What Sylvia Plath Taught Me

Dear Reader, Oh I just found this on Tumblr. tumblr_ne46ywdYLw1qz6f9yo1_500

Funny cause I literally posted 30 minutes ago about my favorite book of hers. But okay how lovely is she. “Keep a journal to record moments, sort out ideas and plan out your work and life.” Truer words have never been spoken.

XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

P.S. Comment your top five favorite books <3

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And They Were All Dissolving

Dear Reader,

I am currently re-reading one of my favorite books – The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I highlighted some of my favorite bits below from the first few chapters. (All are Esther’s quotes).Capture d’écran 2014-10-16 à 20.02.36

I just like this because it goes to show that pictures aren’t always honest depictions of reality. In fact, I’ve found that they rarely are.

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I don’t know if I can explain this fully, but how I interpreted it was that when we aren’t happy we (or at least I have noticed that I tend to do this) tend to focus on the little things that make us upset in an attempt to distract us from the big things that are the real problem. Capture d’écran 2014-10-16 à 10.59.07

I love this quote so so much. Mostly because it is exactly like what coming back to Caliornia from France has been like for me. Some of the people I left nine months ago seem different; I don’t know them like I used to. I wonder if they think the same things about me. I know I have noticed quite a few changes in myself. The « dirt », « sticky kisses », icy rain, dripping ash and whatever else settled on my skin in France has made me feel new and yeah, « pure » I guess. Capture d’écran 2014-10-16 à 10.55.33

Its funny because I have posters of New York City tacked to the walls of my room (its where I want to live) and she has the real thing out her window and it seems like a printed picture to her. It kind of scares me because I fear that someday I will look out my apartment window and it will seem flat to me too. I don’t think it will but still.

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I, like Esther, think baths are a magical thing and also the solution to most problems. Sick of doing math problems? Too lazy to make dinner? Confused about people? Take a bath.

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This was once me. I was in Paris alone and had missed my train (I wrote about that [here]) and had to catch one that left at midnight, and I remember watching the lights blur into the night and thinking about how small I was. Here’s what I wrote eight months ago about that feeling: « I was just a pair of legs sprawled on a midnight train taking me away from a golden city at a blurry rate » What a night. There is something so poetic and beautiful about the language in The Bell Jar that makes me think about the way people work.

Oh and I forgot to mention that I posted this today cause it’s Sylvia Plath’s birthday! Happy birthday Sylvia you inspire me endlessly <3 <3 <3

XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

P.S. Go read The Bell Jar if you haven’t already.

P.S.S. Comment your favorite quote.

Posted in All Posts, Rants | 9 Comments

R.I.P. Oscar de la Renta

Dear Reader,

I am a great admirer of Oscar de la Renta who passed away on Monday. I reviewed one of his shows on this blog (you can read that here if you like) and have always been an admirer of his designs’ unique silhouettes and elegant lines. I guess I’d just like to give him a quick tribute. He is, to me, a modern Yves Saint Laurent.

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I made a Polyvore of some of his dresses. I just love the whimsical nature of his designs, and I really really really want the third dress on the left. Really really.

Some of my favorite Oscar de la Renta quotes:

« I just want to make beautiful clothes. »

« Every season I am inspired by women. »

« The qualities I most admire in women are confidence and kindness.»

« I like light, color, luminosity. I like things full of color and vibrant. »

« Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable. Style is more about being yourself. »

R.I.P Oscar de la Renta

XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

Posted in All Posts, Fashion | 5 Comments

I Was A Lilac Sky

Dear Reader,

On Saturday I was bored and so I made more of these. I think its becoming an addiction. But oh what a lovely addiction it is.

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I took this in Paris

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and I took this in New York

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and I took this in California wishing I was either in Paris or in New York.

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I miss them so much.

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Always.

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Have I mentioned how much I miss France?

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It’s alright.

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(But I am trying)

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I always associate people with the color blue for some reason.

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I have this quote on the wall above my bed; isn’t it a nice idea?

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It’s getting so much better.

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You liked me cause I was blue.

XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

P.S. Comment your favorite one <3

Disclaimer: All background photos are mine but the layered images were all found on Tumblr and I take no credit. If one of the photos is yours and you want credit or for me to take it down please email me (natalieslovelyblog1@gmail.com).

Posted in All Posts | 42 Comments

We Looked Like Giants

Dear Reader,

Here’s an essay I wrote about my year in France for English. I read it aloud in class on Thursday. I don’t know if anyone understood it.

I spent 9 months in a city 356 kilometers west of Paris where the last metro creaks into the station at 3:04 am and where it rains more often than not. 273 days in a city in France where two rivers run through the graffitied part of town, where a famous cathedral kisses the sky three streets behind the opera house, where the clouds glow dark purple when they don’t smolder grey. I know a city named Rennes, and I called it home for 9 months. Anyone can research this little white city and find that it’s area spans 50.39 square kilometers or that 208,033 people wander it’s curled streets or that the Parliament building burned down in 1994. They might find that the art museum closes early on Wednesdays, that the Kennedy metro-line runs right under the government offices, or that the streetlamps flicker on at 4pm in December and at 9pm in May.

But these facts don’t define Rennes, not really. No guide book or folded map can explain the important things. Neither will tell you that the Line 5 bus turns the corner 2 minutes late on Tuesday mornings because the driver’s girlfriend comes along to babble on about unironed blouses and dinner parties or that the best place to go if you want to be alone is the dandelion field behind the park or that the post-officers only deliver mail on bikes or that the man selling clipped tulips on the corner of Guehenno and Alleé Sainte Marie asked me every morning if I had enough reasons to smile.

After May 28th, the day I flew back into New York City, the past year began to swirl into a blur of snagged tights, spinning night skies and broken umbrellas. Details faded from my memory, decayed at a rapid pace, and I feared that without them, I would stop caring about what it was like to be 17 in France as soon as I turned 18 in California. So I wrote. Back in California, I continued to fill the 300-page black notebook I had begun in France. I wrote to remember.

Words on paper appeared tangible; they made it easier for me to believe the things in my head existed. So I scribbled dates:  November 11 (“Natalie, walk me to the bus stop”), February 8 (Phoenix concert), May 29 (Cathedral Parkway, 110th Street). I jotted down names: Greg, the boy who played Hotel California for me on his guitar when I told him I missed home, Ruth, the girl who lived in the kaleidoscopic apartment downtown, Sophie, the girl who told me about all the times she stole chapstick from CVS. I scrawled times: 1:17 pm (“don’t say it”), 2:32 am (“I’m sorry”), 11:11 pm (I don’t want Olivia to die tonight). My writing in that black notebook was hardly like anything I’d written before. Curling handwriting in blotchy black ink traversed the unruled paper, tangled charts with names and dates coated the pages, and the occasional 7-page-rant varied my unorganized web of ideas. I scribbled comma splice after comma splice to remember soot-covered chimneys, to remember girls lounged under dripping oak trees with daisy chains tangled in their hair, to remember boys who flung elastic bodies through empty streets at 2:32 am.

I had always been okay at English. I turned in the Joyce, Twain and Orwell papers on time, and I (almost) always put commas before coordinating conjunctions. I wrote because I had to; someone had given me a prompt, a book and a due date. So what compelled me to fill that notebook’s empty pages? Stephen King once said, “A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.” Before I went to France, I had the “talent” King was referring to (or at least the ability to follow grammatical rules and back up a point with evidence and clarity), but I didn’t have the “scars,” triumphs, connections, experiences, realizations, heartbreaks or whatever else you’d like to call them. In France, I acquired these so-called “scars,” and I filled a black book in an attempt to remember the night Sydney and I sat on Greg’s skateboard, the familiarity of rain trickling down my window pane, the afternoon I had to explain to the drunk man on the bus that I was not, in fact, his ex-wife. Stuff like that.

I wrote about September 5th, the day I got my first “scar” catching my flight from Boston to Paris. I recalled waving goodbye to my tissue-dabbing parents from the security line and standing next to a girl named Kate whose clear, blue eyes resembled one of my California friend’s, the kind where if you look from the side you can see right through. A jumble of sweaty palms and hollow words, I distracted myself by worrying about taking my shoes off in security to reveal my polka-dot socks. Kate didn’t seem like the kind of girl to wear polka-dot socks. She was going on the challenges about packing because she owned so many pairs of boots. I overthought having only packed one pair of boots. That day, I learned to let go of the big worries.

I wrote about September 28th, 2013, my 17th birthday. I recalled the night the five of us started at the ceiling of a balmy, beige hotel room: Sydney, the nail-biting girl with glasses I befriended behind the iron gate at school, Olivia, the girl I sat next to in English class, and Tayma and Lindsey from room 208.  Syd cracked the window, and we heard our classmates’ fleeting giggles outside on the beach. We could discern the sand flying up behind their heels, their batting hearts slurred into one collaborative throbbing.  Olivia interrupted the hush. “So, why are we here and not out there, then?” In the quiet that followed, I saw the day’s events spiral through my head. Olivia whispering to me about the day she told her mom she was bisexual – it was New Year’s and they were eating Chinese food. Tayma’s furrowed brow in the modern art museum where we saw a statue she perceived as sexist. Lindsey’s shudder at the mention of love. Sydney’s eyes all lit up on the bus when I put one of her headphones in and listened to the song that reminded her of home. In that moment, I realized I could learn more from talking to these four than from a game of flashlight tag. I also realized I had an answer for Olivia. I said, “We aren’t out there, because we should talk.” And so we did. We talked until the night slipped away, and it wasn’t my birthday anymore. Nine months later, I wrote about the day I got the rare, good kind of scar that comes with confiding in four strangers that would soon become my best friends.

I wrote about March 5th, the day I added another scar to my growing collection. I found myself alone in Paris with only 20 minutes to catch a train to the south of France. I loathed clocks then, watched the seconds they shattered, stumbled from Metro A and then to E through tears of despair and shoved past ladies in mustard pea coats and gentlemen underneath top hats with tangled luggage dragging behind the sullied fabric of my skirt. With mascara streaming down my cheeks, I asked around for tissues, jumped turnstiles like hurdles, scrawled phone numbers with lipstick, paused only to scowl at the time on my 2:37 P.M. ticket, longed for a miracle that would keep the ticket-collector from ticket-collecting, and missed my train. No miracle. I wrote about standing in the middle of the Paris Austerlitz Gare, a 17-year old-girl, gasping for breath in the city of lights with an invalid ticket and no place to spend the night. I wrote about feeling alone in a foreign country then, but its funny because in California six months later, I realized that I’ve never felt more like a misplaced foreigner.

After France, memories came back to me in quick, sharp bursts. The thing about nostalgia is you can lock it up as secure and firm and concrete and sturdy and impermeable as you conceivably can, and out it slips in a heartbeat, released by a stranger’s soft lips, an apartment’s peeling paint, the sliver of yellow in the hallway, the murmur “want to know a secret,” a familiar song sliding through the radio speakers on a Monday night, the crackle of my television’s dizzy flickering static, the ashes of some boy’s cigarette glowing in the night fluttering onto the boulevard where he kicks dust off his shoes.

The last time I wrote in my black notebook, I should have been sleeping. At 1:13 a.m. on June 27, 2014, I scribbled:

“I know I will be okay, that one day I will look back and read these dumb explanations and trite letters, and I will have forgotten what Wednesday nights were like in December and what it felt like to be 17. I will have forgotten the sheets of rain that pooled in between my collar bones all the days my umbrella snapped, Madison Avenue, Backstage and listening to 505 for hours in a bed that was too white. I will stop wondering about the man who used his coat sleeve to wipe the bus window so I could see outside and I will stop mailing letters to Sydney and Greg and Lindsey and Olivia and Mike and Abby. I will forget because I cannot remember everything, and one day somebody will stop returning my phone calls, and France will fade away in a red haze.

I imagine that when I am 30, I will wear 2 inch heels and have an arrogant boss who smokes and that some day I will pull this little black notebook out from the back of my closet and I will read it and everything will seem childish and small. I guess that is what makes me so sad. Because these things happened and they made me blush and cry and smile. Right now, I don’t understand why nobody takes the bus in California, why Syd lives 2,782 miles away, why I don’t have a little brother to give girl advice to anymore.

There was a big wooden house that I called home, and I remember that when it rained, the windows got blurry, and I had to call the boy next door because I couldn’t see him from out my bedroom glass. There was a girl with golden hair and rose lips, and she held me when I felt as cracked and grey as the cement we spent midnights sprawled across. There was an ashy, glitzy street where we all went to fall in and out of folded love.

I hope I am wrong, and that I won’t actually forget the careless boys or the golden cities or the white houses, but just in case I do, and 30-year-old me doesn’t remember what it was like to be 17-year-old me, I need the woman wearing a pencil skirt living in a big city to remember that we were dumb and alive; that we were glowing from the inside out, and that everything was green: the green that is so light its almost white, but its not. Its green.”

Friends, family, and strangers alike often ask me the dreadful, dreadful question “How was France?” and to date, I cannot come up with a response that satisfies both myself and the surely well-intentioned (yet ignorant) questioner. I consider the nine months I spent in Rennes multi-dimensional, impossible to sum up in one sentence or a 300-page black notebook for that matter. I guess I wrote in an attempt to capture France as a whole, but by the 283rd page, I ended up realizing that the little details were what affected me the most. So here’s my answer. France was the taxi ride to the train I spent all night on, the night the four of us almost had to take Olivia to the emergency room, lingering fingers, hazy reflections, and the afternoon I had to mail all my sweaters back home at the downtown post office.

France was finding out that rain wasn’t something that only existed out my two-story window, a brick wall, the redbrick coat room in Mr. Solter’s apartment complex, the café where a stranger with a rose in his mouth walked in, slipped it in Lindsey’s mouth and kissed her, the first message he ever sent me: hey what number are we on the math thing? and the last message I ever sent him: I don’t care. she was my best friend. France was grown-up teenagers that would spit out smoke so the chimneys wouldn’t be the only ones emptying smog, feeling as dark blue as my nail polish, the sliding window across from my creased bed where on clear nights I would climb out onto my little corner of roof to wonder about the dots simmering in apartment buildings, the grinning boy who never did his math homework, murmuring walls, and bobby pins. It was a school exactly the same as back home – hallways buzzing with deafening whispers.

In February, Sophie and I went to Paris for a weekend. We had been warned to expect urbanity – cigarette butts, thick graffiti, curling smog, ugliness. Instead, we found ourselves among blushing people whose hearts tapped us through fur coats as we smashed together on the Metro. On Saturday night we went to a concert, and after, we hailed a cab at 4am with our numb fingers. When we squeezed back into our hotel room, the February sun had begun to poke in between the frosted window panes, but we ate candy for dinner and fell asleep listening to songs about 1901 and breakfast tears, our tangled tights dangling off the blue beds. Sophie and I don’t talk anymore. I think the main reason I filled the notebook with memories, “scars” was because I figured if I wrote about these things right after they happened, time wouldn’t be able to change the way I perceived France and the people I met there. Because I know how these things go. The man selling flowers on the corner will start selling cars or something and he won’t be there anymore to ask people if they feel alright, the drunk man on the bus will stop mistaking 17-year-old girls for his ex-wife, and Sophie might even stop stealing chapstick from CVS.

 XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

P.S. Listen to this song: Death Cab for Cutie – We Looked Like Giants

Posted in All Posts, My Year in France, Rants | 34 Comments

The People Were Made of Paper

Dear Reader,

I, like my mother, am stuck in the 80’s.

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(top: thrifted, shorts: American Apparel, tights: Nordstrom, boots: Steve Madden)

As I was saying, my favorite TV show is (and has been since 8th grade) My So-Called Life, I am a strong believer in the grunge movement, and high waisted shorts are yes. Naturally, I get very excited when autumn rolls around, because crisper air means that I can bring out my tights and combat boots. For this outfit, I paired a floral top I thrifted (could very well be from the 80’s) with my favorite pair of high waisted shorts, scuffed tights, and black boots.

Oh and I made a mood board to go along with my outfit (that highlights my current/for-always love of floral prints, cranberry lip colors, and denim) because I have a mild (bad) addiction to Polyvore. Capture d’écran 2014-10-01 à 22.39.17 In honor of the 80’s, I’m going to end this post with my favorite quotes from My So-Called Life so enjoy.

“Seeing a teacher’s actual lunch is, like, so depressing. Not to mention, her bra strap.”

” It just seems like, you agree to have a certain personality or something. For no reason. Just to make things easier for everyone. But when you think about it, I mean, how do you know it’s even you? And, I mean, this whole thing with yearbook – it’s like, everybody’s in this big hurry to make this book, to supposedly remember what happened. Because if you made a book of what really happened, it’d be a really upsetting book.”

“I bet people can actually die of embarrassment. I bet it’s been medically proven.”

“There’s something about Sunday night that really makes you wanna kill yourself.”

“When I was little I, like, worshipped Halloween. And truthfully, part of me still does. ‘Cause it’s your one chance all year to be someone else.”

“Everybody’s an act. Including you.”

“Things were getting to me. Just how people are. How they always expect you to be a certain way. Even your best friend.”

“My dad thinks every person in the world is having more fun than him. Which could be true.” “I’m in love. His name is Jordan Catalano. He was let back, twice. Once I almost touched his shoulder in the middle of a pop quiz. He’s always closing his eyes like it hurts to look at things.”

“If only there were a button somewhere that I could push to force me to stop talking.”

“Sometimes someone says something really small… and it just fits into this empty place in your heart.”

“Once upon a time there lived a girl. She slept in a lovely little cottage made of gingerbread and candy. She was always asleep. One morning she woke up and the candy had mold on it. Her father blew her a kiss and the house fell down. She realized she was lost. She found herself walking down a crowded street, but the people were made of paper, like paper dolls. She blew everyone a kiss goodbye and watched as they blew away.”

All said/written by Angela Chase of course. Comment your favorite one.

XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

P.S. Listen to this song: Young the Giant – Mind Over Matter

Posted in All Posts, Fashion, OOTDs | 27 Comments

18

Dear Reader,

Three days ago was my 18th birthday. I guess I’m an adult now. Funny how these things go. Its weird; I remember I used to want to grow up so badly. I would play dress up with sequined tube tops and stumble around in red high heels. I used to think getting older meant I would get to wear mascara and eat ice cream whenever I wanted. I suppose that technically those things are true, but what I didn’t realize when I was 5 or 12 or even 17 is that growing up will break your heart in the slowest way. Its like one day you wake up or look at someone you don’t talk to anymore or throw away your favorite pair of shoes that doesn’t fit you anymore and you realize that you can’t stop your life from going on. Oh my that last bit sounded awful I didn’t mean to sound so old/sad. But in all seriousness, I’m scared. I’m scared that soon I won’t remember the name of the girl who used to tie my shoes in preschool or the songs my mom hummed to me after elementary school or the blue dress I wore on Sundays. I know that someday I’ll buy an apartment with Sydney and we’ll have a view of a brick wall out the kitchen window and I’ll be able to wear high heels without tripping, but I really don’t want to forget all the people I’ve been. I’m afraid that if I don’t remember what it was like to blow out 7 candles, by the time I’m blowing out 19 I won’t care that if you flip a poppy upside-down you can find a queen or that it’s bad to step on cracks in the sidewalk.

XX, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

Posted in All Posts, Rants | 49 Comments