Happy Friday y'all! This week has been so crazy busy and long, I'm happy for the weekend to be here. But of course, I'm not resting much. I'm off to Seattle this weekend to visit friends and see a show at the Seattle Art Museum. Should be fun if I can overcome my driving in Seattle anxiety! Here are some good things from the net for ya.

+ I've been loving Nicholas Scarpinato's photography lately - every photo is so stunning!

+ This book has made SUCH a difference for me, more things should be illustrated, please.

+ I'm going to this show this weekend - will hopefully do a blog post!

+ I'm in love with this little sweater.

+ I've been a fan of Ava for quite some time, but her new character Charlene is getting a lot of media attention!

(Photo by Nicholas Scarpinato, linked above)

I wanted to share a couple of photos from some rolls of film I got developed recently. I have an ongoing love affair with medium format film (or 120 as I usually call it). Bigger than 35mm and square, it seems to capture the depth and detail I'm looking for in my photos. I shoot with a Yashica D twin lens camera (which you can see here) and it's the love of my life. Seriously, I would save it out of a burning building kind of love. I shot one roll of Lomochrome Purple (another firm favorite - more to come with this soon!), a roll of Kodak Portra 400, and a roll of Ilford black and white. Big shout out to Old School Photo Lab for developing and scanning these - I've had some issues with some labs in the past and feel like I finally found a trustworthy team to send my film to! I'm holding onto one special photo from this batch for another post - thinking about doing my first series in quite awhile. I've been shying away from bodies of work since college but I think I finally have something I want to work on...more soon! 

I can't figure out how to style these pants.

I'm trying to get back into fashion again. I've been off my game for quite awhile due to body confidence issues, but I really miss putting together interesting outfits. So when I tried on these weird baggy pants at Target, I thought they would be a good place to start. Why? I have no clue. Probably because I felt like a cool Tokyo guy in them. I don't usually wear pants (skirts & dresses are where I'm at always) so this was kind of fun to mix it up. And these pants are super comfy and light. I paired them with a light flowy top with stars on, a boy scout style jacket, and a pair of Vans high-tops for a little bit of an edgier look. I'm also trying out something a little more collage-y and lighthearted for photo editing - I like making faces and not taking myself too seriously in photos, so adding some cutesy elements makes these photos extra fun (at least to me!). Also, I've been reading a lot of Japanese fashion magazines and they're always so cute. I just want to be cute OK???

How would you style these pants? Let me know - I'm eager for tips!

Star top & boy scout jacket: H&M
Pants: Target
Shoes: Vans

I had never heard of The Beguiled (book or Clint Eastwood film) before walking into the theater to see Sofia Coppola's take on the story. I'm so glad that I hadn't. I was completely enthralled by this film and had no idea what would happen until the very end.

The Beguiled takes place in Virginia during the Civil War. A group of women who have nowhere else to go have remained behind at an all girl's school on the outskirts of the battlefield. The story begins when one of the youngest students, Amy, stumbles across an injured Yankee deserter (Corporal McBurney) in the woods and decides to bring him back to the school for medical treatment. The headmistress, Miss Martha, is initially opposed to housing him but the case for Christian charity is made and she can't refuse. As the ladies nurse him back to health he slowly gains each of their trust and the women begin to let their guards down.

McBurney begins to see himself like a wolf in a hen house - he's excited to take every opportunity to exploit his situation. But he doesn't count on the separate motives each woman has for interacting with him. For Amy, she sees a fellow nature lover and friend. For the other young girls, he is an exciting curiosity to giggle about amongst themselves. For Alicia in her inexperience, he is a sexual partner she hopes to seduce. For Edwina, he's a potential love and way out of the life she's tired of living. For Miss Martha, he's a reminder of something she's lost and longs for.

Things take a dramatic turn, however, when Edwina catches McBurney in Alicia's bed and attacks him, causing him to fall down the stairs and break his newly-healed leg. The injury is too grievous for Miss Martha to fix and they end up amputating his leg. McBurney flies into a rage upon waking up and discovering his missing leg and takes the household hostage with a stolen gun. The ladies are forced to take drastic measures to rid themselves of their now unwelcome houseguest...

Sidenote: I know there has been some controversy around this film regarding the whitewashing of the original material. As I hadn't seen or read the original, I didn't notice this as acutely. The women seemed isolated and while the setting is during the civil war, the narrative almost seems to take place out of time. That being said, I think it might be time for Coppola to venture out of her "group of white women" comfort zone.

The atmosphere of this film is magical. Time seems to stop amongst the moss and lazy summer days, punctuated intermittently by explosions from the far off battlefield. The war feels far away from the daily lessons and sewing of the school until McBurney comes and brings a different kind of war to their doorstep. Coppola is a master of this heavy atmospheric tension in films and she uses the sparse score to heighten this deep unease. The acting is skillful - Collin Farrel reprises his eternal role as the guy you love to hate, Elle Fanning threatens to steal every scene she's in, Nicole Kidman is masterfully restrained. The costuming, sets, and cinematography are delicate and feminine, then turn to something more sinister as the plot progresses. Every aspect of this film carries the story along to its final conclusion with an impressive effortlessness.

I was enraptured by this film from the beginning and think that Sofia Coppola's directorial skills are only getting better with each film she creates. She is able to create complex female characters who can do bad things but are still deserving of empathy - a skill most directors in Hollywood don't seem to possess. The Beguiled is haunting, emotional, and a movie well worth seeing.

(photo sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 )

Happy Friday! It's a longish weekend for most people in the US as the 4th of July is next week. What are you doing for the holiday? I don't think I'm really doing anything this year which is a little bit of a bummer, but I will probably use the time to work on some projects. Here are a couple links from the web to get your weekend started!

+ You have to check out this Accidental Wes Anderson reddit - so many beautiful places and spaces that look right out of a WA film!

+ Is anything funnier than neural networks? Maybe, but I've been getting a kick out of them.

+ I've been listening to a lot of talks by Alain de Botton on YouTube lately - he's written a couple of books as well - he's a philosopher with a lot of great thoughts on love and success.

+ Just saw The Beguiled (movie review coming soon, perhaps?) but am really excited to see The Big Sick and Baby Driver. What movies are on your radar?        

I've always been curious about seeing a psychic. I hover in that in-between of belief and skepticism - I don't necessarily have any spiritual beliefs, I don't know if ghosts exist, but I have definitely felt energy before. I've had moments of sudden intuition in situations, I've felt energy (both good and bad) resonate from old places. So in a way, those seem connected to something beyond me. But mind reading or communicating with the dead always seemed a bit of a crock to me. 

I saw a palm reader once at a county fair who was obviously a fake because she asked me about my brothers who I do not have. I was just sort of hoping that she'd tell me what all the lines on my hand meant but she didn't seem to know - my own fault for going to someone at a county fair! So when I felt at a crossroads in life and wanted to see a psychic, I turned to trusty old Yelp.com. Really! I did! I found a psychic on Yelp. I know, these modern times are crazy. 

So why did I decide to see a psychic in the first place? 

Beyond curiosity, I felt like I was at a place in my life where I was turning the same issues and questions over and over in mind and it was to a place where none of my friends had anything constructive to offer and were frankly tired of having the same discussions with me again and again. I've done therapy before but the process of explaining to someone everything I've been through so they can understand how I got to where I'm at is tiring and slightly traumatic for me. I just liked the idea of going in cold and seeing what someone could offer me, without having to explain anything. 

I booked an appointment with Miss Renee online. She had nothing but positive reviews but the one that really hooked me was that she was kind and welcoming but also a straight shooter. I didn't want someone who was goofy or would tell me nonsense that sounded good. I had to send her my birth information (time, date, city) before I came so she could create a birth chart for the session. I drove up to North Portland on a sunny day and parked on a side street outside a little house. She instructed not to be more than 5 minutes early so I made sure to walk through the door exactly on time. I went down the stairs into the basement and into a little room where Miss Renee was sitting at a table smiling. Right away I felt comfortable with her - she was warm and welcoming and really funny from the get go. She did a sage smudging thing which is meant to cleanse your aura and then I selected a stone from the table to hold on to for the session. 

Miss Renee started with my birth chart and spent the majority of the reading telling me the positions of the planets and signs and how they affect my life and drive me as a person. And she got me spot on. I wasn't that surprised by much of the actual information, but the accuracy of how she read my fears and motivations from the birth chart impressed me. She didn't ask too many questions of me, just asked occasionally if what she had said made sense to me or sounded correct (all of which did). But not only did she give me information about who I am on the chart, she gave me information on how to avoid bad paths I was liable to go down and concrete things I could do to change. 

Here are a few examples of the things she told me that were right on the money:

+ I'm a workaholic (as indicated by Sun in Aries in the 6th house) and put immense pressure on myself, need "irons in the fire" at all times and am highly goal driven.
+ Don't know how to be satisfied or appreciate the efforts of my work.
+ Am self-sacrificial in relationships in an effort to hang on to them, become passive aggressive to avoid conflict. 
+ Loves a good underdog and am deeply enraged by seeing people treated unfairly, to the extreme that I'd make a good lawyer or advocate (something that I've thought about before).
+ Get easily frustrated if things don't happen in life immediately.
+ I show love for people by trying to help them "sort their shit out" but have a hard time letting them get close to me. 

I don't want to share everything she said, but these things were said without judgment and presented as areas of opportunity. You can't fix the problem until you directly recognize it and this reading helped to put down on paper things about myself that might be holding me back from the future I want. She didn't sugarcoat things either. She directly said that if I didn't regain balance in my workaholic area, I would be the kind of person who at 50 had an amazing career but was alone. And that is one of my biggest fears.

I came into the session with a primary focus - Miss Renee asked me at the start why I had come and what I was looking for help with. And I told her that I was starting to lose hope in love. This has been a very deep and painful thing for me recently and I was at a loss of what to do. At the end of the session, she had me ask one question to the Tarot card deck and feel for a card to answer that question. I asked a question about a future partner and the cards gave me a definite timeline. Am I putting all my faith in this prediction? No, but what it really did was give me back some hope. That someone else was able to look into my life and see the potential for love felt empowering. She told me that I had some work to do to open myself up and restructure how I've learned to love and be loved by people. Not easy work, but after this session, I felt so motivated and ready to start.

As for the timeline? Well, I'm going to keep that one to myself. She told me a little bit about what kind of person he could be as well, but I'm going to keep those cards close to my chest until the timeline passes and it did or didn't happen. We'll see. Maybe someday I'll be writing on here about how everything came true exactly how she said it. But even if it doesn't, the power of having someone you don't know understand your personality and tell you that as long as you make sure you've done the work to be ready, opportunities will come, was so worth it. 

(collage journal and photos by me!)