What I Learned

blue shirt white jeans brown sandals by 14 shades of grey

The school year is coming to an end. This also marked the end of my first year as an instructor. A few years ago, I’d never thought I would be a teacher of any kind (did some tutoring in college, hated it), so I’m pleasantly surprised that I didn’t crash and burn at the end of this year. I guess it was a learning process for me as much as it was for the students. I’ve learned a lot, but you know what the number one thing is? Take care of your throat. You wouldn’t think it’s that significant, but I’ve had a lot of sore throat last year just from talking for three hours straight in class. Now I carry a little jar of honeyed limes in my bag at all time. They work wonders.

Anyway, it’s the last week of work before summer vacation – all the finals are marked, the grades turned in, and I just had some mopping up to do, so I opted for something easy and summery (which I totally copied from Fran.) At the end of the day, I just needed untuck the tunic and switch shoes, and voilà – a more casual look.

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Tunic (as shirt): thrifted, Jeans: Calvin Klein, Sandals: Zalora, Belt: local shop, Necklace: vintage

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Maybe I’ve Stopped Over-thinking

blue striped shirt black pleated skirt red flats by 14 shades of grey

Recently a friend has asked me if my sense of style has improved since I started the blog. I said “Definitely!” My sense of style before the blog was not so much disastrous as it was non-existent (my idea of “dressing up” was to wear my one button-up with whatever pair of sneakers that was clean), so this blog has taught me, if nothing else, to put more thoughts into what I wear.

Of course, there is another side to that, which is that sometimes it makes me over-think it. Only now, after two years of blogging, that I began to learn to realize when I’m over-thinking my outfits and piling too many accessories or combining too many colors in one. This outfit is an example. I started out with a brooch at the shirt collar because I thought the outfit needed some piece of jewelry, but it made me look like a 19th century governess, so I took it out. I’m still trying to give a modern spin to my vintage aesthetic (if that doesn’t sound too much like an oxymoron), and simplifying things is a start.

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blue striped shirt black pleated skirt by 14 shades of greyblack pleated skirt red flats by 14 shades of grey

blue striped shirt by 14 shades of grey

Shirt: thrifted via Buffalo Exchange, Skirt: thrifted, Belt: Forever21, Flats: Caprice
Post title: lyric from Snow Patrol’s Warmer Climate (because it’s been what, a whole month since I used their lyrics as my titles?)

take one pass it on 08


Book Review: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

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I can’t remember when I first heard of Haruki Murakami or why I decided that I wanted to read “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”, but the blurb on Amazon.com may give you an idea:

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his  wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

From that blurb, I thought I was in for a more eccentric, more Japanese version of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, sort of an urban fantasy take on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth (now I want to write that book. How come nobody’s written that book? You guys be the witnesses – I thought of it first, OK?) So I was kinda disappointed to realize, as I read on, that “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” has no fantasy element in it. In fact, its depiction of an empty life in 1980’s Japan and all of its horrors is as real as can be, even if the way the plot develops – how those horrors manifest or how the characters react to them – can be very surreal.

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I think that if I went into it knowing what the book is, I would be more open to it. As such, I pretty much shut down when I figured out there wouldn’t be any fairy or monster (not the traditional kinds anyway). The story I find a little slow, a little episodic, and here’s my biggest problem with it: sometimes I feel that it’s just weird for weirdness’ sake. There are too many bizarre events without any explanation, too many mysteries without a solution, too many scenes of disturbing violence without rhyme or reason to them. I know that’s the point of the story, and that you’re supposed to take what you can from it, but the only thing I can draw from “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” is this: Japan is weird (although you can blame a lot of it on the Western world.) And that I already know.

Despite of all that, I don’t hate the book. Once you get into each individual part of the story, it’s quite engrossing, enough for me to finish all 700+ pages of it without feeling like it’s a chore. I appreciate it for what it’s trying to do; it just doesn’t stick with me. I guess it’s not my kind of book.

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My outfit, as you can see, is to mimic the cover of the Vietnamese edition. I was trying to recreate the Japanese street style with the layering, but it didn’t turn out quite right. Next time I’m not going to be so literal with it.

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Tunic: thrifted via Buffalo Exchange, Sweater: Fedora Boutique
Jeans: H&M, Boots: Journee via Amazon, Brooch: vintage


Cafe Lautrec And Joma Bakery

Since moving home my weekend has been kind of askew – I have Sunday and Monday free. Because of the time difference, Monday for me is still Sunday in the US and the place I freelance for won’t send me new work until (my) Tuesday. So most Mondays I’ve spent hanging out with Debbi. Today we went back to our favorite bookstore. There’s a Cafe Lautrec on the way, and seeing how this week’s inspiration for Style Imitating Art is Toulouse-Lautrec’s In Bed, of course I had to ask Debbi to take my outfit picture in front of it. It’s attached to a 5-star hotel though, so we didn’t check it out – it’ll be way too expensive.

Then we had a disgustingly good brunch (BLT on bagel for Debbi and a waffle drenched in butter and syrup for me) at the Joma Bakery Cafe, where we got the chocolate chip cookie last time. We haven’t been checking out the local food as much as we should, but in 95-degree weather, when you have a choice between an air-conditioned cafe and a street food stall… At least this place supports fair-trade farmers and even partners with an organization to help disadvantaged women, so you can feel good about eating there. After that, it’s another lazy afternoon at the bookstore. All in all, a good Monday.


My King Joffrey impersonating face… maybe?

Tunic & Oxfords: thrifted via Buffalo Exchange, Pants: thrifted


The Stranger

Only one more to go… As much as I enjoy this round of 30×30, I’m still having that “end-of-semester” feel, when you’re so close to the break but still have that one paper to write, one more project to finish.

By the way, do I look like myself in this outfit? I have to ask because our dog Taco, upon seeing me walking out the door, started barking like he didn’t recognize me. Or maybe it was just his way of telling me he didn’t approve of the ensemble 😛

Shirt: Forever 21 (thrifted via Buffalo Exchange)
Jeans: Old Navy, Shoes: Payless, Necklace: self-made


The Actor

It’s another week here in Style Imitating Art, and the inspiration is The Actor by Picasso. This is the best I could do within the confines of my 30×30 picks. Sorry if my outfits and pictures haven’t been the most interesting lately, but honestly it’s so miserably hot (the photos came out so muggy from the humidity that I had to run them through Photoshop and make the blur look on purpose.) Things should start picking up around… October. I promise 🙂 Oh, don’t forget to check out Animated Cardigan to see how the others interpreted the painting!

Tunic: Forever 21 (thrifted via Buffalo Exchange)
Pants: Karen Kane (thrifted), Flats & Bracelet: thrifted


Unironic

I don’t know why, but I feel like such a hipster in this outfit. Perhaps it’s the combination of ballet flats, skinny jeans (or jeggings. Ugh, just typing that word makes me twitch. These have pockets! And a zipper! I refuse to call them anything but skinny jeans!) and the owl pin. I was told that a hipster girl’s outfit is not complete without an owl somewhere (wouldn’t it be cool if it were an actual owl though? You’d have hipsters going around looking like Harry Potter.) All I’m missing is a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and a canvas tote with something ironic printed on it.

Tunic: thrifted via Buffalo Exchange, Jeans: Forever21
Belt: borrowed from my Jason Wu for Target dress, Flats: thrifted & DIY by me
Owl pin: vintage via Black Sheep Bazaar