Mar 25, 2011

Fashion Friday: Wearing My Heart On My Sleeve

Today's Fashion Friday post is going to be a little different.  The Dude will be leaving later today and we are breaking up.  I am heart broken and already beginning to feel lost and empty, and the last thing I can focus on is fashion today.  I wouldn't say this any other day, but of course it just feels slightly too superficial this week.  And yet, I'm sure I will return to it next week, as I look for signposts of normalcy to anchor myself.

Until then, my fashion statement for today: a little old fashioned heart-on-my-sleeve. There's just one major part of our little romance that I haven't shared here yet, and now seems like the perfect time.


Things with The Dude were going really well.  After starting out slow, sure that neither of us was interested in anything serious, The Dude asked if we could be exclusive.  We hit a little bump in the road after that, but once we worked through it, we were stronger than ever.  But we still hadn't exchanged those three little words.  Until one weekend in November ... 

I've mentioned before that The Dude travels a lot for work.  He's usually gone about a week, doing advance work, with an event on the sixth or seventh day of the trip.  We had talked in the past about me maybe traveling to spend a weekend with him on one of his trips, but the logistics hadn't yet made that possible in the few months we had been dating, either because the weekend would fall at an inopportune part of the trip and make spending time together difficult, or because he was too far away to make it too damn expensive for me to travel to meet him!  

But in November, The Dude was slated to travel to Pinehurst, North Carolina - a short 5 hour drive (if you drive like I do!) from DC.  I had been working hard, without a vacation in quite some time, so a long weekend away (in a nice hotel, for free ...) seemed like a great idea to me. Plus, I love a nice long drive, so I was looking forward to flying along with the windows down and some country music on the radio.  (Don't hate.  What's better for a long drive than some good ole twang?)  By the time that Friday rolled around, The Dude had been gone most of the week and I was ready to see him!  I hit the road and began the drive to Pinehurst.  

It was probably about 3 hours into the trip, as my ass started to fall asleep and the novelty of a long drive wore off, that I asked myself why I was willing to drive 5 hours each way to spend a weekend with this man, who would have been home again by Monday.  While we had started getting more serious and there were times when I had nearly blurted out a hasty "I love you" in recent weeks, it wasn't until I pictured myself in that car headed to Pinehurst that I realized I truly loved this guy.  

I knew immediately that I would be the one who needed to say it first, though.  Our little bump in the road had set up that dynamic, as The Dude backed off a little to give me time to figure out my trust issues.  I had never before been the one to say it first.  

I tried to work up the nerve all Friday night and all day Saturday.  I was distracted and anxious and constantly metering our conversation as I tried to find the perfect gap to slip it in.  When he prepared to leave me for a couple of hours for the event, I completely clammed up.  Shortly after he walked out of the room, I took the coward's way out and sent him the following text:  "I've been trying to work up the nerve to tell you this all weekend, but I'm a huge wimp.  So I'm doing it this way instead.  I love you."

And then I sat in his hotel room, holding my breath.

I don't know how much time passed, but I soon heard him at the door.  I stood up to meet him as he walked in, and he said to me:  "I just wanted to come back for another hug," and then wrapped his arms around me.  I was definitely still holding my breath and my mind was running through a million paranoid questions.  Did he not get my text?  Is this just his way of letting me down softly?  WTF IS GOING ON?

And then he whispered in my ear, "I love you."  

I distinctly remember exhaling.  Loudly.  And then I said, "I love you too."  He squeezed me tightly and then pulled back to look at me and said, "Made you sweat it for a minute there, didn't I?"

And that is, in a (fairly large) nutshell, us.  Of course, I still tease him that, because he said "I love you" and not "I love you, too," he technically said it first.  I'm super tricky.


I mentioned before, when telling the story of The Dude giving me his tags, that I had eventually given him something that was special to me, as well.  I screwed up pretty big one time, a story I'll save for another time, and I needed to show him I was sorry in the same way he did for me.  For a very long time, I'd been carrying around a small pewter frog with a little crown in my purse, something I got on a trip with my mother.  It was a symbol of hope for a hopeless romantic like myself.  So I gave The Dude my little frog, obviously telling him that he was my frog prince.  He started carrying it with him in his work bag.  And a couple of months ago, he lost it.

And so, today we will spend our last morning together watching the sunrise at the Iwo Jima Memorial, one of our favorite places in DC.  After I have him blow out the candle on his german chocolate cupcake - his birthday is in 2 weeks - and urge him to make a wish, I'll hand him a little red box.  On the outside it will say, "you're my prince", and inside will be a brand-new sterling silver frog with a little gold crown.

Like I'd really send him off without a reminder of what he means to me?  Not likely.  Still love that guy, like whoa.


Mar 18, 2011

Fashion Friday: Disturbing Fashion News

Over the last week, I've read two different fashion-related "news" articles that have scared me a bit.  I feel it is only responsible of me to bring them to your attention, in an effort to fight back, in one case, and dispel nasty rumors, in the other.  

First, A Single Girl DC alerted me to a CNN story, claiming that "fanny packs are making a comeback."  The video is here, but you don't even need to watch it to know that it's just bullshit.  However, you should watch it anyway, because the part that irks me the most is that they interview a girl in Dupont Circle, strutting around in her $3 leather fanny pack, acting like she's on the cutting edge of fashion.  I mean, for the love of Manolo, DC doesn't need any extra bad fashion press. 

According to the story, since bedazzled and insanely expensive fanny packs have been appearing on the runway (see a slideshow and WSJ article on the same topic here), some chick in Dupont suddenly looked fashionable in the eyes of CNN.  Right, because everything that you see on the runway is totally transferable to the real world.  

I'll be honest - one or two of the little whiskey-colored leather contraptions that look like belts with a little flap attached (I will not call it a fanny pack) are actually sorta cute, albeit from a 1992 runway.  But I'm seriously afraid of the slippery slope factor here.  Please, good people of DC, don't let the crazy woman in the video warp your brains.  I will absolutely lose my mind if I start seeing fanny packs everywhere.  The tourists are bad enough.

Second, I saw a blurb for this article yesterday, claiming that the story was about the average number of shoes a woman owns and putting that number at 17.  You can imagine that my mouth must have dropped open when first reading that blurb.  I mean, that number seems insanely low.  But then I actually clicked on the link and found that the article was actually about the average number of heels a woman owns - 17.  (Lesson learned: never trust a fashion article blurb from The Kane Show.)  That I find more believable.  And actually, given that I wear flats or wedges more often than heels on most days (I'm lazy ... and old) that might be a little on the high side, from my perspective. Granted, my closet is stuffed full of shoes that I don't wear often enough, but I'm not sure those count, if I rarely wear them. How about you ladies?  How many pairs of heels do you own and regularly wear?


Mar 17, 2011

The Importance of Being Gamma

I started this blog about seven months ago, simply because I wanted a place to put all the crap that runs through my head on a daily basis.  For the most part, I really thought I was just giving myself an online diary and an outlet for the writing that I miss so much in my everyday life.  I never, ever expected some of the extras that have come along with blogging, which in many ways have become even more valuable to me than the blog itself.  

For starters, blogging has opened my eyes to the world of Twitter.  I'll be honest, I'm somewhat tech-savvy when I need to be, but for the longest time, Twitter had simply baffled me.  I couldn't easily follow the conversations.  But because I wanted to find a way to connect with other bloggers out there, and I knew all the cool bloggers were using Twitter, I found my way through it (and before you write me off as a total idiot, it wasn't at all as hard as I thought it would be, from the outside looking in).  And I'm so glad I did!  Approximately zero of my in-real-life friends were using Twitter when I first started, which meant that I was diving in to connect with total strangers.  Turns out, this is easier in DC than any other city, as we're apparently the most Twitter-friendly city around!  And I believe this to be absolute truth.  As I've learned, the DC Twitter community is fairly small and tight-knit.  Everyone knows everyone, and everyone is so friendly!  It's been fun, to say the least.  (And don't forget to follow me, either!  I'm SassyMarmalade there, too.)

Without a doubt, however, I can say that the best part of blogging for me has been meeting other lady bloggers.  I've been lucky enough to meet and start friendships with a few fabulous women:  Mary El, A Single Girl DC, Katie and What Jane Wore.  (And while I haven't actually met the fabulous lady behind A Flying Stiletto, I know enough from our email exchanges that she's in the same class.)  Over a recent dinner at The Dirty Martini - the newly revamped space that once housed 1223 - with Mary El and A Single Girl DC, we got to talking about this same topic.  

Mary El told us about a recent article she read (which she also blogged about) basically discussing the concept of Mean Girls versus Gamma Girls and whether we ever grow out of those personalities we develop in middle school and high school.  To pull from Mary El's summary,  “Alphas,” or Mean Girls – are those "girls who 'selectively [pass] along information' and are 'driven by external social hierarchies or other indicators of status or popularity'" while Gamma Girls are "women who 'share and exchange information, ideas, opinions, contacts and recommendations' and are 'guided by [their] internal beliefs, passions and priorities.'"  

While the article suggests that Mean Girls grow up and become Gamma Girls, it didn't take long for us to share stories and determine that we each encounter Mean Girls in our grown-up lives on a regular basis.  And while we bonded over these similar experiences, we also realized something else:  WE are Gamma Girls and that's why we are drawn to each other and have become friends so easily.  

A little later that evening, while laughing and sharing more stories, talking about A Single Girl's new handbag waiting for her at home and Mary El's recent date-gone-wrong, the manager came up to chat with us.  When he told us that they will soon be opening their patio, which will be the largest outdoor bar in DC, we came to an easy decision:  what better place to host a joint happy hour, just as the warm weather (finally) arrives in DC?! The manager introduced us to the owner, who then introduced us to their "mixologist" once we mentioned the possibility of a signature drink (A Single Girl hosts a monthly happy hour and has a specialty cocktail - The Singletini - named for her).  They were excited!  And while we might not know what will be in that drink just yet, we already know what it will be called:  "The Gamma" of course!  Can't wait to provide y'all with more details once we work them out.  

And in the meantime, I'll be honest and say that times are a little tough in my neck of the woods these days.  The Dude leaves next Friday, and while I've sat down a few times to try and pour out my emotions through my keyboard, I'm just not there yet.  I can't tell whether I'll crawl into a hole and hide for awhile or spew my sadness all over the interwebs.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see.  Until then, there's no one better to lean on than a true Gamma Girl.  And let me tell you, these girls are the real deal and I'm lucky to have met them.


Mar 11, 2011

Fashion Friday: The Detachable Belt

The last few Fridays, I've been trying to focus on some positive fashion stuff.  But I'll be honest, sometimes a girl just needs to snark.  And Sunday is my birthday, so I kinda feel like I'm entitled to be as snarky as I like, today.  I'm getting to be old, after all.  I've earned it.  

The weather is a little confusing and transitional lately, I get that.  It's not quite winter, but not yet spring, either.  Most mornings, it's cold enough to see your breath, but knowing that it will warm up later in the day, you don't necessarily want to drag along the wool coat.  (I still do, though, some mornings.)  At the same time, it's not quite time for our brightly colored spring trenches.  So many of us are reverting back to our fall coats.  And that is perfectly fine.  

Except for this - I've noticed we've got a bit of an epidemic on our hands.  Much like the sock-eating dryers we're all familiar with, closets in DC seem to have been having a fucking field day with every detachable belt on nearly every coat in this area.  I see women marching around all over the place with coats that should be belted, evidenced by sad, lonely, empty belt loops, and yet, are not.  

This is not ok, people.  

Wearing the coat without the belt is akin to leaving the house only partially dressed.  It just looks sloppy!  Knock it off, for the love of Pete!

If you have a coat that is supposed to have a belt, which you no longer have, these are your options:

1.  Find some sort of belt replacement.  Unless you are sewing-machine inclined, this is probably a bad choice for you. 
2.  Remove the belt loops.  This isn't tough - every woman should know how to use a seam ripper, and that's probably all you'll need.  You might need to make a few stitches to sew up any seams left slightly open after you take off the loop, but this is also easy.  I remove belt loops - or ties on tie-back dresses - all the time.  
3.  Donate that coat to Goodwill and get yourself a new coat.  If you're prone to losing the belt, consider using a few hidden stitches to tack it to the belt loops so you won't have this problem in the future.  

If, on the other hand, you know exactly where to find the belt for your coat and you're instead choosing to wear your coat belt-less, these are your options:

1.  Stop being a fucking moron and put the belt on the coat.
2.  Stop buying belted coats if you don't like wearing the belt.  
3.  End it now and put us all out of our misery.  (I'm kidding, I'm kidding!) 

Seriously, why would someone do this?  You just decide that you are so over the belt, and think it looks ok to remove it and wear the coat like that instead?  NO.  Sloppy!

There are many ways to wear your belted coat, if you want to experiment.  If you don't like the formal belting, you can tie the ends together behind your back.  Or you can knot the end of each side so that they will hang neatly at your side when wearing the coat unbuttoned.  If you're buttoning the coat, you really just need to tie it.  Anything else looks ... wait for it ... sloppy.  If this isn't your thing, why the hell did you buy a coat with a belt?  

Seriously?  It's like people need a license to get dressed.  Sigh.


Mar 9, 2011


Even after declaring that I was going all-in on our relationship, and promising to let go of my relationship baggage and give The Dude my trust, everything didn't instantly return to holding hands under the light of the moon and staring into each others' eyes.  We were in a relationship.  It requires work and it's serious.  That's a sobering realization, coming out of your first big, near-deal-breaker fight.  I was longing for the carefree days of romance that we had built upon at the beginning.  

The Dude seemed to know that I needed that.  He told me one day soon after the fight that he had a gift for me, which he would bring over that evening.  I had no idea what it would be, but I suppose I was expecting flowers or maybe a well-played pint of Ben & Jerry's.  (Any girl who says that won't do the trick at the right time of the month is simply a liar.)  

When The Dude came over later that night, he asked me right away if I wanted my present. Um, YES.  Give it to me before I tackle you for it!  He asked me to close my eyes while he went to get it from his bag.  I heard a little bit of a clinking sound and then The Dude walking towards me.  Then he asked me to hold out my hand, keeping my eyes closed ... and he put something cold and metallic in my hands.  

When he said that I could open my eyes, I looked down in my palm and felt my eyes begin to well up.  I looked up at The Dude, waiting to hear what he had to say.  You see, my boyfriend is in the Army, and he had pressed his dog tags into my open palm.  

I know it sounds a little like high school and asking a girl to wear your school ring (which is so NOT as sexy as dog tags.  Have we all seen Top Gun?!?  Playing volleyball with dog tags sticking to their hot, sweaty bodies?? Oh, heck, we might as well watch the video clip, for a refresher):

Ok, we all on the same page now?  I watched it a couple times, to be safe.  Needed a cold shower after.  Whew!

It wasn't lame.  It was sweet.  As he told me, he'd had those tags since boot camp and they had traveled around the world with him.  He'd even been forced to scrape wax from the floor of some important guy's base house with those things.  To The Dude, they were one of his most important and treasured personal possessions, and he wanted me to have them. It was his way of saying, "I'm yours."  

It makes me giddy even now to think about the day he gave me those tags.  And I smile whenever I get in bed at night and they clink against my wrought-iron bedpost, where they hang.  When he traveled to Baghdad with Biden and I worried about him every second, I slept with those tags around my neck.  And I honestly feel a little bit of relief knowing that even after he leaves, I'll still have those tags hanging there every night, reminding me of what we mean to one another.  

And if you know me well enough by now, you know that I had to return the favor, and give The Dude something in return.  What did I give him?  Well, that's a story that hasn't quite finished playing out just yet ... 


Mar 7, 2011

Part Two: I'm Yours

I started telling this story with Part One, where I explained my mini-theory on relationships and getting through the "middle stages" ... and mentioned that a few weeks after declaring he'd like us to be exclusive, The Dude was feeling a little confident.

Nothing too tragic happened. But it all came out one night, when The Dude's phone rang while he was in the shower at my place. When I glanced at the screen, I saw a woman's name -- someone who was definitely not his mother or sister or anyone else I had heard about before. But I didn't flip out. I went in to the bathroom, sat down on the chat seat (ahem, the closed toilet) and said, "Hey, your phone was just ringing. It was Jessica. Who's that?" He immediately became defensive, accusing me of snooping through his personal business. And I immediately knew, therefore, that it wasn't a purely innocent phone call. Nothing says guilty like an exaggerated defense.

I'm proud to say that I didn't take advantage of his indisposed state to run back out in the living room and scroll through his call logs or text messages. Sure, I kinda wanted to. But I was trying to calm my crazy. When he got out of the shower, we talked about it. He was still defensive and stubborn, but what he eventually told me was this: She was just someone he'd been talking to, someone he had met before we started dating. He told me that she had reached out to him again recently, and he was flattered by the attention.

My initial response was to call bullshit. I didn't think that it could be all that innocent if she was calling him, as opposed to a text or email. Plus, sometimes you just have a gut feeling about things. Call it women's intuition, if you will, but I think you always have to listen when you feel something's just not right. I asked him to leave my place for the night so I could think about things. And he did. But about 15 minutes after he left, he called me. He was nearly in tears, telling me that he felt sick to his stomach and so nervous that he could barely concentrate or think straight, feeling he had screwed up enough to lose my trust or bring doubt into our relationship. Coming from my calm and collected - and tough on the exterior - boyfriend, it sounded sincere. I had never heard him be this emotional, and I knew from experience that he didn't get emotional easily.

I thought about things for a couple of days. I'd been hurt - greatly - in the past, by a cheating boyfriend. That's probably the biggest emotional baggage I carry - a tendency to be skeptical and pessimistic when faced with the smallest inkling of indiscretion. I wasn't really thinking that I should end things with The Dude over what, for all I knew, was just a phone call from some girl, but I was hesitant to put down my guard and let go of that skepticism.

When I saw The Dude next, I started to say all this to him. He interrupted me and told me that he understood, but that if I wanted to be in this relationship, I needed to just forget all that stuff in my past and trust him. We hadn't said the "L word" yet, but he said to me, "I think I know how we feel about each other ... and I'm not The Ex. You just have to trust me."

I told him he was right and that I wanted to be in this, to be able to trust someone completely and not have it backfire on me. I told him I would try my best. He seemed happy with that much at least, but I knew that I hadn't completely convinced myself yet.

I don't remember the logistics now of why I went back home that night, but as I was driving home in my car, the first song that came on the radio was "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. As I sang along to those words, I decided that it was a sign to me. To give in and trust The Dude, and let myself fall completely. I called him after the song ended, told him what I had just heard on the radio and said, "You're absolutely right and I'm in. I'm yours."

I know, it's totally cheesy. But it worked for us. It eventually became "our song," and looking back on the story, I realize that it's one of the more important moments in our relationship, for me. This isn't a big, dramatic story of cheating. But it was dramatic for me, as the moment that I decided to let go of that baggage I'd been carrying around and let my relationship with The Dude just be about him and me.

Since then, this has been my motto for life: I'd rather look back when I'm 90 and say, "Yeah, I got hurt a little, but I loved a lot," rather than look back and think, "Whew, sure glad I played it safe." Playing it safe is boring.

And while I think in the right circumstances, women can and sometimes should forgive men for lots of things, including indiscretions ... I'm happy to report that The Dude has never cheated on me or ever given me another reason to get that sinking feeling in my gut. He's a keeper, for sure.


Mar 4, 2011

Fashion Friday Supplement: My New Yellow Friend

Just a quick update, to post a pic of THE yellow bag, by request.  I should take some more detailed pics from different angles, but this one is quick and dirty.  Isn't she purty?

Hello, lover.

Once more, for good measure:  Happy Friday!


Fashion Friday: Overcoming My OCD About Mixing Metals

The continuation of Part One will be posted over the weekend.  It's written and everything, I just wanted to get The Dude's take before posting it. Thanks for sticking with me, y'all!

So, I'm a lawyer.  It comes with the territory that I'm a bit OCD.  I'm pretty sure I will bring nuclear holocaust upon the world if the pillows on my bed aren't in just the right spot every time I make the bed.  I'm a teeny bit Type A, but I own it.  

One of my biggest issues is about making sure whatever metals I'm wearing are matched.  I don't just mean making sure to wear gold earrings with a gold necklace.  I mean wearing gold jewelry when wearing a blazer with gold buttons, obviously.  But also, I won't wear shoes with gold hardware if wearing silver jewelry.  And it used to be, I wouldn't carry a handbag with silver hardware if wearing gold jewelry.  For the most part, the only one of those rules I've relaxed is with regards to the hardware on my handbag.  I still refuse to wear my gold-adorned Tory's when I'm wearing silver jewelry.  It just feels wrong.  I will mix gold and bronze or copper, but that's about it when it comes to accessories that are on my self at all times.  

I gave in on the handbag thing mostly because I started paying attention to women around me.  Hardly anyone bothers with such an intricate rule.  And you know what?  I never notice when someone else is mixing in that way.  I don't look at a girl with big, dangly, silver earrings and chalk her up as a fashion failure if I see that her bag has gold hardware.  For the most part, I don't even think to check.  The only time it seemed to bother me was when I was doing it myself.  So I figured I just had to get over it.  

Plus, it is a lot of freaking work to change your bag every morning once you decide on your accessories.  And even though I wear silver 90% of the time, I think leather - in general- just looks better with gold hardware.*  See the endless torture I was putting myself through?  

So I'm done with that.  But I doubt I'll ever go any further to correct my OCD.  Or maybe I'm totally normal?  What do you all do, as far as mixing metals?  

Happy Friday!

* Ok, I realize that I should be saying goldtone this whole time, but it sounds lame so I'm sticking with "gold".