The Quaint Questionnaire.

Inspired by a great idea from Natalie of Natalie’s Lovely Blog (follow her, won’t you?) and her friend McKenna Ryan , my pal and fellow blogger Toia B. of Luv To B Natural (check her out!) and I decided to interview each other on current fashion loves and likes and can’t-live-withouts. Natalie and McKenna’s fun idea consisted of finding a blogging friend and exchanging the Quaint Questionnaire with them. Feel free to do the same, and be sure to tag Natalie and McKenna if you do!

Below are Toia’s awesome answers; head over to her blog to see my answers to the same questions.

Describe your perfect winter outfit.

Let’s see… a dark rinsed pair of jeans, cognac riding boots, a chambray button-down and a v-neck sweater. Layering for warmth with coordination for flyness!

Infinity or rectangle scarves?

While I own a gaggle of rectangular scarves, I LOVE a nice infinity/circle scarf. They just make sense!

Color you can wear all year round?

Teal! As of last year, it’s my new favorite color. I found myself wearing it during the winter right into summer when I often paired it with coral. Lovely combo!

What is your take on the Fall 2013 knee-high sock comeback?

I actually love it! I may be turning 34 next month but hey, I like what I like… and I like that look. Ya know, when you wear it with some boots and have a bit of it peeking out over the top? Yeah, so cute!

What is an accessory you can’t leave the house without?

Earrings. Even if I’m just making a trip to the supermarket or running a quick errand to the post office, I’ve gotta put on some hoops or something. Just gotta! I keep a gold pair and a silver pair right where I can grab them on my way out.

How do you relax during those cold wintry nights?

Recently, I’ve been winding down with a Cosby Show mini-marathon, a PB&J sandwich, a large mug of hot chocolate and my fuzzy socks.

Where have you been finding your fashionspiration as of late?

Hmmm… that’s a toughy. I’d like to think that my style is really my own but I do enjoy the fashion sense of style bloggers like Cyn of Addicted to Etsy, Folake of Style Pantry, Eboni of The Fashionista Next Door and Ashlei of Kinks are the New Pink.

Song you can’t get out of your head?

Royals by Lorde. Sure, it’s been around for a minute but that beat… those hooks…I just can’t get enough!

What is a trend you hope never ever ever goes out of style?

Jeans paired with a blazer. It’s so basic and easy to execute that I don’t think we’d have to worry about that. Definitely my go-to.

Ankle booties or knee high boots?

There are only certain kinds of ankle booties that I actually like and I only own one pair (that I can remember) so I’m gonna go with knee-high boots. You can wear ’em with jeans, pair ’em with a skirt or maxi dress to transition from summer to winter… love the versatility.

Describe your idea of a perfect winter day.

Curling up under a blanket or my favorite sweatshirt with some hot chocolate and a good, funny movie!

Hot chocolate or chai tea latte?

Gaaaah! Ya got me! I love them both equally… is that acceptable? :-/

What is a piece you wish you had in your closet right now?

The perfect black pencil skirt. I have yet to find one to fit just right!

Thanks, Toia! Love your responses; I’m also on a quest to find the perfect pencil skirt and can’t live without my earrings.

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Short Story Prompt – 12/16/13

Short Story Prompt: Write about a a person whose family member is suffering from amnesia and tries to get that person to remember them.

One year after the search parties had disassembled and the leads had run cold, she decided that it was time to restart her life. She moved back into their bedroom from the guest room; she opened windows and pulled up blinds; she began accepting requests for dinner with family and friends. It wasn’t that the grief was gone; she simply woke up one morning and decided to live with it rather than pretend it simply wasn’t there.

Naturally, when her best friend, Harriet Monroe, asked her to come along for a weekend business trip to New York City, she accepted. The sole hesitation she had, that of Harriet’s demand that Grace make full use of the former’s American Express card, was eventually silenced when her friend regarded her sternly and remarked that she deserved it. You do deserve this, a voice not unlike his, reverberated in the back of her mind.

*

After a Saturday filled with horse-drawn carriage rides, Central Park, and a plenty of food, Grace decided to call it a day. Had she remembered to turn left at 11th Avenue instead of making a right, she would have never walked by the Grotto Café and glanced inside, and she certainly wouldn’t have seen her presumed dead husband sitting at the counter that faced the window, sipping from a coffee mug. But she did make the wrong turn, and there he was.

With a deafening roar in her ears and her vision swimming, she stumbled toward the window and touched it.

He looked up.

She smiled and waved, tears springing to her eyes.

He looked behind him, then back at her, clearly puzzled.

She tapped at the glass repeatedly, as if to communicate, if she could speak in that moment, for him to come outside. The fact that the patrons inside the café peered at her in confusion remained unnoticed.

He hailed a waiter and spoke to the young man while gesturing toward her.

Moments later, the freckled-faced waiter stood next to her on the sidewalk. “Ma’am,” he said, “do you need some help? My customer thinks you might be upset.”

Grace glanced at the waiter, wondering why this boy was interrupting their moment. Somehow, amid the deafening roar and the violent shifting in her equilibrium, she found her voice. “Please leave me alone. I’m trying to tell my husband to come outside. In fact, tell him to come outside, please.”

“He’s your husband?”

“Yes, he is. He’s my husband. My God.” With that, Grace burst into tears.

Moments later, her husband joined the alarmed waiter on the sidewalk. Carefully, he touched her elbow. “Is there someone we can call? Someone that can help you?” he asked.

It was the voice she had listened to for the past twelve months. Days after he went missing, she would repeatedly call his cell phone and listen to his outgoing message, allowing the warm timbre of Kyle’s voice to drape over her. That voice had saved her during those harrowing days when taking her own life seemed to be the only option after months of searching for a man that couldn’t be found. Nevertheless, here he was, on a sidewalk in New York City, standing before her.

“Kyle,” she sobbed, before throwing her arms around him.

Behind her, the waiter followed the silent instructions of his customer and went back into the restaurant to call the police. He then patted her back gently, carefully.

“Kyle, hold me,” she said, looking up at him, tears cascading down her face. “Why won’t you hold me?”

“Ma’am…”

The word pierced through her tears, through her engorged, pulsating heart, and landed right in the center of her chest. Ma’am.

Grace stepped back abruptly. “Kyle, what’s wrong with you?” she demanded.

He regarded her sadly, pity etched across his demeanor. “Ma’am, I’m sorry. I don’t think I’m the person you’re looking for.”

“Stop that.”

“Stop what, ma’am?”

“Stop calling me that! I’m—” The words I’m your wife sat on the edge of her tongue, waiting to be uttered, to be screamed. Instead, she took a deep breath and attempted to steady herself, finally recognizing, amid the rush of senses, that something wasn’t quite right here. “Your—your name is Kyle Walsh, isn’t it?” she asked.

“No, ma’am, it’s Henry Baylor.”

Henry Baylor.

“Is this your first time in the city? It can be overwhelming, with all these people. And it can be very easy to confuse one person with someone else.”

Her husband, the only man she had ever loved and trusted, was speaking to her as if she was a child. “It’s me,” she muttered to the ground. “It’s me.”

“Don’t worry; someone will be here to help.”

“It’s me,” she repeated, louder this time. Some passerby turned and glanced in their direction, a feat in a city where nothing seemed to faze its residents or turn their heads. “It’s me. It’s me.”

“I’m really sorry. I don’t know who you are.”

With shaking hands, she dug into her handbag and pulled out her wallet. Opening it, she shoved it toward him and tapped at the photo behind the plastic cover.

He frowned and gazed at the photo. A bride and a groom stood on white sands, the waves of a nearly translucent blue ocean crashing behind them. The bride and groom grinned happily at the camera and held each other tightly. The bride, lovely in her long, white gown, resembled the woman that stood before him. Her dark hair was longer in the photo, but it was indeed her; the same big, brown eyes that now peered at him in bewilderment looked at the camera, albeit happier and beaming with joy. And the groom…

The groom had his face. The same sharp jaw, the same tiny mole underneath his left eye, the same dimpled cheeks.

He looked up at her, blinking rapidly. The strange buzz that he occasionally heard, like a fly let loose inside his head, started up again. After dozens of MRIs and brain scans, the doctors still couldn’t tell him where it came from, other than that he could have possibly suffered from a fall or blow to the head. It was louder this time, the strange buzz, pronounced. Did he and this woman truly know each other?

She came toward him again. “Your name is Kyle Matthew Walsh. I fell in love with you on our first date,” she said softly, her voice quivering. “You proposed to me on our third date. We got married on that beach in Antigua, five years ago. You’ve been—you went missing a year ago. If you can’t remember what you were doing a year ago, then something is wrong.”

This strange woman…with her big, brown eyes that seemed awfully familiar. And, no, he could barely recall events beyond the current year. He strained and pushed, but had resigned himself to being a simple man with no real memories.

Moments later, Grace took his hand into hers and steered them away from the café. She wasn’t sure where they were going; perhaps to find Harriet, to find a hospital; to fly back home. All she knew that was her husband didn’t let go of her hand.

Weekend Vignettes.

I went to NYC this weekend, on a Saturday and back on a Saturday, and visited the Met museum.

I met a man who wore humility like a coat. It was refreshing.

I froze in NYC and was reminded of my very strong feelings about the city.

I said my peace.

I think I’m getting sick.

I won’t go Negative Nancy on you.

Just know that NYC is the pits. (Oh, but NN strikes again…)

If anyone is wondering, I would very much like to eat, sleep, and breathe in a museum. You’ll find me under a Rembrandt.

How was your weekend? Any vignettes you’d like to share?

What ‘tude? Gratitude.

In line with an interesting conversation I had with a pair of lovely friends last night, I decided that every Friday is now Gratitude Friday. Why, exactly?

I tend to be a Negative Nancy. It’s really Negative Ninja Nancy, because when I’m being so-called positive, I’m quietly, methodically sneaking in complaints like nobody’s business. (I eat the same way.) So every Friday, I’ll list 10 things I’m grateful for. Simple gratitude.

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1. My faith.
2. My mother.
3. My sissy and younger bros.
4. My…oh, God, it hurts…my job.
5. My creativity.
6. My late father’s sense of humor, love of eclectic music, and sitcoms, all of which I inherited.
7. A roof over my head.
8. Amazing, amazing, amazing friends and extended family. They’re incredible, all of them.
9. Life.
10. My 4th grade librarian, who let an extremely shy girl hide in the library instead of going to recess. I discovered some of my most beloved books in that library.

Ten more next week!

Tell me what you’re grateful for, won’t you?

Fabu Fashion Thursday (aka Quick Bathroom Selfies)

Because I thought today was Thursday, I decided to use my brain freeze (seriously, I believed it was Friday with all my heart) to my blogging advantage. New feature: every Thursday, I’ll post pics of what I’m wearing. Viva brain freeze fashion! I do it for you, don’t you know?

Below are a few pics of my OOTD; details are further below:

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Dress is a cute sweater dress I found at Dress Barn. DB tends to sometimes skew to the more mature lady, but with diligence, you can find snazzy, age-appropriate garb.

Light gray sweater is from Ross. Speaking of diligence, it takes a lot of that to find neat things at Ross. But you can do it, if you try.

Red tights are from Wal-Mart. It’s my least favorite place in the world, Wally World, but those tights had me seeing red, in a good way.

Silver necklace from Target, I think.

And your standard black, I’ve-owned-them-for-so-long winter boots.

Fancy, huh? What are you wearing today?

she who has bloomed.

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I used to bristle when folks called me a late bloomer. (Those folks being my bestie, whom you’ll hear about often, and my mama, whom you’ll hear about often.) There was something condescending and juvenile about it, as if I hadn’t grown up yet.

The online definition I found for late bloomer is “a person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual.” I like that, don’t you? No juvenility or stunted growth to be found.

Nevertheless, my blooming was a bit different. It wasn’t that my talents and capabilities became visible to others at a later time. I can honestly say that the important people in my life have always been pretty communicative about things like writing and what I can do. Major cheerleader action, thankfully. But those talents and capabilities were never visible to me.

I didn’t buy it. I was waiting for the Carrie-like bucket of yuckness to fall when people gave me compliments. I thought my writing was sub-par, that my strengths weren’t strengths at all, another blip on the screen of life. Lack of self-esteem was certainly the culprit here, combined with a long-held belief that those cheerleaders had something sinister up their sleeves. (It’s usually the forcible harvesting of my kidneys. Don’t ask. I watch too much Law and Order.)

Things change, though.

Women who are not yet 30 and reading this, embrace what is coming. I bloomed at 30. Something happened that day. I woke up and began to fall in love with myself, my writing, my mind, my capabilities, my body. There’s always, always room for improvement. I accept that. But I blooooomed. And five years later, the process continues.

“You’re a late bloomer.” Yep, sure am.

Dignity.

Little one,
you won’t find dignity in
the App Store of your latest iPhone,
and it’s not discoverable in those awful videos with those sad girls who writhe around on the hoods of those expensive cars.

Dignity is in the quiet clench of your strong jaw when you are studying.
So study.
Dignity is in the lovely curve of your mother’s cheek.
So appreciate her.
Dignity is the way you stand up when he or anyone tries to make you feel less than you are.
So stand up.

Stop learning how to twerk,
and work:
For your goals, for your future, for your self-respect.

Dignity may belie the volcano beneath,
but it isn’t a lie.
It means you’re holding yourself up and high–
Fall apart in the cool corner of your bedroom if you want, but you’ll get up anyway because by now you’ve learned that it all passes.
All of it and everything.

Because dignity is everything.

Not him. He’s not everything.

You are.