Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bare: A Sex-Themed Storytelling Series

A. and I are always searching for fun and sexy situations to get ourselves into. From kissing parties (fairly tame) to poly cocktails (typically just to hang with friends) to a night at a Russian banya (that was steamy in so many ways), we're fairly open to checking new things out if only for the stories that arise from those events and to satiate our curiosities. Last night, we attended one of the more tamer affairs that turned out to be pretty damn good: a sex-themed storytelling series in Park Slope's Union Hall.

Bare: True Stories of Sex, Desire, and Romance is a monthly event where storytellers, comedians, and other characters share their salacious tales of naughty encounters. Let me just say that the stories were far more entertaining than they were arousing, but I loved hearing other people's experiences nonetheless. It was really refreshing to hear them talk about sex in its various forms (open/monogamous/poly/LGBT relationships, promiscuity, voyeurism, fetishes, etc.) with such confidence. They owned those stories! Despite the crazy situations they shared, it was all thrown out there with an acceptance that yes, this is who they are, what they've done, how they've done it, and guess what? It was fun as hell. I'm not nearly as brave or risqué, but it was fun to live vicariously through these lovable freaks for an hour and a half - yes, even the self-proclaimed "Smutmeister" who f--ks and drinks her way through Burning Man.

Though I enjoyed attorney/activist Diana Adams' story about an honest and open four-way relationship she was once a part of, our favorite act was comedian Mike Amato and his love affair with a fine "Jew'ish" piece of ass. We liked him so much, I made sure to grab a postcard for his next event which will be a comedy/burlesque/game show called Grab-Ass! at the Bowery Poetry Club Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 10 p.m. 

So are these types of events too "out there" and crazy for you or do they appeal to your kinky side? Either way, you'll know where I'll be next week.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Inspiration

I'd never heard of 16 Hours Magazine before (have you?), but their recently-released manifesto is really something I could get behind. A call to action, adventure, travel, creativity, and the pursuit of improvement sounds like a wonderful recipe for inspiration.

Image: 16hoursmag.tmblr.com via herecomesthesunblog.com

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful For...

Having a safe haven to call home every night. A dad who might have left the house, but never for one second even thought to leave any of our lives. A mom who shows she cares in her own ways. Siblings who never fail to make me smile with their silliness. A boyfriend who adores me, pushes me, and serves as never-ending practice in patience and understanding. Friends who are such huge sources of comfort and laughter. As a freelancer, I'm grateful to have a job I was able to switch into when I was laid off in the summer. I'm so thankful to finally (finally!) have health insurance after two years of buying into the Fingers Crossed policy. And I'm thankful to you, my little monkeybutts, for reading all about my ups and downs, the good and bad moments, the crazy and the sane over the last years. It feels like we've come a long way, huh?

Have a truly happy Thanksgiving.

Image: ohhappyday.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Does Sharing the Bathroom Ruin or Improve Intimacy in a Relationship?

About two months into our relationship, I remember being at A.'s apartment and feeling really sick. After hours of discomfort and A. asking what he could do to make me feel better, I was still tight-lipped about what exactly was wrong with me. I was too mortified to let my new boyfriend know that my tummy wasn't quite right and sharing a small studio space with someone made it even harder to hide that something was wrong.

Eventually I caved in and quietly asked, "Are we at a point in our relationship where we can talk about poop and you'll still like me?"

And with his "Of course," I felt like we'd broken through an unspoken barrier.

I'm usually incredibly shy when it comes to expressing bodily functions around strangers and friends, but am happy that A. and I are so comfortable with each other there's rarely an embarrassing moment between us. We tease each other about morning breath, gas, tummy issues, monthly cycles, and whatnot, but we know it's just a natural part of being human. When I asked if he'd love me more if I hid all that from him, A. simply replied, "It wouldn't make a difference."

We've also no qualms about using the bathroom at the same time. We brush our teeth together and our showers are almost always for two. If one of us needs to pee, the other does his hair or shaves at the sink to save time. The door only remains closed if one of us really needs to be in there alone.

I know a guy who likes to think girls don't fart, poop, stink, or do anything gross and I thank God A. isn't that unrealistic in his expectations of me. I love that I can wake up with my wild hair and crusty eyes and not pretend that I'm perfect (or always perfectly groomed) for him to spoon me in the morning. That's not to say I don't partake in any upkeep, but if I haven't had time to shave in a few days, that's okay, too. Our showers have become our little bonding moments where we chat and relax while we lather up. When we're each on our computers for hours on end or focused on our own thing, shower time is a playful and intimate (and environmentally friendly!) break for the two.

But I'm curious to hear what you guys do. Is bathroom time strictly a solo affair or do you believe that sharing some of those moments brings you closer together?

Image: whereisthecool.com

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Friday!

Hi peeps! Winter temperatures are slowly dragging in around here and I've been keeping warm inside this new café crush I've got going these days. That's right! I've finally found a nice, chill spot down in the Village where I can write, read, and sip on the best caramel apple cider I've ever tasted. Just thinking about heading down to The Vagabond Café makes me feel all mmm because they've got free live music going several nights a week, the owners are down-to-earth (Mike even sings and is playing a mean guitar right now), and I'm pretty sure I'm thisclose to saying, "I'll have the usual" upon walking in and getting my mug of hot cider. Haven't you always wanted a place like that?

Here are 10 other things that have made me happy this week and yipers, can you believe Thanksgiving is less than a week away?!

1. Twelve soft, warm, and cozy throw blankets.
2. Words to live by.
3. S'mores cupcakes.
4. Network, share, learn, and dream with other creative bloggers.
5. Sixty-three points against Bradley Cooper's Sexiest Man of the Year title. (Do you agree?)
6. Designers share their music mixes. (via August Empress)
7. These entries for National Geographic's Photo Contest 2011 are breathtaking.
8. A curious little piggy bank.
9. This couch makes me want to move out and buy all my furniture again.

And 10. Congrats to Joyce and her little baby boy!

Images: joannagoddard.blogspot.com, flickr.com, call-me-cupcake.blogspot.com, blogbrunch.com, buzzfeed.com, augustempress.com, boston.com, bblinks.blogspot.com, and design-milk.com

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Petite Girl's Shopping Guide

As I've written before, my fashion sense is severely lacking not only because I'm clueless when it comes to style, but also because as a 4'9" woman who barely weighs 85 lbs. it's tough to find shops with clothes and shoes that actually fit my small frame. Things need to be either taken in, hemmed, cut, or whatnot so it doesn't look like I'm swimming in my clothes. I know there are stores with "petite" sections, but I swear those are just there to make average-sized women feel skinnier.

So I asked the petite ladies in Reddit's TwoXChromosomes and FemaleFashionAdvice sections for their favorite places to shop and they were awesome enough to offer up their suggestions. Several commenters made an interesting point: in the fashion industry, "petite" refers to stature (5'4" and under) and not size, which makes my problem two-fold. Garments are tailored for a shorter frame (in regards to pants and sleeve lengths), but might still need to be taken in if you're also really thin. Buy jeans that fit around the waist and then have the legs hemmed to the proper length. Make it a point to find a good tailor so when you find a piece you simply must have, he can make those adjustments that will make it fit just right.

"I'm 5'2" and petite sections of any store I go to are hit and miss," Redditor Turtleshellmagic writes on one thread. "It's a nightmare so I just try everything on and hope it fits. If I buy a particularly pricey piece, I don't mind having it fitted."

Below, you'll find a round up of tips, shops, brands, and websites that either cater specifically to petite women or have a great selection of items in smaller sizes.

H&M: Here, a size 2 usually fits, it just depends on the item and cut (typically tops and dresses). Plus, the prices are really low. Just remember that sometimes you pay for what you get and some items turn out to be a bit cheaply made.

Old Navy: It's not exactly fancy or anything, but I lucked out with jeans in the Old Navy children's section. They had size 10's and 12's that weren't decked in glitter and lace so I was finally able to score skinny jeans that actually fit me tightly.

Aéropostale: The fact that they plaster their name and year of establishment on everything they make has been a huge turn off for me the last several years, but I can't completely knock it. Their sweaters and tops have always fit me really nicely.

 "They sell pants in "short petite" sizes, which are extra small and extra short. I'm 5'0" so regular petite is too long for me," I-have-feet says.

Ardubuque agrees saying, "It takes me forever to find anything that fits my small but curvy frame set, but Kohl's usually has good jean selections in the juniors sections that aren't all frills and glitter."

Head to the mall: "For inexpensive casual clothes, any mall store that caters to both older teens/adults AND younger teens/preteens is a great bet as long as you're careful about what you buy," Leezza says before listing her go-to options like H&M, Forever 21American Eagle OutfittersDelia*s, and Hollister. ("They carry some very, very small jeans.")

Banana Republic: Another store that I've yet to really give a chance, but a couple Redditors swear by them. "Five feet, 103 pounds here," Jaleann11 writes. "I love Banana Republic. They have a petites section that actually means short AND skinny, and you can find their clothes cheaply at their outlet stores."

Ann Taylor Loft: Although others seem to luck out here, I've gone into Ann Taylor Loft only to find the petite section filled with sizes that could just as well fit in other racks in the store. "I used to work at Ann Taylor Loft," Michelement comments. "Their petite section is for women ranging from 5'3" to 5'6", as compared to their regular line which is designed for women 5'6" to 5'9". Five-foot-three is not petite by my standards, and their 00P dresses are loose on me. Basically, just because it says it's petite doesn't mean it fits."

And though you run the risk of needing to return your purchase if it doesn't fit just right, RedWiggler says, "The selection is sometimes better online."

J. Crew: The store is said to have slimmer measurements, but I haven't checked them out myself. I do like their coats and dresses though.

American Apparel: The company is a bit over the top with some of its products (you won't find me in neon orange lycra tights, but hey, that might be your thing). That said, they have plenty of items that fit tightly and their jersey dresses are actually simple, cute, and comfortable. I have a few from there including a certain fuchsia-colored number that can easily be dressed up or down and supposedly worn in 15 different ways.

Go international: Some suggested heading to Asia for smaller sizes and I can remember what a thrill it was to finally find tight jeans and tops at Pimkie and Promod during my first trip to France years ago. ECupcakes offered up YesStyle.com, which distributes fashion items from Asian designers, while Rikkirachel recommended Japanese shopping site Rakuten. "Since the median body type is usually shorter and smaller, their 'XS' will actually be quite small," Rikkirachel says. "Rakuten is a Japanese site with lots of stores that ship overseas (although some do not) and I've been able to get smaller-sized clothing and lingerie from there."

ASOS: My old coworker loved this U.K. retailer and would constantly browse and buy the cutest pieces from them - even though she had to pay for shipping from the U.K. But hey, now the company has a U.S. site and offers free standard shipping to the U.S. within six days.

Uniqlo: A couple commenters have mentioned Uniqlo's impressive selection, smaller sizes when compared to American stores, good prices, and free tailoring for pants. That final point is enough to make me want to check it out and with the Japanese store expanding throughout New York City, it'll be easier to pop into one.

Soïa & Kyo: Finding outerwear that's warm, sophisticated, and doesn't look two sizes too big on me has been tough. I managed to find an acceptable one at H&M a few years ago, but a couple years later the pockets were in tatters, the lining was starting to fall apart, and it just proved to be too light for NYC winters. Last year, and after months of no luck, A. surprised me with one he saw on a store window as an early Christmas gift. It's an XS long wool coat and wouldn't you know it fit perfectly. It's pricy, but it's so warm and cozy and the company even offers items a size smaller than mine.

And going back to stylish Asians and fashion, Extra Petite is an awesome blog created by a fellow petite who stands just under five feet all and is on a "quest for fashion that fits." She documents and shares her challenges and finds as she builds a wardrobe that actually flatters her figure. Expect lots of photos, reviews, resources, and tips about current sales.

Along with outerwear, finding lingerie in small sizes is a frustrating affair. This is why I've given up on browsing through major brands like GapBody and Victoria's Secret in the hopes of finding bras and nightwear that fits. Because they cater to the masses and average sizes, you'll have a harder time finding your right size in store if you fall above or below the average figure. Smaller lingerie retailers will have a broader inventory from different brands, more tailored pieces, and help fit you into the right size. Some will also adjust bra straps right in the store. (But P.S. An XS in panties from most stores fit just fine so this is mainly about bras and other lingerie.)

The Little Bra Company: I discovered this company during my last bra fitting at Town Shop and then immediately browsed their site to check out their collection and find other retailers that carried them in the city. They have a good selection of bras in really small sizes and sexy styles so no more bras that bunch up or make you look flat or obviously padded. You can order from their site or from a local lingerie retailer.

Aerie: I'm adding American Eagle Outfitter's underwear line even though I haven't been able to find a bra that fits me perfectly just yet. But I know other slim women who've lucked out in this department - and by that I mean both on the boob front and the bra section of the store. Their underwear collection is so cute, it always hurts that I can't buy them.

Agent Provocateur: If you think there's no hope in ever finding a well-made piece of lingerie that hugs your body and makes you feel like a little sexpot, visit Agent Provocateur. It's very high-end so quite the splurge, but their items are just so beautiful it's hard not to imagine yourself in them. Corsets are meant to practically merge with your skin so you might find that a size 1 tied in tightly will leave you gasping for air.

Another lesson I'm slowly learning is this: always take the time and money to do it right. I've wasted so many years, money, and bandages in buying cheap products that either needed to be thrown out and replaced too soon or were never worn at all because they were so uncomfortable. This especially pertains to shoes.

"If you have a large budget, I would suggest you try more designer items," Cashsieh says. "Shop at a nice department store and they'll help you find your size...the higher end stuff tends to fit much much smaller. This is especially true for shoes. The higher end the brand, the smaller shoe sizes they have."

The Brooklyn-based stylist then shared her favorite stores and boutiques around the city with some lavish choices thrown into the mix.

Levi's: "As obvious as that sounds, they make solid all-American jeans in just about all the sizes imaginable," Cashsieh says. "Check them out online if you're hesitant to traipse through the city to find your size. Free People's cut and sizes tend to run small as well."

Opening Ceremony: "Really funky, really hipster," she says of the high-fashion yet playful boutique. "Check out their website as I find the store slightly overwhelming. Pick out what you want to try on, then go to store and find it."

Cotélac: "A French brand with really feminine airy pieces that should run rather small. But their clothes are usually loose fitting and you can get away with something slightly larger."

Chuckies New York: "I probably hate that place only because I worked there, but they do carry smaller sizes. The thing with shoes is you really have to just go try them on. Certain brands tend to run smaller, like Chloé, and others run big, like Stuart Weitzman. You have to have the patience to try on shoes, that's why I would suggest you go to a department store. They'll have a larger range of brands, hence a larger range of sizes."

Topshop: "They have a whole section of petites so you won't have to sift through everything," Cashsieh adds. "Their sizes also generally run quite small."

Aldo: I just bought my first pair of nice brown leather boots from them when I saw that a certain location carried size 5. They have a nice sturdy heel and I can comfortably walk around in them for hours without wanting to chop off my feet at the end of the day. Being comfortable makes a big difference when it comes to feeling confident and beautiful in what you're wearing and in turn motivates you to keep improving your style.

Zappos: I've only bought two pairs of Tretorn rain boots from them (it was my first shoe purchase from a website so I got two sizes) and I loved that I could return the extra pair without any shipping & handling charges.

 When I had to find a dress for a wedding last year, I knew the search was going to be a frustrating blow to my self-esteem. And it was. But it flew right up when I slipped into this dress at BCBG and saw that it was possible for me to find a dress that made me feel stunning. I only had to have the size 0 taken in a little bit and it was so worth it.

So petite girls tell me: where do you love to shop?

Images: hm.com, ae.com, aeropostale.com, store.americanapparel.net, jcrew.com, soiakyo.com, uniqlo.com, extrapetite.com, agentprovocateur.com, agentprovocateur.com, topshop.com, freepeople.com, cotelac.fr, bcbg.com, zappos.com, aldoshoes.com, and aldoshoes.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven Eleven Eleven

I don't have a lucky penny or a rabbit's foot or blow fallen eyelashes and dandelion puffs into the breeze. I've never seen a shooting star and I split a wishbone once, but didn't get the bigger piece. A ladybug has never landed on me and birthday candles appear but once a year. But there's just something about catching the clock when it's 11:11 that makes me smile and send out a tiny hope for something, you know, just in case.

So on this Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, 2011, I wish that you all have a wonderful weekend. I plan on taking advantage of this sunny weather before it dips, drawing out a few ideas that have been swimming around in my head, starting a new novel (Lolita!), and finally watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Here are some links I hope you'll enjoy:

A baby penguin necklace.
Spoonflower's military-themed fabric winner.
A stop-motion video made with 288,000 jellybeans!
Secret message bananas.
Pablo Picasso painting on glass. Watching this is almost like meditation.
Super Mario 3D Land comes to Times Square this weekend.
Why I heart Jimmy Fallon.
A sophisticated 2012 planner.
Flowchart for NPR's Top 100 Fantasy and SciFi books.

Image: Hilda Grahnat

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Would You Still be Counting After 20 Kids?

I haven't had cable at home for almost two years now, but when you eat, sleep, and breathe the Internet, there's just no escaping some news. This week, bloggers, news sites, and even my Facebook peeps were chatting about the Duggar family and their latest announcement. For those who are not familiar with TLC's 19 Kids and Counting, the reality show follows the lives of Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar as they raise their rather large clan in Tontitown, Arkansas. On Tuesday, the entire family paid a visit to the Today show to announce that they're expecting their 20th child.

Twenty kids. All conceived and brought into the world by one woman. My body hurts just thinking about it.

The Duggars have already received their share of criticisms over the years especially after their 19th child, Josie, had to be delivered three and a half months prematurely in order to save Michelle's life. The baby weighed only one pound six ounces, was born with a perforated bowel, and had several medical emergencies while the mother suffered gall bladder problems and preeclampsia during the pregnancy. Not only does this put her at higher risk for preeclampsia in subsequent pregnancies, but doctors also say Michelle could face a higher chance of excessive "bleeding after delivery if her stretched-out uterus can't contract to its normal size as well as it used to." And so people are wondering why the 45-year-old is willing to risk her life for a 20th child.
So many other questions come to mind: How can each child possibly get the attention it needs from his parents when he currently has to compete with 18 other siblings? If their beliefs have led them to reject birth control and they leave God to do their family planning, as they've said in the past, would Michelle ever put her health before her faith? And since the family is currently debt-free thanks to real-estate investments and income earned from their show, book, and other merchandise, would they have had this many kids if their lives weren't being filmed by TLC? (Considering they were already on number 17 when the reality show debuted in 2008, I'm going with probably.)

The family has their child raising down to a set order: older siblings are paired with a younger child to mentor and look after; everyone is home schooled, restricted from using the Internet and television shows, and are taught to play an instrument; they follow fundamentalist Christian beliefs and rules on politeness; and the older children practice chaperoned courting instead of dating around and abstain from physical contact until marriage. To the girl who grew up in a completely different world, some of it sounds stifling, but how would you keep order in a house of so many? Obviously we're only shown snippets and moments in their day that are then strung together to create these episodes, but calm and cheerful Michelle seems to have the job under control.

My parents come from fairly big households, which is not uncommon in the Dominican Republic. My father is the youngest of seven siblings while my mom comes from a home with 11 children. In my mother's case, the older kids had to grow up quickly, abide by some fairly harsh rules, raise the little ones, maintain the house, and, in many cases, put their education and career dreams aside to earn an income. Though they were well off by the village's standards, I've wondered why my grandparents would take that extra strain on. To make sure at least one of their children made it somewhere? Would the kids have had a better shot if their resources didn't have to be divided as much?
But at the end of the day, does society have a right to say if bearing so many children is right or irresponsible? That choice clearly isn't for all of us, it sure as hell isn't for me, but if each of those children are well taken care of, receive the attention, education, and room to grow, then we can't really dictate what one family should or shouldn't do. Would I personally risk my child's life and mine, go into severe debt, and quite possibly go insane? Absolutely not.

And for those who think TLC's programming is a bit procreation happy (though I have to admit I did love me some Jon & Kate Plus 8 back in the day and was quite sad when they split), I recently attended an event for the channel's second season of A Conception Story. This one follows six couples going through different fertility issues as they try to have a baby. The four couples present at the press gathering were all so open and honest about a topic that typically carries shame and secrecy and I really appreciated that along with the humor they still managed to inject into the situation. I do wonder how they feel about the Duggars and if they ever look to them with envy or pain because it seems to come so easily for them.

In addition to coming away with questions about whether or not my petite self would have problems when I'm ready for a family, I also received a pink bag full of First Response ovulation, fertility, and pregnancy kits and more sticks to pee on than I know what to do with. They're stored away for now (and to keep A. from getting nervous), but I'm sure they will come in handy years from now when I decide to have a child or two at most.

Images: tlc.howstuffworks.com

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Float On

I've already admitted that I don't know how to swim, but would you believe me if I said I don't even know how to float? I understand the mechanics behind it, I do. Legs up, arms out, lie back, but I haven't been brave enough to let go and leave the waters to their job. I'm scared that the laws of physics won't apply to me and that I'll fall under if I dare to leave the shore behind. I imagine the waves knocking me over and the undertow pulling me beneath the surface, me gasping for the air just out of reach while the current sweeps me away.

But then here's the thing: in order to float, you must trust in the process - completely. Without trust, you'll never let the sea float you above the rolling waves or enjoy the ride with all its ebbs and flows knowing that your head will always remain above the water.

Image: flickr.com

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Just Came to Say Hello

Man was last week a toughie, so much so I needed to step away for a few days and regroup. That meant cooking, napping, attending Italian class, visiting a friend, long walks, letting my emotions run free, reeling them back in, doing research, lighting candles, watching movies, and taking more relaxing baths in one week than I had all year. I even made it a point to do my nails and wear makeup for no good reason other than to make myself feel nice. Do you guys get dolled up when you're feeling blue, too?

I didn't even bother turning on my computer all weekend until my Sunday night shift started and seriously, that's a change I found immensely helpful. Sometimes I feel like too much obsessive Internetting makes me go on the fritz. But here I am! So how about we kick off the week with a little pep? Because even when things are sucking royally, take comfort in the thought that given enough time, things do turn out pretty okay and this moment will be but a small and gnarly thread woven into the fabric you'll have created with all your years and experiences.

  Hello (Radio edit) by martinsolveig