Two months ago I went with BFF Natasha to see ‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk’ exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. The genius and talent made me shiver; it almost made me sick to the stomach. I swear my heart beat faster than when I saw Matt Bomer/Neal Caffrey’s abs in the first season of White Collar. Natasha and I could not help caressing with the tips of our fingers one of the dresses and got (rightfully) scolded by the security guard who then followed us during our entire visit. True schoolgirls in a candy shop or at a boys band’s concert
I have been meaning to share this experience with my readers who cannot go to see the exhibit themselves so we can all sigh together in awe and pleasure. I’ll shut up now and let you enjoy. Apologies for some of the lousy shots and my inability to short list among these wonderful works of art!
Very different post for this Friday, folks! I have been ‘dialoguing’ with the hilarious Jhanis of Fascinations of a Vanilla Housewife for a while now.
She lives in the Philippines; I live in New York. Similar stuff crack us up so when she asked me to take part in an Ask Away Friday, I said: ‘Yeah, let’s do it, girl!
She asked me questions, I asked her questions, and now we link up. A little like Reddit ANA (Ask Me Anything). I did have a fantasy of appearing on the David Letterman Show (either as a guest or as Letterman himself) so this post might be the closest thing to a Letterman interview that I will ever get, so yeah!!! We also decided to go for a ‘quote me something’ theme to support our answers. You can read Jhanis’ answers to my questions here.
I loved doing this with her because not only I got to know her more but I saw how supportive bloggers can be to each other! She basically wrote the ‘grab my button code’ (still makes me laugh, sorry…) for me. Thank you Jhanis, you are a rock star!
My answers to her questions are below.
1. You have a very very interesting “About Me” page, now if you were to choose a song that would best describe you as a person, what would it be and why?
Hand in my pocket by Alanis Morrisette because every single sentence resonates with me. OK, except the one about ‘playing the piano‘ because not in a zillion years, I could play an instrument. I am tone deaf and my brain is just not wired for partition reading. I get dizzy just looking at one. Anyway, I remember when the song was first released I was 20 and I was like: ‘I want to be that girl in the song‘ and I hope that I have become her. I wished I was a wealthier version of her though..sic.
‘I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five‘
2. And because I thought your question to me “Who would you Kiss, Shag, Kill, Marry (in an alternative reality)?” is really interesting, I’m gonna ask you the same question BUT let’s pretend that you are a man. 😉
Kiss Rachel Bilson or Chloe Sevigny
Shag Gwen Stefani
Kill? I am so regretting asking you this now because I am not of the murderous type (I think). However, if anyone raped one of my children I would get into a blind rage and go out for a kill…while hoping someone sane slaps me hard to get some sense into me.
Marry Matt Bomer from White Collar. Whether I am a man or a woman, this does not change my answer. He is perfection.
‘What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting for!?
Take a chance you stupid whore
Take a chance you stupid whore
Like an echo pedal, you’re repeating yourself
You know it all by heart
Why are you standing in one place?
Born to blossom, bloom to perish’
What you waiting For, Gwen Stefani
3. Where in the world have you been? (map your footprints across the globe).
So many countries missing …Sic
4. I know how strongly you support gay rights. What developed this passion?
Apologies for the long answer but when I start on this issue I cannot shut up. I think my journey as a gay rights advocate started way before I even heard the word ‘gay’. It is somehow closely tied to my stance on women’s rights. As a kid, I would feel absolutely enraged when some of my boyfriends were being bullied for showing off ‘feminine’ traits or tastes. I was like: ‘why is it a problem to act like a girl? Why is it weak or dirty to be like a girl?’
All my life I had Alpha type males whom I considered as some of my oldest and closest friends. I thought I knew everything about them until they came out as gay. In 2000, I had my first come out confession.A very close friend took me aside during a party and said with tears in his eyes: ‘I have to tell you something, I am gay’. I asked: ‘What does it mean?’ He replied in shock: Well…I like men’ And I remember vividly saying:’ OK. And?’ Because I actually had no idea back then what ‘liking men’ would imply in the way you live your life, the way you were treated in public and in private. I just thought:’what’s the big deal with this? Why the fuck is he crying about it?’
Gradually I started to understand a little more about the issues and then, there was a tipping point. I was walking on the street in New York with Thor on a very fun Halloween night. He got harassed by a group of men calling him ‘faggot, pussy’ and other anti-gay slur. And I snapped. BIG time. I almost started a brawl, I was violent, girl. Thank god, DH and a girlfriend pulled me out but that’s when I realized I could not be easy going about gay rights because some of the world around me surely was not. Since that night, I got a little more vocal.
Judge Garrett: In this courtroom, Mr.Miller, justice is blind to matters of race, creed, color, religion, and sexual orientation.
Joe Miller: With all due respect, your honor, we don’t live in this courtroom, do we?
5. To say that I love your fashion sense is an understatement and I would love to see 3 of your most favorite look.
Thanks for the compliment! The aesthetics of my style can be borderline schizophrenic, to be honest. However, for an outfit to feel right, it needs to make me feel fierce, current, positive and be as comfortable as possible. I have never been into the romantic, ingenue, ethereal aesthetics which, considering my age now and the 3 kids in tow, is probably lucky. Anyway, here are my top 3 looks.
6. One thing that you and your husband would like to do within the next 5 years.
Visit Japan. Obsessed with it. My obsession started with mangas when I was a child, then the authors (Mishima, Murakami), the food, the style, the weirdness…We MUST go there!
The other thing would be learn how to dance the Tango. Last time we tried, we really, really sucked at it so we need our bruised egos to mend first before getting back on the horse.
‘I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while’.
Kafka on the Shore, HARUKI MURAKAMI
7. What do you love about New York and what don’t you love about New York?
Before I give you my list of of love/don’t love, I need to say that coming to live here was a dream come true. I thought I knew everything about this city from the movies, TV shows and to some extent when I first arrived, everything seemed very familiar. After 4 years, I now realize that what I love the most about it is that it keeps surprising me. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me alive.
What I don’t love about New York:
– if there is no tip, customer service is non-existent. For example, public transportation service is particularly bad. I mean, I get that you don’t have to be spoon fed like a baby when taking the subway (like you are in London for example, missing the Tube staff!!!) but trying to slash passengers on purpose by closing the train doors without warning is simply cruel.
– the way people curse or talk on their cell phones super, super loud. I am all for self-expression but I really don’t need to know about strangers ‘ sex life especially when it is not very educative and mainly mysoginistic.
– the amount of plastic surgery in the +50 female population of Upper East Side. On a scary day, you walk around and you start wondering if you have seen the same woman again and again but in different fur coats.
What I love about New York:
– you strike conversations with strangers in restaurants, in the subway, on the street that often change your views of the world or your own prejudice. I feel very privileged to get my assumptions challenged on a daily basis.
– most side streets are little peace havens away from the madness of main avenues. New York can be more quiet than you think. I like that this quietness is unexpected. You run, you yell and suddenly you turn a corner and you see cherry blossom trees and you can no longer hear anything. You look around wondering if you have stepped onto a movie set seconds after the director said ‘1,2, 3…Action’. And sometimes you actually have!
– the food: so much choice, so good. The number of restaurants by square mile is absolutely unbelievable. A swanky restaurant serving Lao food even recently opened in TriBeCA with lots of success. When I told my mom how much they charged for a tiny bowl of Tom Khem (Lao caramelized pork stew), she almost packed her suitcase to move here and open a Lao diner.
– the amount of rooftop bars where you feel like floating above the urban jungle while sipping a martini. They are breathtaking.
Here’s one of my favorite spots the Press Lounge
– New York is way more connected to nature than people think: Hudson river esplanades, all the parks, the Highline, etc. but also easy access to sandy beaches and mountains for hiking and skiing. So it is an endless playground for the urban addicts like me and the nature freaks like DH.
– New York is like a music box; full of eclectic rhythms, beats, melodies. It’s never boring and I do believe everyone can write their own music here, even tone deaf people like me 🙂
Banksy, the elusive street artist chose the streets of New York for his one-month ‘artists residency’ and said:
“New York calls to graffiti writers like a dirty old lighthouse. We all want to prove ourselves here,”. “I chose it for the high foot traffic and the amount of hiding places. Maybe I should be somewhere more relevant, like Beijing or Moscow, but the pizza isn’t as good.”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/banksy-interview-with-village-voice-2013-10#ixzz2hLTOC2a8
8. What are your dreams for your children?
It is going to sound completely sappy but here’s the list:
– be happy. And I think it is a very hard thing to achieve. Someone dear to my heart once said to me: ‘I am not equipped for happiness’. It was heartbreaking.
– love themselves. Self-hatred is a very dangerous curse.
– and I would absolutely love the 3 of them to be really tight and supportive of each other. I would love them to have a ‘I cannot go by a week without talking to my brother and sister’ relationship. I don’t think we can really engineer this as parents but I hope that’s what is going to happen.
‘Keep it together in the family
They’re a reminder of your history
Brothers and sisters they hold the key
To your heart and your soul
Don’t forget that your family is gold’
Keep it together, Madonna
9. Tell me about a time when you really lost your cool, what did you do and what happened.
It’s weird because growing up I was losing my cool for absolutely everything and anything. I had a permanent frown on my face, I swear. Then as a young adult, I worked hard to let go of my anger. Plus I lived 11 years in London, England and it really turned me into an ‘ice cool’ chick. British composure is not a legend, it’s real, people. And now, the combination of New York’s abrasive and gutsy personality and me being a stay at home mom with 3 kids has woken up the volcano!!! The beast is back. I talked about it in a post about how I went mental during my vacation. More recently, the kids turned into tween brats and started to sulk refusing to clean up their toys. I don’t know if it was G pretending not to hear my request, or P dragging her feet and pushing her toys with her toes very slowly to pretend she was cleaning or L doing the exact opposite of my request by emptying the toy chest…but I exploded. I started to throw some of their toys in the trash can. It felt really really good 🙂
10. This one is my favorite question each week. What’s in your bag? (Take a photo of your bag contents and no cleaning!) 😊
OK, that’s embarrassing but here it goes:
– The gadgets: Macbook Air, iPhone and headphones
– The glasses: reading glasses and sunnies
– 3 pens (?)
– 2 notepads: one for my business coach freelance job, and one for other ventures, ideas for start-ups, rambling etc. I usually have a 3rd for drawings or creative ideas. Talk about a mad head.
– a A3/A2 white paper sheet in case my ideas’ mapping does not fit on the standard notepad page. Very mad head, I am telling you…
– a pair of scissors. I am not sure why they are still in the bag but they are usually for cutting stuff from magazines. I guess, always useful for self-defense too 🙂
– The medication cabinet: anti hay fever tablets, anti-bacterial gel and paper tissues. I recently discovered that I I developed extremely uncomfortable skin rashes because of the pollen and the sun. I thought I was getting allergic to my kids because it always happened when I was taking them out all day…
– The delusion: receipts from restaurants or cafes because one day I will have a proper money management system in place. I will. And one day I will go to Shrine, a must go to music venue in Harlem. That is why I have been carrying their business card for like probably a year now.
– The beauty set: a hand mirror and a red lipstick 🙂
Anything that surprised you in this Q&A? Have a great week end, everyone!
‘ My body may be a work-in-progress, but there is nothing wrong with my soul.’
Bree Osbourne (Felicity Huffman), Transamerica
Last week, DH sent me an email about a vigil in Harlem for Islan Nettles. I had no idea about who this hot African American woman was. I searched about her death and my heart stopped for like a second. A couple of weeks ago, 20 blocks away from my home, she and her friends were the victims of homophobic insults. A ‘scuffle’ apparently ensued and she was beaten bad, real bad. On Thursday 22 August, she was declared brain dead. She died because she was a beautiful and happy woman who once was a little boy. A mother had to bury her daughter because some people hated that Islan was proud to be a woman. 20 blocks away from my home she, with her high cheekbones, endless eyelashes and plump lips, by just being herself caused a hateful man to repeatedly hit her until she could not get up anymore…
I don’t know anyone who is transitioning or has transitioned to another gender. And if I am really honest with myself, not so long ago I was still feeling uncomfortable in the presence of transgender people. I would freeze for tenth of a second when someone with manly hands would firmly hold some train doors for me but all I could focus on was the red polish of their nails. I remember feeling pity looking at an old 65 year old pre op woman wearing a slutty skirt and riding her bike down Northcote road in London some years ago because while her long red hair was blowing in the wind, her male junk was crushed against the bicycle seat. I think what unsettled me was their absolute confidence about being who they were regardless of snide comments or bemused looks. Understandably it was, I am sure, the result of a very long and painful search and struggle. I more recently realized that I was in fact half admirative and half intimidated by such boldness and ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude. In the end, you could say that transgender women are the type of women I always wanted to be: unapologetic.
Islan’s death shook me deeply. It is a hate crime that happened in a place I have so proudly called home. Her death may seem like a tragic but isolated incident for New York—one of the birthplaces of the modern LGBT-rights movement. But ‘bias crimes’ have nearly doubled since this time last year here in New York City and people of color have been particularly affected…And this creeps the hell out of me.
I am not sure when transgender community will be finally accepted and respected in our society but a conversation I had with my 2 year old daughter over Labor day week end taught me something: we are never too young to learn respect and acceptance. She was teasing my (very woman like) girlfriend in a mean way by telling her: ‘ You are not a girl!’
My friend replied: ‘Yes, I am.’
P insisted: ‘No, you are not.’ (Note: these days, P thinks the worst insult she can give someone is to tell them they are boys…)
So the two of them went back and forth: ‘Yes, I am a girl’, ‘No, you’re not’ etc. I would normally find this whole banter cute but I started to get really annoyed and snapped: ‘It does not matter what you say, think or see, Miss P. If someone tells you they are a girl, or a boy as a matter of fact, you have to respect this and accept what they say, and move on, full stop.‘ She looked at me totally confused but I did not care because I knew I had found my own simple way to talk about tolerance and I was going to repeat this again and again until my kids get it. Islan and other transgender women deserved this… at the very least.