Friday, April 29, 2011

Please Excuse Me...

{photo by Leonel Medrano, post processing by me}

...while I finish my law school education.  k thanks.  (I'll be back in a few days!)

P.S. I give you permission to laugh at my crazily different-sized eyeballs.  There's nothing I can do about it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Royal Hat

Are you staying up to watch the Royal Wedding?  What will she wear, what will she wear??

Well I know what I would wear.


I can think of nothing better than wearing donuts on my head at 1am while watching The Wedding from my couch.



{reflection in the Bahamas}

From literal to figurative.  You there yet?  Ok. 

I must admit that I am the worst when it comes to self reflection.  I remember becoming accutely aware of this weakness in high school religion class when we had to meditate at the beginning of each class session (that's a whole other post).  I think my record was like 10 seconds.  Seriously.  Since then, I've tried yoga, of the hot and not-hot varieties, and every time, I've failed to achieve whatever kind of peace of mind or mindfulness or present-ness or whatever you're supposed to feel when you ohm while simultaneously contorting your hips, inverting your head, and pressing your hands into prayer position (behind your back).  Quiet places don't bring me peace or make me want to think about anything other than how repressed I feel without noise.  Even filling out class evaluation forms at the end of the semester kills me.  I'm just too impatient to look back (I'm pretty sure I have undiagnosed ADD or something).

Well, this time, as my greatest almost-but-not-yet-accomplishment to date is staring me in the face, as is a move to LA, I am going to consciously take some time to reflect.  To think about the last three years -- what I want to take with me, and what I would prefer to leave behind (and how to do that).  I want to be able to take a step outside my head and consider the view of my life as it stands right now, and think about how I can make it even better in LA.  I'm really going to try.  I'll let you know how long it lasts.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Breaking Up with Berkeley

Dear Berkeley,

I'm sorry to have to do this to you, but after nearly three years, I think I owe it to you to be honest.  And in all honesty, it's about time I tell you that it's just not working out for me.

Your morning stench, the unsettlingly warm steam that rises from your street grates, the incessant shrieks of your bums calling me a nerd as I walk home from class -- these are all parts of you that have made it increasingly difficult for me to stay.  And there's one other thing.  I don't mean to to be too harsh, but I think it's fair to point out that you demand undeservedly high rent rates, but then are too broke to offer me any decent public services in return.  I mean, you never even bother to take out the trash that overflows from your decrepit frat houses onto your pot-holey streets every morning.  Holding my breath every three steps is only a viable option for so long.  Plus, morning trash fumes are just such a turn-off.

Please don't try to play the "But I'm only a 20 minute BART ride from the city!" card.  Frankly, your BART access does little to make up for your short-comings when the trains stop running before midnight.  And don't even get me started on your bus system.

Sure, we've had times together over the last three years that I will look back on and smile about.  Like the time when Lisa and Shahrzad danced with a strange man who had a toothbrush and toothpaste in his shirt pocket at one of your bars.  Or the time that my friends made me walk down your dirty wet streets in the dark while I clutched my pepper spray only to surprise me with a birthday party.  Or all the time I've spent sprawled on Leslie's carpet, eating her delicious dips.  Or the times I spent drinking wine with Brian on your hillside staircase, the sun setting behind the campanile and the dusk lighting hiding your gritty flaws.  But those memories don't have to do with you.  They have to do with the people who have been part of my life here over the last three years, and those people will be with me always, regardless of whether I stay here with you, or leave.

So what I'm trying to say is: it's not me, it's you.

It's over Berkeley; I'm leaving you for L.A.

Your ex,


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Anti-Rapunzel

Need some inspiration in your life?  I've got something for you today.  Something really good.

I promised you a make-over story, and today I will deliver.  Well actually, Lisa will deliver (I'll just provide the visuals).  Lisa is a good friend of mine, so obvi I know she's one amazing woman.  But this story made me love her humor, insight, and spunk even more.  And I know you will love her too.

So to start us off, here's Lisa before this haircut decision.  (And actually, this was taken a few moths ago, so imagine like an extra inch or two on that mane.)

{at BART before heading to the SF Ballet Opening Night Gala}

And this is Lisa after.

{also look here if you missed it}

A beauty, eh?  Well here's Lisa to tell you how she got the chutzpah to lose more than 13" (13" was just the pony tail!!!) and end 24 years of long hair:

When Ashley asked me to tell my story from my haircut, I felt a little nervous.  What would I say?  How could I express the emotions that came with getting rid of what I now refer to as an adult security blanket?  What will people think when I try to make such a simple and silly event sound profound?  [Oh gosh, this is how all guest bloggers start off their posts, isn’t it?  What-oh-what will I write?  I might as well have just described the lunch/bar setting and what the latest actress wore as she breezed across the room to greet me and my interviewing pen with a smile --- side note from journalism 101, mentally apologizing to all of my professors, but I digress.]

{pulling back the pony tail for one last time}

So, I got my haircut.  Big deal.  Big deal?  BIG DEAL??  Yes.  It was a big deal.  A very big deal.  And yet, coming out on the other end of it, it wasn’t such a big deal after all [insert shy, devious smile here].  Law school has done funny things to me.  Every once in a while I’m kept up at night by sheer fixation on change.  As in, I need a change, and fast.  Usually eased by a quick trip to a fabulous store’s online web address and my virtual “shopping cart,” a few digits of my Visa entered onto the screen moments later, and voila! I’ve had my fix. 

{snip snip!}

This year was different.  Never mind that I'd cruelly inflicted a personal budget that left no room for any quick "trips" to an online store; in January, I started pondering life after law school.  That soon, in a few short months, I would end this transitional period I had entered thinking it would sail me into adulthood, and go on with my life, with only a bruised self esteem, more than a few pounds, and a shifted cynical view to prove it.

{the tail, which promptly went into a plastic bag}

Would I really exit law school nearly exactly as I had entered, I asked?  Brunette with just a few more inches to my coif to prove that time had passed?  It was at that time that the itch for change returned.  Only this time, I needed a drastic change.  Law school is stagnant.  It is overbearing and constricting and a porthole into time just passing you by.  I needed something to change.  I craved it.  And because I was of course going to finish school, wasn’t planning on breaking up with my boyfriend, and had already begun another self “project,” the change was going to have to be in my appearance. 

What exhilarated me about cutting my hair this short was that it was scary.  Remember when I said law school was stagnant?  Well it's also comfortable.  Sure there are a few oral arguments and sometimes you talk in class, but mostly you're not pushing yourself in any meaningful way other than begging your mind to hang on a few more hours to get in some productive study time.  And maybe this isn't just law school, but maybe it's life?  That we become comfortable in our routines; that we forget that pushing ourselves every once in a while is not only good for our characters, but also good for our souls.  Cutting my hair would be scary.  It would force me to abandon a look I'd maintained for the last 15 years, give or take a few inches: hair to the shoulder; hair to my top rib.  Hair back to the shoulder.  Oh, a few more months?  Hair back to my ribcage.  It's boring just talking about it.  But it was also comfortable.

One of the things I realized in the months spent pondering my big change was that long hair was an “easy pretty.”  I have never considered myself typically pretty and, like most women, feel I have left much to be desired about my appearance.  But long hair was the one thing I had that was typically pretty.  Never died, never permed, my virgin hair had natural highlights and, at its length before the cut, was synonymous with pretty, beauty, and femininity – and here’s the kicker – even though it wasn’t.  Sure I my hair was pretty, and long hair is certainly more of that “pretty,” but I finally realized that the longer my hair got didn’t mean that the “pretty” factor would continue to grow in conjunction with its length.  

What’s more: I’d had enough of the safe pretty.  I’d had enough of staying comfortable in my own skin, going to school every day and feeling like something’s got to be done to shake things up.  It was time to do that something: scare myself, push myself to try something different, and embrace my appearance in a way I’d never needed to before.

{Lynn in action}

Have I lost it?  Have I spent too much time pondering hair as a pathway into change, renewal, and overall personal energy? 


{fancy fingers}

But I also know that cutting my hair, abandoning that “safe pretty,” and forcing myself to push my comfort zone for a new look that is not typical, or one that fits into a commercial definition of beauty and femininity, has allowed me to grow in a personal way that could not have been achieved by another trim, personal project, or closet reorganization.  Perhaps I am just antsy.  And perhaps law school and its stagnant culture and daily routine magnify that antsy-ness.  But the itch was scratched.  And I will now exit this period in my life looking different than when I started, and having pushed myself on both an intellectual and personal level. 

{the finishing touches...}

The lesson here?  Change is good.  But you likely already knew that.  The real lesson is to help yourself grow.  Help yourself pass through the normal life cycles of change and renewal by pushing yourself on a personal level.  Whether it’s law school that’s constricting you, your job, or simply your daily routine, shake things up in a way that challenges you to accept and embrace the change; and come out on the other end thinking that wasn’t such a big deal after all.

{Voila.  Change!}

Thank you so much for being inspiring and funny and smart on this Tuesday morning, Lisa!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Where in the World...

Well, it's Monday.  I would wish you a happy Monday but I'm just not that peppy of a person, and I'm pretty sure that's an oxymoron anyway (let's be real).

On this Monday, I'm wishing that I could be far far away from this dreary weather and this dreary finals period.  So let's talk travel.  The imaginary (and therefore, best) kind. 

Here's a thought for you: if you could live in a different place for each part of your day, where would it be?

I would wake up in Florence where the early morning streets smell like freshly baked cornetti (the deliciously edible kind, not the Medieval wind instrument kind of a similar name).

{the Duomo - maybe my fave picture ever}

I would go to work in Copenhagen.  On my bicycle.  (Please note: in my fantasy world I would be a much more coordinated human, and Tasha would be there to translate for me.)  I'm banking on the assumption that they have a law there mandating 2 hour lunch breaks.

{the Grand Canal in Copenhagen}

I would have lunch in a cafe in the old part of Lisbon - baccalau, Brazilian pastries, and a bay view please!  (I don't even need to point out that alliteration do I?)

{the view from Lisbon's old town}

I would go to happy hour in Madrid so I could snack on patatas bravas and real sangria (in a cave. Duh).

I would have dinner in Paris (I would also speak French in my imaginary world, so French waiters would be nice to me), and then I would have a crepe with nutella.
{My mom in Paris in the '80s.  Yes, my mom has a blog.  She's awesome like that.}

And then I would do a quick change and go out for the night in London because British people are just cooler.  (See Agyness Deyn for reference.)  So much cooler, in fact, that there is an online tutorial here that provides step-by-step instructions for how to make people believe you're British.  Yes, I just googled "British people are cooler."  (Also note: in my fantasy world, the dollar-pound exchange rate would be reversed.)

(I wish I had a picture of London at night but I don't, so I'll give you the above picture of London during the day, and the below picture of me and Brian at the Absolut Ice Bar in London circa 2006, thinking we were bad ass.  I'm sure that place is not even a thing anymore, but 5 years ago a bar made out of ice was a big deal, k?)

I would fall asleep in a little town on Lake Como. 

{from the boat taxi}

....Or maybe in Hanalei, Kauai.  Italian mattresses do kind of's a toss up.

{Hanalei Bay, taken on our honeymoon.  Did I tell you about that post I did at Polka Dot Bride?}

And I would spend my weekends in Santa Monica, right where I will be for good in a few short weeks.

{I think I might have taken this in Venice, but whatevs}

Where would you spend your day?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sunset Snapshot

I wish my desk had this view (especially considering the finals studying I'll have to do this weekend). 

Happy Friday and Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all of you!

Look Up

{Lisa, at the SF Ballet's Opening Night Gala}

You never know what you're missing until you look up.

Fill in the Blanks Friday

{yellow and blue, taken in Berkeley}
Filling in the blanks with Lauren again.  (Side note: if you go read the other responses to this that are linked up on Lauren's blog, and you're like I don't get it - these responses are so not Ashley, then go read my post from Tuesday and realize that the reason I do this is not because I find similarities among myself and other bloggers participating but because I don't.)

1.   Fridays are       for celebrating!  I wish they were still half-days like in kindergarten.

2.   Sunshine, tax refunds, bin candy, and reality tv shows about weight loss   make me terribly happy.

3.  Something that inspires me is    Chihuly.  The exhibition of his work they did at the De Young in 2008 is something I still think about.  It was maybe the most exciting museum exhibition I've ever seen. (Feel free to disagree; I'm no art expert.)

4.  If I had the day off today I would     try to get my friends to play hooky and then go to Napa.  In a free limo.  And it would be warm.

5.  If I had to put a label on my home decor style, I would say my style is    mid-century mod lite.  I love me some mid-century Danish-style furnishings (see here for evidence of my love of Herman Miller-esque egg chairs), and clean lines are the only kinds of lines I do.  But usually I can't afford the mid-century stuff, and I do think that teak can get too heavy in small spaces (like the ones I've always lived in). So I like to keep it light and airy and fun with some more playful modern pieces.  Like this tree trunk side table that I've wanted forever but can't bring myself to spend the money to buy.  Or like my persimmon tables. I'm not into things that look vintagey or country; they just don't suit me.

6.  Concerning politics I would say I'm       not going to discuss it.  Brian for President, Leslie for dictator.  That's all.

7.  I'd like to go to       the royal wedding     so I could       wear a fancy hat.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Friendship Wreath and a Girl Scout Song

{photos by Leonel Medrano, who took our wedding photos, and post-processing by me}

I've been searching for a term to describe my group of friends for ages, but I've never been able to come up with a catchy catch-phrase.  I've considered "gaggle," "pod," and an analogy to a wheel with spokes that connect the inner and outer parts (don't know why that one didn't catch on...).  But these have only been successful in evoking images of geese, marine life, and cavemen.  What?  You don't get the caveman reference?  Well my inner dialogue is just weirder than yours.  Deal.

Anyway, my friend Caroline has gone and made my struggle look completely pathetic by easily and wittily coining the term "friendship wreath."  Meditate on that for a second because it's perfect.  It encompasses the connectedness, and how there's no beginning and no end (...I think that's from a Girl Scout song...), and it doesn't conjure images of the animal kingdom or prehistoric life.  And wreaths are just so festive.  So wreath it is.  Finally, closure to a pressing issue in my life. 

In case you're having trouble visualizing, here's a pic of me, Caroline, and Leslie being friends.  With one more head, we would actually be in wreath formation.

BUT WAIT.  It gets better.  Here's the Girl Scout song I was thinking of!!!  Oh, the good ol' days of competitive badge-acquiring and cookie solicitation!  I'm reprinting the lyrics here for your personal nostalgia.  (If you missed out on the Girl Scout experience, please imagine this being sung in a round by a group of gangly 10 year olds with messy hair and green vests for authenticity purposes.)

"Make New Friends"

Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

A circle is round,
it has no end.
That's how long,
I will be your friend.

A fire burns bright,
it warms the heart.
We've been friends,
from the very start.

You have one hand,
I have the other.
Put them together,
We have each other.

Silver is precious,
Gold is too.
I am precious,
and so are you.

You help me,
and I'll help you
and together
we will see it through.

The sky is blue
The Earth is green
I can help
to keep it clean

Across the land
Across the sea
Friends forever
We will always be

Gotta love the two-unrelated-thoughts-followed-by-a-friendship-rhyme technique.  But really, what is up with that random plug for the environment in the second to last stanza?  I mean, I'm all about the earth being green and the sky being blue, but I've never associated eco-friendliness with friendship....

....Then again, I associate wheels with cavemen.

Nothing Rhymes with Orange but I Still Like it

Now that I have that off my chest, I have two light and happy posts for you today.  Get excited.  This one is about orange, the next one is about friends.  (I told you they were happy.)

LA has inspired a love for orange in me.  When I think LA, I think orange.  I'm not sure why.  (Maybe it's all the fake-tans?  JK.  Fake tans are not inspiring.)  Anyway, I've been drawn to the whole range of orange lately - from coral, to neon, to dusty, to burnt.  On side tables, on shoes.  It's just happiness.  So here is an assortment of orange-y pictures from my life.  Enjoy.


{SF Ballet}

{the strand, Santa Monica}

{my apartment}

{the GG Bridge}

{Barbara's Fish Trap, Half Moon Bay}

{Chrissy Field}

{Palm Springs}


Happy Thursday!  Don't forget to come back later today for a groundbreaking post (just for me, really) about the "friendship wreath"!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Letter to My Readers

{Santa Monica sky}

Dear Readers,

I realized the other day that I never really explained to you why I started this blog.  Sure, in my very first post I said a little about what I wanted this blog to be about.  But I never really addressed the why, and I feel like I owe you an explanation.

So why blog about my not-so-unusual life?  Two reasons: (1) it satisfies my otherwise repressed creative side that has been gasping for air since I started law school, and (2) what I've seen so far on the blogosphere is mostly not representative of my life, my point of view, and the things that I like to talk about.

The first reason is fairly straight-forward, and if you know me, which I'm assuming 99.9% of you do, then you know that I've spread myself thin trying to edge some sort of creativity into my life over the last three years, leading to an apartment strewn with half-completed paintings, forgotten sewing projects, and an overflowing drawer of costumes.  So this blog is my way of focusing that energy on photography and writing; a creativity funnel of sorts.

The second reason, though, is the reason that I chose this blog over another paint brush.  My journey in the blogosphere started when I was planning our wedding, a beginning shared by many women in the blogging world.  But once I moved beyond wedding-tunnel-vision, I realized that many of the blogs I read daily had not followed me.  So many of those personal lifestyle blogs (like mine) whose writers started off as twenty-somethings planning weddings just seemed to stagnate in the world of weddings and newlywedom, and as a reader, I was bored.  I wanted something more substantial to read everyday, something that inspired me, made me laugh, taught me something, or pushed me to reflect on my own life.

The thing that really got me, though, was this moment I had when I started to identify less and less with my daily reads and I caught myself wondering if I was somehow less of a woman and wife for not caring about "new recipes that your husband will love," or the chronicles of spending weekends indoors with "Hubby and puppy."  Luckily, that millisecond passed quickly as I popped the screws back in my head and realized that it's not me, it's them.  And then I knew I had something to say.

Now let me be clear - there are some blogs out there that I do think are an immensely valuable contribution to women in social media, and some of those are listed over on the right as my "blog crushes."  But considering the growing role of blogging in shaping our cultural norms and social expectations, that is a very short list.

So here I am, making my voice heard in this little corner of the blogosphere.  I'm here to add to that short little list, and to connect with women who value love and relationships and family, but who want more than a wedding, a husband, and a puppy.  Women who are excited about their careers, women who are curious about the world, women with a sense of humor about themselves, and women who value the adrenaline rush of newness more than the comfort of stability.  Women who are real, like you and me.

So though I may blog about the lighter topics in life (like fanciful vacations, delicious restaurantsrandom adventures, and pretty things), I want you to know that there is a real, thoughtful, why to this blog, and it's something I really believe in.  Everything I write is something that I can get behind, and I hope you feel that way too.

This is all a lead up to me telling you that today is the day Newly goes "public."  Maybe some of you didn't know that I have been trying to keep this site relatively private, but it's true.  I've shared this site with only a select group of people so far, maybe because of insecurity, maybe because of discomfort with exposing my life to the entire inter-webs.  But today, I've decided that there's a good reason to take that leap.  So thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy what I have to say (and now go tell your friends about it)!

Love and best reading, from my laptop to yours (yes that's a Paula Deen rip-off),


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Law School Goes Chic

{my gorgeous friend and fellow law student, Lisa, and her smashing new haircut by Lynn at L Salon, taken by me at UC Berkeley}

I'm into haircuts.  I love them.  I change my hair as often as it will allow (I only wish it would grow faster so I could fit in more hairstyle changes in a year!), and I am a firm believer that a haircut changes more than just how you look.  It changes how other people treat you, and it changes how you see yourself.  It challenges you to push through your insecurities and be someone you always wanted to be but thought you couldn't.  It's an easy, no-consequences way to reinvent yourself and to push the boundaries of your comfort zone.  And the best part is, it always grows back just the way it started.  (I bet you didn't know haircuts could be so profound now did you?)

So of course, when my friend Lisa told me she wanted to cut her loooooong straight hair and donate 13 inches of it to Locks of Love, I was all about it.  I helped her choose photos for inspiration (Mia Farrow, Kelly Framel, Katie Holmes, Audrey Hepburn), and set her up with an appointment at L Salon with the only stylist who has touched my hair for the last 6 years, Lynn (whose real name is Lisa, too, but let's stick with Lynn at least for clarity's sake).

And now look how chic she looks!!!!!!!

I am in love.  The big glasses??  So chic it hurts.

But a successful "after" picture does not a makeover story make.  Don't you worry, you can bet your bottom dollar (what does that even mean?) I was there to document the before and all the in-between of this transformation.  I'll be back with pictures from the salon, and Lisa will be here to tell you all about it in a few days!  A guest post of sorts, but really just my friend writing on my blog :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Red Dress

{at BART, on the way to the SF Ballet Opening Night Gala}

Just a little dose of prettiness to start off your week.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sunset Snapshot

This one's coming to you from (where else?) the Bahamas.  I know this week I've inundated you with beachy Bahamian bliss (you see those alliterative skillz right there?), but I do hope it brought a bit of sunshine to your days during this almost-but-not-yet-summer time of year, and I do appreciate you letting me share the sidetracks of my life with you (not that you had a choice in the matter....). 

But my point is that everyday, I look forward to writing about the happiest parts of my life here, and I'm grateful if you stick around to listen.

{Nothing but ocean.  And a very pretty Tasha}

The real point of this post is that it's Friday.  So enjoy the sunset if you can, and go forth and celebrate the weekend!

Fill in the Blanks Friday

Friday means it's time again to fill in the blanks with Lauren!
1.   My favorite daily responsibility is,      responsibility?  What responsibility?

2.  My least favorite daily responsibility is,    see above.  But if I had to pick something I don't like about my life and call it a responsibility, I would say putting gas in my car.  It's so painful to watch how quickly the dollars exceed the gallons.


3.  My favorite cuisine to eat when going out is    thai food and Indian food because I could never replicate it at home.

4.  My favorite cuisine to prepare at home is     does dessert count?

5.  Andy Warhol said that everyone is famous for 15 minutes. My claim to fame is    my parents being on APW haha.  I came THIS close to my very own fame when I was interviewed on camera by HGTV one time at a furniture store for a living room makeover, but then they didn't pick me, so it was an overall fail.

6.  If I could have 3 wishes I would wish     for the power to grant wishes to whomever I wanted, whenever I felt like they deserved it; to have veto power over eliminations on all reality TV shows; to have the ability to see people's true colors as soon as I met them.  I could go on and on.  There are lots of things I want in this world.  Yes, I'm greedy.  No, I'm not ashamed by that.  Deal.

7.  My biggest pet peeve is       people who thrive on guilt.  That sounds a lot deeper than I meant it to be.  I just really dislike it when people try to push me into something by attempting to make me feel guilty.  It usually doesn't work because I'm pretty impervious to undeserved guilt having been raised by anti-establishment parents, but it just annoys me that people even have the gall to think they can exert power over my free will via unwarranted guilt trips.  
And on that note, Happy Friday!  May your weekend be gloriously guilt free! 

Brittany Meets Hermit the Crab

{I cannot stop laughing at this.  If you're not laughing, you might be suffering from seasonal depression.}

P.S.  I just wanted to point out that the three most frequently used labels on my blog right now are "beach," "sun," and "friendship."  Can we talk about how awesome that is?  I've joked before about how my life has peaked, but I don't even think it's a joke anymore.  Maybe I'll write a post about it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Peeps

For my birthday a few years ago, one of these girls (Ally) gave me a shirt with the words "Peeps Stick Together" printed over a picture of a peep of the yellow marshmallow variety. Now that, my friends, is love.  And that also has nothing to do with this post other than the title, and the I guess maybe it has everything to do with this post.  Either way, here are some pretties of my peeps.

{aren't they the prettiest?}

And a group shot for good measure.

{please excuse my lack of heels.  so unlike me.}

This one is on its way into a frame.  So much love.

Best. Reyoon. Ever.