may have looked bizarre, I may have been acting out, but I was 100% me. My style has since balanced into a neutral heavy, travel inspired, vintagey-modern, subtly feminine mix. I don’t have a concept of my style. We’ve all seen those “what’s your personal style?” quizzes that only have like 5 outcomes. Why do I have to be categorized, I wonder? Because then I can be put into a target market and advertised to. Please join me in saying a very ladylike “fuck that”.

Don’t let anyone tell you what you want to wear. And the next time you find yourself staring in the window of a Forever 21, watching three cloned girls with ombre dye jobs try on the same dress, you can proudly turn your back because you are trend-proof. You are uncategorizable.

I’ll leave you with this bit of brilliance:

When I ask for a garment of a particular form, my tailoress tells me gravely, “They do not make them so now,” not emphasizing the “They” at all, as if she quoted an authority as impersonal as the Fates, and I find it difficult to get made what I want, simply because she cannot believe that I mean what I say, that I am so rash. When I hear this oracular sentence, I am for a moment absorbed in thought, emphasizing to myself each word separately that I may come at the meaning of it, that I may find out by what degree of consanguinity They are related to me, and what authority They may have in an affair which affects me so nearly; and, finally, I am inclined to answer her with equal mystery, and without any more emphasis of the “They” – “It is true, they did not make them so recently, but they do now.”

-Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Now go change into something “weird”. If you feel like it.

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Being Your Art : Inside Frida Kahlo’s Closet

Many of us never really find out what defines us beyond the friends we keep, the bands we hate, and how we like our eggs cooked. We hesitate, we bury the truth. We hold up our flickering candles while people we admire are overflowing like volcanoes. Frida Kahlo knew no such meekness of character. Her selfness could not be contained. Her art did not end at the edge of a canvas. It pumped through her veins, it welled in her eyes, it pervaded everything.

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“Really, I do not know whether my paintings are surrealist or not, but I do know that they are the frankest expression of myself.”

“The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.”

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”
-Frida Kahlo


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Fifty five years after her death, the contents of Frida’s closet (long sealed by her surviving lover Diego Rivera) are now on exhibit at the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City. Oh, to have been present the moment this monument was unlocked, to witness her joyous deluge awakening to creaking hinges. Having survived a spinal birth defect, childhood polio, devastating injuries from a trolley crash, and a repeatedly broken heart, Frida’s wardrobe seems to celebrate the miracle of borrowed time.


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Some people (usually called artists) instinctively transform pain and hardship into insight, humor and solidified beauty like it was a chemical reaction. For Frida, life, art and pain were literally inextricable. Her body cast and corrective boot were vibrant canvasses. She braided ribbons and enormous flowers into her hair and wore an envious overabundance of oversized jewels, vivid lipsticks, and facial hair. Incorporating her dreams and nightmares, she immortalized every detail of her style and rustic elegance in a series of self-portraits that would come to profoundly influence fashion and art forever.

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I know I could stand to be a little more like Frida.

Be Honest About Who You Are.
Frida could have just as easily plucked her eyebrows and waxed her lip, but instead she stood out proudly amongst a sea of forgettable femininity. She drank, swore, and got depressed. But even as her body ached and her husband philandered with models and dancers, she roared with authenticity.

“I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows. But now the damned things have learned to swim ,and now decency and good behavior weary me.”
-Frida Kahlo

Create.
Creativity is our attempt to communicate what is ultimately inexpressible; how we interpret our individual realities. From the delicate way you slice onions to how you make your bed, your life is your Art. Fashion is nothing but a precious daily opportunity to turn our soft little bodies into works of beauty. Figure out what you love and do it as often as you can. Create until there is nothing left in your head. Write to figure out what’s in there in the first place.

Garnish your daily life with humor and beauty like there actually is no tomorrow.
Sing in the shower. Wear party dresses to dinner. Pile on costume jewelry like it’s going out of style. Paint your house a heartbreaking shade of indigo. And ferchrissakes, laugh.

“Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing.”
-Frida Kahlo

Life is too short for hesitation. Art is not art if it is half-assed.

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Under the Boardwalk


I write this as a tribute to the Atlantic City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. My thoughts are with the East Coasters I love, those whose magic paths I crossed, those strangers whose eyes have ever absently caught mine for a brief still moment, those Alley Cat Allies cats who live under the boardwalk.

Atlantic City and I have always had an unspoken romance.

Completely unspoken.
And one sided.

But after twenty-nine years of daydreaming, I awoke October 20th in a cushy queen bed in the Trump Plaza Hotel with a mighty hangover and fuzzy neon memories of the night before, of Atlantic City’s seedy streets unobscured by an underbelly.
Amber and I had ventured into the World’s Favorite Playground the evening before. On the drive I told her of my unfounded longing for AC, spurred only by an early childhood love of the song Under the Boardwalk by The Drifters.

It’s such a lazy summer song, but the tone in the chorus sounds like a warning.

UNDER THE BOARDWALK.

It sounds dangerous, like a gang straight out of The Outsiders is standing waiting for you, and as you approach, they all draw their switchblades in time to the word “WALK”. Either that or a shark’s fin is circling you in the sand.

But really, the song isn’t about much. You’re out of the sun, having some fun, and making love while tourists walk overhead, which I suppose is dangerous in its own way. I always loved the simplicity of the scene it evoked, and saw it in pastels. A girl in gingham, eyes closed, lips parted. Her hair in perfect pin curls. Her lover is tanned, handsome. Tiny stripes of sunlight from between the boards above them dash across bare skin. They are holding their poses like mannequins, softly awaiting a directive that will allow them to resume their caresses. But this is my daydream, and I want to pause it here for eternity, let nothing change, let these lovers never part, let the sun never set.

So basically I figured that in Atlantic City, it is always the 1950’s.

This assumption, I’m afraid, faded upon our arrival. We piped the song via youtube through the car stereo on repeat, 2012ing the shit out of it as we pulled into one of the multilevel parking structures at Trump Plaza.

What followed was several hours of sensory overload: a flurry of flashing lights, dings rings and bells, cheap drinks, free drinks, giant buddhas, racist slot machines, hot wings, felafels, more drinks, walls of dollar bills, fountains, strippers, and so much more.

As we walked arm in arm down a windy street, a gentleman suggested his friend “get those girls”, to which his friend replied, “Dude, I don’t have any money.”

I had a secondary modern daydream of winning big on the penny slots, maybe buying us a couple of diamond rings, but alas, at our best we cashed out with $.04.

So upon waking the next morning, I resigned myself to the fact that Atlantic City’s boardwalk is, just as I was told, a quainter Vegas with a real beach. At least now I knew. At least I was no longer living a lie.

We made our way down to the hotel pool, where we swam and discussed Singing in the Rain and the nature of love vs. self-preservation. At some point during this conversation, it became the 1980’s and we smoked imaginary Virginia Slims as we gazed out at the ocean through the floor to ceiling windows.
We glanced around and decided it was the 1920’s as well.

Venturing out onto the boardwalk in the October sun only fed our time travel greed, and by the time we made our way under the boardwalk to snap some photos, the fact that we were youtubing the song again was inconsequential, as the 50’s had overtaken me. A singular iPhone was no match for this desaturated seaside dreamland.

As if to show us we were doing something right, the song came on of it’s own accord minutes later, streaming through the House of Blues speakers as we stood beneath them, and I soaked up my little present from the universe. Not a week later, a Spanish-language version blessed my ears in a NYC taqueria, and last night in Marina del Rey, CA, a live band played the song as the reunited Taco Yacht Pleasure Crew gobbled down several metric tons of seafood.

Yep, I finally made it to LA. And as long as The Drifters surprise serenade me weekly, I’m going to assume that I’m right where I should be.

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Where in Time is Jamaica Cole?

Homeless, aimless and unemployed, I appear to be in gypsy mode once again. But that doesn’t mean I’m going go overboard with baubles (overbauble?) and dress like a schizophrenic costume shop refugee a like I did in 2009. This time I’m taking the high road (well, only clothing-wise. The low road has WAY better bars).

For the past six months or so, I’ve cooled it with my accessory obsession (obsessory? accession?) (sorry) (not sorry) and stuck to a look comprised mostly of dresses and shoes. There is a get-up-and-go simplicity about it, and it’s given me the opportunity to downsize my wardrobe into a travel-friendly two-bag affair. However, I seem to have only collected a variety of short floral dresses and cowboy boots and now I look like I’m wearing a Jamaica costume.

Something must be done, lest I end up an action figure. I can see it now: a displeased plastic frown from juggling my miniature suitcases while trying to find my tiny boarding pass. My haircut comes pre-experimented on by little kid scissors, and if you look in my luggage, there are seven more outfits exactly like the one I’m wearing.

I have approximately one more month in Tucson before I’m truly floating in the wind. Now is the time for reinvention! So stylistically, I’ve decided to embrace the vagabond life in a Kathleen-Turner-in Body-Heat homage to the 1930’s via the 1980’s.

Confused? Good. So am I.

Whilst thrifting in Flagstaff, AZ with my mom, I came across this pattern:

The masculine/feminine silhouette balance and the monochrome simplicity made me weak at the knees, and better yet, this (view B) is one of those easily thriftable looks. A pair of high rise pleated pants can be easily made into shorts with minimal sewing skills. Just cut a couple of inches longer than intended, then roll up, tack down and press. Wear with a brown belt over a simple silk tank and then throw on one of those ubiquitous oversized white button downs and roll up the sleeves. Top with a wide brimmed hat or a pair of big earrings, adopt a breathy voice, and you’ll win/break the heart of almost every character ever portrayed by Michael Douglas.

Want to embody a modern, monochrome Carmen Sandiego, but avoid the Polly Esther Fabrique? If you’re not me, you could try the actual high road and achieve this look with new clothes!



above photos via fashion gone rogue

And if you want to get just crazy high on the high road (at least as far as scoring points with yours truly is concerned), be sure to check out what may very well be my last Tucson fashion show on July 20th. The theme of the night is “future primitive”, and even though I appear to be doing “vintage modern”, I’m sure I can rationalize it all somehow. In keeping with my current approach toward life in general, the best plan is…no plan?

I wonder how I’ll manage to pull this one off.

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YACHT COUTURE: Check Us Out: Oh Lord, Stuck in Pigeon Forge Again

We have reached (hopefully) our last day of being stranded in Pigeon Forge, TN. Our darling little Taco Yacht has been in the hospital (a field full of broken down vehicles next to a warehouse) getting her transmission replaced for the last four days. Two days before that, we had decided to take a two night driving break at a friend’s rented cabin, completely unaware that the Smoky Mountains were plotting to envelop us for an entire week.

Of course we are making the best of it, thanks to a series of absurd events. Within an hour of becoming yachtless, we were offered discount tickets to Dollywood by a sweet waitress at a BBQ joint.

This resulted in my finally losing my rollercoaster virginity and afterward being able to see the unfortunate expression I will make the exact moment I know my life is ending. My death face is, thank god, forever lost in the Dollywood Database of Horrified Expressions. The only way to see it would be to kill me.

After three days in Baptist Vegas, we decided to escape briefly.

I’m wearing Amber’s amazing Montecristo Sun Hat, a four dollar swimsuit coverup from H&M as a dress, and my favorite comfy lace up boots from St Vincent de Paul in Tucson. Amber is glowing in my Buffalo Exchange dress, Gentle Souls sandals, a vintage necklace thrifted from Phoenix, AZ and the glorious Traveler Hat.
We procured a rental car and drove into Smoky Mountain National Park to reach the highest point in Tennessee. Then we realized we had driven back into North Carolina. That’s right, folks. Over a week on the road and we’re barely a state over. The view from the top was beyond spectacular

All in all, Pigeon Forge isn’t the worst place to be stranded. There is endless entertainment if you’re willing to spend the cash to experience something as awe-full as the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride or the life size replica of the Titanic. Gatlinburg, the next town over, has proved to be much more varied (they can serve booze here) and down-homey. I’m currently drinking too much coffee in a cutesy little shopping center, and was just about to explain how Gatlinburg seems to have a little more heart and might be a little less conservative than it’s neighbors, and then I looked up and saw a confederate flag in the window of the shop next door. It’s definitely time to make our way north. Next up, Kentucky.

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YACHT COUTURE: Anchors Aweigh Edition

You, dear reader, must of course be familiar with Amber’s wanderlust. She’s been to (and lived in) an absolutely disgusting number of places, places that take on only the most movie-cliched cartoonish appearance in my daydreams, with a few unlikely details added, courtesy of my strange imagination.

Q&A With Myself
Q: What’s Chicago like, Jamaica?

A: Everything has a silvery-gray tint to it, and everybody stays inside except for one attractive couple, who may or may not be Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston circa 2006, walking everywhere montage-style, holding hands and smiling at each other without speaking. The montage soundtrack is just the sound of wind.

Ok, so I know nothing about Chicago, but that’s not to say I haven’t traveled at all. I’ve been to some choice North American locales: New York, New Orleans, Miami, Vancouver, Puerto Penasco in Mexico, and pretty much everywhere in California…I even made it to London a few years ago. But apart from a few trips to Los Angeles, I haven’t gone ANYWHERE in the last two years. Which is why, friends, I am beyond excited to join Amber, her man and her man’s main man for a long anticipated cross country voyage from North Carolina to LA next month!

Q: What do you mean “voyage”, Jamaica? Do you actually think there is a body of water that stretches across the states? I know you haven’t been to the middle of the country, but I can assure you that it is indeed made of land. You did make it through grade school, didn’t you?

A: Don’t get haughty, get yacht-y! Our vehicle of choice is a transformed 70’s taco truck that has been formally christened “The Taco Yacht”. See below:

Besides the obvious value the paint job lends, I especially like the crown detail over the door (actually a rock-climbing practice implement), and how the front end has the profile of Mickey Rourke. And notice how little space it takes up in a normal parking spot? Can you say cozy? I also think I spy a ladder up the back for easy roof access (that’s what she said…?), so I imagine many a Midwestern sunset viewing in my immediate future.

Q: Immediate, huh?

A: Well, we embark toward our departure point in Jacksonville, NC on June 6th after meeting at the Phoenix airport. At the bar, of course. From Jacksonville we have a loose route “planned” through Nashville, Chicago, Omaha, Salt Lake City, Lincoln CA, then down the coast to Los Angeles.

Q: So this is a fashion blog, right? Aren’t you going to ramble on about what you’re bringing with you, or…?

A: I’ve already set aside most of my intended wardrobe, since I’m moving out of my house and into, well, I don’t know yet. I’m winging it this summer.

Q: That sounds very irresponsible.

A: That wasn’t even a question. Look, I’ve got it all under control, okay?

Q: You answered my statement with a question.

A: That wasn’t a question either! We’re getting off-topic. Where were we? Wardrobe!

As you all know, I’ve been extremely fond of chiffon lately. Chiffond? So first I’ll be packing several breezy tanks. This will be great for variety because I can easily change my look by putting on a different undergarment! You don’t get sick of looking through a car window, do you? Sure, the glass is always there, but the scenery changes! In this scenario, if my shirt is the glass and the scenery is my bra, then my skin underneath must be the universe as a spinning cd encompassing everyone’s beliefs and making them all true or whatever that skeezy mustachioed dude at the bar a couple of weeks ago was saying to try and impress me at the cost of his own profundity.

Q: Who’s off-topic now?

A: I apologize. I promise to post my packing list when departure is imminent, but for now I still have a rather daydreamy vision of the trip ahead. It normally would be as vague and absurd as my Chicago fantasy, but thanks to the internet, we’ve been able to research such roadside attractions as the impossibly racist sounding Pedroland Park and the fancy astroturf and pvc pipe detailing at Spencer’s Hot Springs, along with various state parks, weird shrines, and OMG SO MUCH THRIFTING.

Think of it as the sequel to the Painfully Hip Road Trip:

PHRT2: Return to the Revenge of the Mysterious Curse of Thriftown USA

You read that right. More plot twists than I have conversations with myself.

Q: What are you implying?

A: Hush.

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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

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