The Grace Year

I preordered Kim Liggett’s new novel The Grace Year as soon as I could, and was riveted the moment I had it in hand to devour.  There is simply no other way to consume this book — heart in hand, fully devouring this tale of girlhood and womanhood.  Liggett’s speculative fiction expertly weaves a world where women have no power or agency, save the magic they must be rid of in their sixteenth year, the grace year.  the_grace_year_coverIt is a survival story, a modern fairy tale, a coming-of-age, a resistance manifesto, and a terrifying horror yarn all at the same time, deftly told and hauntingly realized.  I could not put it down.

There are so many ways that women and girls tear each other apart and lift each other up by turns, and this novel  explores those dynamics in interesting ways.  What does power come to mean when you are entirely deprived of it?  How do we define ourselves within the rhythms of family, society, friendships, and love?  What does that mean for our self-hood?  How can we push for meaningful change?  All of these are questions I turned over in my mind as this story unfolded.

Besides a fascinating macro look at a society described by some as The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies, I thoroughly appreciated Liggett’s attention to small details.  The language of flowers in particular made for a beautiful leitmotif, further strengthening her world-building.  Flowers make for a common language, but they also prove to be a perfect metaphor for the girls themselves.  Fragile, beautiful, unique, prized, just as easily crushed as admired — the Grace Year girls and their story will haunt you long after Liggett’s last page.

Bouclé all day

Delightfully crisp mornings have finally arrived in southern California, and I’m embracing the change wholeheartedly with a comfy-yet-polished Friday outfit.  Mustard-y ochre is having a bit of a moment, and this a super-affordable little bouclé number had me at “hello.”  Paired with the perfect drapey tee, some modern earrings, and luxe velvet mules, it is the ideal way to welcome autumn — and the weekend!

bouclé jacket  pearl earrings  velvet loafers  dark denim  drapey tee

balance point

acs_0186
Paris, 2019

 

balance point

 

In some ways you are good for me
these turning twisting wider horizons
in which I can feel myself opening
broadening, stretching,
a cat just awoken.

And yet,
it pains me to be in your world and not of it
a phantom voice without sound, only words
adrift in maybes and if-onlys
hopes dashed
feelings bruised
hands bereft
of the warmth
of you.

My heart smiles and aches.
Two sides of the coin
that is loving you
from the sidelines
of your life.

They say perspective is everything.
Perhaps I feel I am haunting your margins
but in your world
I am writ large…

And yet,
there I am
falling into the trap
of maybe,
with steel jaws to crush me
if I dare hope.

I struggle in that vicious in-between.
I am too much and not enough.
You would think I could be enough, be just right —

And yet —
I am both and nothing.

If only I were to find the fulcrum,
that razor of a balance point,
I might finally
be your perfection
writ large.

–Charla M. DelaCuadra

Optimized?

At this point I think it is safe to say I have become a total Jia Tolentino fangirl.  (Jia, you’re amazing!)  Her articles are thought-provoking and so on-point, I can’t help but share another.

jia_tolentino_guardian_optimized

A couple weeks ago her essay Athleisure, barre and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman was published in The Guardian, and I have been thinking about it ever since.  I highly recommend taking a few minutes out of your day to read and ruminate.

“Figuring out how to “get better” at being a woman is a ridiculous and often amoral project – a subset of the larger, equally ridiculous, equally amoral project of learning to get better at life under accelerated capitalism. In these pursuits, most pleasures end up being traps, and every public-facing demand escalates in perpetuity. Satisfaction remains, under the terms of the system, necessarily out of reach.”

–Jia Tolentino

With the expectations of womanhood becoming more insane at every turn, in this era of Instagram and curated feeds and “lifestyle” branding, have we optimized ourselves out of the possibility for genuine contentment?  I myself find it very difficult to feel satisfied and contented, but perhaps it has less to do with any personal failings to “choose happiness” and much more to do with the insidious all-encompassing hamster wheel society has convinced us is necessary.  And at the particularly insidious intersection of capitalism and patriarchy, it becomes even harder.

If capitalism didn’t ingrain in us that we always need more, better, pricier things to signify success, or if the patriarchy didn’t force us to gauge our worth by our attractiveness, youthfulness, and willingness to accommodate, aka our “fuckability”… what then?  Tolentino is correct, I think, that the ultimate question is to ask what we ourselves really want, whether within or despite the systems we live in.  What will make us content?  What will let us feel whole and happy?  Perhaps that becomes the most difficult thing of all —  to find out what our own real desires are, rather than simply wanting to be desired, admired, and optimized.

 

 

Five great pendants

Pendant lighting has been having a real moment of late.  Pendants are classic and versatile, and with so many beautiful choices these days, you can easily find something to refresh your space.  Here are five I am currently coveting:

This lovely milk glass option is feminine in all the right ways.  It would add just the right touch of Parisian flair to a breakfast nook.

A sleek nude nude pendant with Scandi vibes can make a quiet statement wherever you might hang it.

Alabaster combined with a faceted bulb makes for a glam and alluring option.  I’d love to see a pair of these flanking a velvet headboard in a bedroom.

Cement’s industrial edge is tempered by warm wood in this visually well-balanced choice.

This petite pink cylinder pendant is right on-trend with it’s blush hue and diminutive size.  A row of three of these over a kitchen island would be beautiful AND functional — and they’re a great price to boot.

Little rusty

As September gets going, I inevitably think of back-to-school times.  It stays hot in southern CA well through October, but I love fall clothing and could hardly wait to break out that new brown corduroy jumper or pretty sweater.

It is far, far too hot to consider sweaters at the moment, but in the meantime I’m feeling inspired by rusty, earthy hues in every iteration.  Rust can look fresh with white, wicker, and linen, or deliciously moody with deep blues and ochres.  Terracotta, amber, burnt sienna — whatever the hue, these interiors incorporate rust beautifully, and I’m here for it.

Photos via:  livingbylo  petite passport  remodelista  bobby clark  my scandinavian home  rue mag  anthropologie  jessicamenda  sfgirlbybay  altoon sultan

Summertime, an’ the livin’ is easy

I’m not quite ready for summer to end yet!  Breezy neutrals are still on my mind — rattan, wood, linen, and all the rest.  If you’re still feeling as summery as I am, here are a few reading nook chair/table/lamp combos to curl up in and relax over the long weekend, drink in hand.

chair / table / lamp
chair / table / lamp
chair / table / lamp
chair / table / lamp

Eclectic, light, and easy, these pieces will give a relaxing vibe to your home all year long.  And if you need any reading suggestions for the weekend, might I suggest this or this?  Kick back and enjoy!