Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Feature: Inside My Closet
Organizing Accessories

Mr. Diabolina and I finally watched an episode the A&E show Hoarders. OMFG.

The woman featured went from being a stunning southern belle to using a toliet without running water...for 8 years. From a mother of two to accumulating EIGHT THOUSAND pounds of trash under which two cats had been dead and buried for decades. It was the foulest, most shocking thing I have ever seen.

Needless to say, the show has thrown this fashion hoarder into an organizing FRENZY. The last few months have been pretty stressful and I must admit that it's taken a toll on my closet. When you have as much stuff as I do it doesn't take very long for things to get messy. And I realized the last time I did a FULL re-organizing was January 2008. Have accumulated ALOT of dirty pretty things since then.

Happy to report I haven't found any dead cats or dead Forever 21 employees but I have uncovered lots of jewelry and lipsticks and scarves and even bags I'd forgotten about for months. Hoping to pull together a full closet video tour in the next few days too but here's a peak at how the accessories are shaping up.

Wishing you a very clean and fashionable New Year's Eve. I'll be knee deep in designer duds ;)

Started my accessory organizing how I build most of my outfits: with the shoes...the glorious, glorious shoes. I organize my shoes by color and style. I place the ones I use the most at eye level and the special sparkly occassion ones higher up. My "seasonal" shoes - sandals and boots - are off to the side.
I have acquired so many pairs since Mr. D had my closet built that I now need to stack them up just so. Boxes help contain the madness. Just barely.

Next I organized my scarves. When I do wardrobe consultations, I am always shocked at how piddly people's scarf collections are. Scarves are a simple, cost-effective way to infuse your wardrobe with personality and sophistication. Loved this Elle December 2009 spread on multiple creative ways to rock a single Hermes scarf. My favorite alternative to wearing them around your neck: tying them onto a bag.

Decided to stuff all the print ones I have into four shoe boxes and stacked them in our coat closet. This is a new system so we'll see if it works out. I am determined to wear these beauties more often in 2010.

Next came my bags. They occupy two shelves in the closet. I try to place all of them in dust bags and again organize them according to use. Every day purses on the bottom, clutches, beach and travel bags on top. I used to stack them horizontally but decided to change things up and stack them vertically since most are pretty slouchy or flat.

Finally I tackled my jewelry. I own exactly three pieces of fine jewelry - a ruby ring from my dad, a Tiffany Atlas ring from my mom and a Me & Ro necklace from Mr. Diabolina. The rest of my stuff is junk, junk that I love.

It's sprinkled all over the house but the majority of it is in my bathroom stacked in a Marc Jacobs perfume box. Mr. D was getting rid of a tool kit seperator thingie so I took that and fashioned it into something for a girl. Kept my chunky bangles in part of the Marc box.

Got a necklace tree thing at Urban Outfitters this year. It's really supposed to be for a dainty girl with delicate necklaces not a large and in charge Diabolina with statement ones. Sigh. Decided to create even more of an eye sore by adding my headbands into the mix. I have acquired a collection that would make even Blair Waldorf jeally.

Luckily I haven't been feeling so bad about my overflowing jewelry after watching the very revealing, Lagerfeld Confidential. In the first scene of the documentary, the Kaiser is packing for a trip. His chunky rings are stacked on a looooong bureau in dozens of overflowing bowls. And he's got drawers and drawers of identical looking white collars. Makes my accessories situation look like child's play.
Karl saves the day again by normalizing fashion OCD tendencies. Phew.



Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ugly Sweater Party Costumes

New Feature: Costumes Make Life Better

In honor of Christmas Eve, I wanted to share some photos from my first ever Ugly Christmas Sweater party a few weeks ago. Behold and revel in the holiday wrongness. While other friends went to Aardvark's or aahs! to get their Christmas fug on, I simply raided my mom's closet.

Yes, she actually wore this sweater every Christmas. Seems like all the pictures of her wearing it have mysteriously gone missing. Hmmmm.

Apparently, it cost a pretty penny at Neiman's back in the 80s. All I know is that just the sight of it used to make me giddy; meant presents were headed my way. Fa la la la la indeed ;)

I would only don such hideousness in public for one person: Lauragami. She is one of those magical people that commits to costumes - (REINDEER ANTLER) HEAD TO (SANTA LOVING) TOE!

We plotted our outfits days in advance and agreed on one must: red lips. We are obsessed with them lately even though we're both historically nude lipgloss kinda girls.

Figured tonight would be a good night to give bold lips a whirl. No one was going to be pointing at our lips and laughing with all these Santa's little helpers around.

Mr. Diabolina, agahst at my sweater, opted to keep things simple. Slapped on a big red bow. Yum. Most delish present I ever got.

But wouldn't you know that tonight of all nights when I'm dressed like a hot mess, I meet one of my newest idols: THE Easy Tone Reebok girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You know the one with the FABULOUS tush in that commercial, the one that makes you want to buy those damn shoes if they make you look half as hot as she does. I was just tweeting about her.

I was seriously SUPER DUPER star struck. We're talking meeting Phillip Lim excited. Thankfully, like any friend of Lauragami's, she just happened to be cool and funny and self-effacing and lovely.

Not only is she a fellow brown sista but she rocks at karaoke. Ugh! Aaaaaaaaaadore meeting BFDs (big fucking deals.)

And love me some aahs! Stopped there and picked up Mr. D's big bow. I also grabbed this jingle bell necklace.

When my mom came home from the hospital last week, I had the ingenious idea to put it by her bed so that she could let me know whenever she needed anything. Happy to report that she hasn't abused it.

And that tonight, after a dinner of tamales and beans and coffee cake and Harry and David pears, we ventured out. Walked around The Grove and caught a showing of Young Victoria. Another week and she should be back to normal.

I wish you and your family a happy, healthy and hilarious holiday.

And for myself, I hope that Santa forgets what a finicky, uppity little bitch I was all those times I didn't want to sit on his lap. Ugh. Children like me make the baby Jesus cry.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why I Heart L.A.
Access to the best healthcare.

Last Monday morning, my mother's neurosurgeon walked into her room before surgery and asked "How are you?" She responded with a single word, "Ready."

I couldn't have agreed more.

The last month leading up to the surgery has been an emotional put it mildly. My mom has fluctuated from denial to anger to depression - sometimes all within the same exhausting day. As her only daughter and only immediate family member in L.A., I've had a front row seat. I've been the one holding her hand as she struggled with an array of crippling fears.

Her greatest one has never been death. No, what kept her up at night was the thought of surviving the operation but losing her memory or hearing or vision or use of her limbs or all of the above. One day she crumbled in my arms after uttering the words, "I just don't want to ever be a burden to you." The day I had to review her will, instructing me to make the "do not resuscitate" decision, was probably the most surreal of my life.

I never expected this process to be quite so hard. After all, my mother is the strongest person I know. The things that woman has overcome in her life...well, I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy. Her story has never been one marked by neat, happy endings; it has been one defined by endurance and survival instinct. To me, her story has always been proof of the magnificent resillience of the human spirit, proof that what doesn't break us does truly make us stronger.

That's why, despite her tiny frame, she has always seemed larger than life to me. And yet during the last month, she has seemed so fragile, so a beautiful little china doll that could break at any moment. It's been heartwrenching in ways that I haven't even begun to metabolize.

Then about a week before the surgery things seemed to shift. She seemed to surrender and embrace acceptance. And just like that the fear retracted. She stood a little taller, a little bolder every time I saw her. As if she was ready to face the unknown with everything in her. Sure, there were still the moments of tears and fears but overall she had a serenity about her that was reassuring. I recognized her again.

As I struggled to fall asleep the night before her surgery, I felt a calmness wash over me. I felt confident that everything would be fine. She was in the best hands. And I suddenly remembered: she is a lioness, always has been, always will be. This wouldn't be the thing that beat her.

The morning of the surgery we walked into Saint John's ready, ready to get this done and move on with our story.

We took it as a good omen that her surgery coincided with the opening day of the new wing of the hospital. Everything was pristine and the staff was giddy. Excellent energy to walk into. Didn't feel like a hospital at all. There was promise, not fear in the air.

Another source of great strength: Mr. Diabolina. He is a blue-eyed blessing. Not sure my mother or I could have made it through all this with out him. His unwavering love and constant devotion to the two of us - no matter how witchy we are - is humbling. And his decision at 4:00 am to put on a suit for my mom's surgery day equals hilarity ;)

Not sure how the two of us made it through the five torturous hours that my mom was in surgery. Quiet time in the hospital's new chapel, Wi Fi in the beautiful new cafeteria and lots of piglet snacks helped.

As we were waiting, we even peeped the man who made the $100 million gift for the new wing of the hospital. He was taking a tour and graciously speaking with patients and staff. Felt like hugging him and thanking him for making a difficult day easier with a beautiful new facility.

At about 1 p.m. my mother's surgeon Dr. Daniel Kelly and his team finally appeared and scanned the cafeteria for me. I stood up just as they saw me. Their faces were so expressionless that I felt my legs buckle underneath me and I grabbed the table to steady myself. Thankfully their words were more comforting than their faces. They said the operation had gone perfectly and they were able to remove the entire tumor and that it looked largely calcified which was consistent with a meningioma not cancer.

For the first time that morning I exhaled. And I allowed myself to cry. I thanked them profusely. And as I looked into Dr. Kelly's kind eyes I thought what a gift doctors have to be able to help people at their most vulnerable, most human moments.

It was another two hours before we could see my mom in the ICU. The first thing I noticed was that adorable side ponytail. Have never been happier to see her open her eyes and talk and hold my hand and wiggle her toes. Was even happier when she asked me to take her picture. Before the surgery, she had said she wanted me to document all of this, to share her story on the blog, to give other mothers and daughters strength during tough moments.

During the following 24 hours there were plenty of tough moments. I spent the night in her room on the windowsill but barely slept. She was up every few hours vomitting from the pain. Throwing up is awful enough but imagine how awful it is after brain surgery with all the pressure that puts on your head. Ugh.

On Tuesday, they moved us out of the ICU and she had a parade of visitors and flowers. She was able to sit up and walk to the bathroom and change into the matching Paul Frank jammies we bought at Target on Sunday. I went home for a few hours while Mr. D stayed with her. Felt incredible to shower and nap in my own bed after 40 hours at the hospital.

Tuesday night unfortunately wasn't much easier than the first night after the surgery. My mom was in so much pain that they kept giving her morphine which kept making her sick. Vicious maddening cycle.
The nurses at Saint John's were amazing both nights. Talk about unsung heroes. But it's important to note they were mostly amazing because I kindly but forcibly demanded that they be. If I wasn't there with my mom, they just wouldn't have been as attentive or known exactly when she needed something. She would have thrown up on herself all night, writhing in pain. She would have been like other patients moaning for help in the darkness.

Wednesday morning finally came (never been more thrilled to see the sun rise) and we spent most of the day quietly awaiting her surgeon's arrival. Her general doctor had given the OK for my mom to go home so it was up to Dr. Kelly to look at the incision and make the call. Thankfully, he removed her bandage and tested some motor skills and said she was progressing amazingly well. She was discharged and out the door by 5 pm. We'd arrived for her crainiotomy at 5 am on Monday. Isn't that bananas?

We've been home for almost a week now and her recovery is coming along, slowly but surely. She can't walk too fast but she can sure eat fast. We've been doing quite a bit of soup and oatmeal snarfing along with watching DVDs, online shopping and napping. She's been telling me stories from her childhood and we've been making plans for the future.

I'm still processing everything that's happened, hope to write about it all more eloquently in the near future but just wanted to share a quick update with you - friends and strangers alike. Wanted to let you all know that this Christmas my mother and I are grateful for the support you've all given us over the past year. Thank you and kiss you and happy holidays to you and your family.


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