Printed Matter at LA Art Book Fair 2014

LA Art Book Fair

Literacy is making a comeback! Over the weekend I stopped by the LA Art Book Fair at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, an event presented by Printed Matter, Inc. If you haven’t heard of this major literary fair or aren’t too familiar with book fairs overall, it’s a “unique event for artists’ books, art catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines presented by over 250 international presses, booksellers, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers.” Basically what that means is that it’s awesome and you must try to go someday, or visit something similar if at all possible. This year was only the second annual fair here in Los Angeles, but the turn out was HUGE for such a young event in the city. Take a look at the photo below to get an idea of what it looked like.

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This room was only one of MANY in the multi-level massive exhibition gallery called the Ooga Booga space. If you are a book lover–and I’m assuming you love not only Lisi’s addicting page-turners but a few other titles as well–you would absolutely love this event. Especially if you’re the type that doesn’t always want to succumb to the e-book and kindle movement, this book fair reminds us just how special tactile treasures really are. There were so many amazing souvenirs for collectors to take home from vintage records, comic books, photography books, journals, handmade letterpress stationary, bags, paintings, zines, and of course, books. There were also some pretty fantastic stickers to take home like the one found below.

Duh.

The fair housed hundreds of tables from independent publishers from around the world. The two photos below are from Aye Aye Books, a Glasgow-based bookshop and publisher. The girl who ran this table was so incredibly kind, stylish and oh-so Scottish. Really I would have purchased anything she told me to, her accent made each book sound THAT interesting. I walked away with a little book titled “Them” that held three short stories by Francesca Mirabella and came in a handmade envelope with a handwritten message from the author herself. Such a gem.

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The next table we stopped at had all kinds of wonderful pieces. Notecards, photography prints, and posters of beautiful gemstones and natural elements. I got to meet the artist, who wore one of those Barmah bush hats, making him look like a legitimate explorer from down undue’. SOLD.

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They were also the sellers of Afterzine, which is literally one of my very favorite zines (though it’s pretty substantial, so more like a thin book). Contributions from the likes of notable people such as Alexa Chung and Rookie Mag’s Tavi Gavinson have even been included in past issues. Needles to say, I picked up Issue 3 pictured below.

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More zines upon books upon zines!

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A super cool magazine featuring girl motorcyclists around Los Angeles.

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If reading’s not your thing, then that’s kinda strange, but the book fair’s still got you covered. You could gaze at and often take home creative paintings, photography and collage work, like some pieces seen below.

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Book fair VIPs probably put down a pretty penny to take home these original prints of Blondie’s Debbie Harry from way back when.

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No money? No problem. There was a makeshift ever-growing area in one corner where people were starting to barter for books. 🙂

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Another look at the book fair, just 1/25 of the maze of a layout when the crowd was winding down. Still crazy though!

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The best part about this year’s fair was all of the surprising points of creativity that popped up around each corner. If there was space on a wall and it was around eye level, it was filled with art, micro stories, drawings, and funny or thoughtful messages. It wasn’t possible to leave the Ooga Booga space feeling  uninspired. I couldn’t help but feel a little more hopeful than usual for the literary community here in LA on a whole. In fact, it almost felt a little like the cute message tacked up on a wall that’s pictured below.

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The LA Art Book Fair is the companion to the NY Art Book Fair that is held every fall and apparently MUCH larger than even ours here in Los Angeles. If you are ever out on either coast in the U.S. sometime in the future, it’s a must-attend event for all bibliophiles out there. I know not everyone can hop a private jet out to NY or LA on a whim and make that happen any time soon, but it’s food for future thought in the meantime. Thank you guys for reading today and letting me share a bit of my excitement that’s spilled over from the weekend with you. And if in your hometowns there are any cool book or zine related events you know of, please pass the info along in the comments section! I’d love to keep discovering similar literary happenings not just in the U.S., but beyond.

As always, Lisi will be back next week after she returns home from Mexico. Stay tuned.

xx

Alisha, Office Elf, over & out

How to get Relationship Ready for Spring

Spring is a time for new beginnings, new crushes and for some, new or perhaps first, relationships. Since we’ve just broken into December, that means you’ve still got PLENTY of time to get yourself relationship ready so you’ll be primed for any romantic opportunity that might come your way. You might think you’re all systems go for a relationship NOW, but be sure the check-list below is in place first and keep yourself on track with it this winter.

1) Don’t be THAT girl. You know the one I’m talking about. The girl who completely devotes all of her time and energy into winning a guy’s attention and affection; the girl who wishes all fall for a boyfriend by Christmas (or Hanukkah). The girl who ditches out on friends the moment a guy comes into view or the girl who stresses every second about each outfit a crush might see her in, what his glance might have meant, whether or not he finds her cute enough, skinny enough, smart enough, funny enough. Don’t let somebody else dictate your desirability or leave you feeling less than enough, and DO NOT spend all day on Tumblr and Facebook trolling for clues about your crush’s true feelings for you or anyone else.

If you’re anywhere between middle school and university right now, odds are you’ve crossed paths with the pressure and desire to get yourself a girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s natural to want to experience love and coupledom at some point, but it’s simply one of those trite truths in life that you will become 100% more attractive to everyone around you the minute you answer only to your own standards of self, and not someone else’s. I’ve personally succumb to this in my life, as I know many others have too, but daydreaming the hours away about your crush, wishing he or she would just finally come to their senses and love you back, and putting all of your focus on him or her is time that could have been spent developing yourself, watching awesome movies, implementing a workout routine, winning gold medals, starting a band, seeing friends, reading Lisi’s books… And BONUS: your future boyfriend will find you exponentially more attractive if you’re someone who has her own interests and priorities in check. It’s like magic, promise. I know, I know–it’s incredibly hard with so much out there telling you what to look like [SPOILER ALERT: EVERYTHING is photoshopped and even plus sized models don’t get to be plus sized anymore], what to care about, how to live your life, how to “get the guy,” etc., but your inner self knows what’s right for you, what your true passions are, and how to keep following them on your personal path. Playing games and fitting an arbitrary mold have nothing to do with that, so live to make yourself proud, first and foremost. Harder said than done, but practice makes (almost) perfect. Onto #2.

2) Now that you’re excelling in NOT being the type of person consumed by being in a relationship, odds are you’ll have a lot more time and energy on your  hands, as well as happiness. Now’s the time to get to work on yourself. What if you don’t know yourself all that well yet and are still figuring it out? Then it’s even more important for you to try out new hobbies, read various kinds of books, listen to music you’d never think you’d like, spend nights in, stay out late, be the best friend you can be to those already in your life. Over the next few months, get some quality ‘you’ time in and take yourself to all the places you’ve been wanting to go but didn’t have a crush to go with. Want to hit that cute bookstore/coffee house for an afternoon? Make it a self date, bring your copy of Pretenders and go. Really been dying to get to a theme park lately? Grab a couple of your best girlfriends and keep it no crushes allowed. Wanting to learn how to paint or make DIY journals? Find a weekend class in your area and make it an art date for the self. Create memories and experiences for yourself and learn what’s important to you. What makes you who you are? What are the things you love most and why?

3) Prep yourself by lowering fairy tale expectations. This doesn’t mean to expect the worst in all situations or to truly not expect anything at all, but to add a dash of realism on the romance front. We all want what those lucky lovers get at the end of movies: to live happily ever after. But the thing about that is, it’s fiction. Somebody, or sometimes many somebodies, sat in a room and wrote a story about two people who overcame odds to find and love each other. And it was born form their collective imaginations, as well as the expectations of their audience who WANT the lovers to have fate on their side. Truth is, it is REALLY difficult for two people to get along over a long period of time no matter how twitterpated they were at the start, especially when normal life comes into play and the excitement of a new relationship wears off. When you do experience a long-term relationship, you might have days of serious doubt, moments of wondering if you’re with the right person or if it’s working, jealousies will arise, bickering and fights over silly stuff you never thought could come between two people who love each other. You may even find out you’re simply too different–or too alike. Your own insecurities also tend to come up when you’re starting a new relationship or are becoming even more intimately bonded. Trust is hard for most and we all carry our own pains and baggage from the lives we’ve led up until the point of our relationship. I don’t want to dash all of your dreams here. There will very well also be moments you share that seem plucked straight from your favorite rom-com, so romantic and so written in the stars, how could fairy tales not be real? But happy endings don’t all look the same and we must be ready and willing to take the great and the not so great, and even the downright  boring. The times when loving your boyfriend or girlfriend is easy, as well as the times when it’s the last thing you can bring yourself to do. We must also keep in mind that sometimes the crush we had our heart set on for so long in school might not have been the best fit for us after all, and maybe it’s best to shift into friend zone. Knowing when to walk away with grace instead of holding onto something that isn’t working or doesn’t make you feel happy and loved is a tough lesson, but one you’ll certainly learn throughout your love experiences. So stay open and consider #3 while you’re still flying solo, and even keep it in mind once you’re attached. Be willing to experience your future relationship in whatever shape and color it develops into, and then see if it works for you and is the kind of love you want. Give yourself and your someday-love the benefit of the doubt, for they too are human and doing the best they can each day, just like you.

4) Get busy moving. This will not only occupy your mind and keep you from drowning in thoughts of unrequited love, it will also keep you healthy and feeling confident throughout the winter holidays that necessitate binging on 5 lbs. of pastries per event. Exercise is essential not only for heart health, but also for your brain. It will help you keep a clear head and be able to see situations more calmly and logically when the hormones of crush-love come pulsating through your body. Of course, becoming or staying active is pretty difficult to do throughout the winter months when cuddling up in pj’s on the couch seems to be more in order. You’ll want to feel healthy and strong come spring when the sun is shining again so my advice is to make a pact with yourself to get your body moving at least 2-3 times per week. If all you can muster is a speed walking session with your grandma, then so be it, but try to get some outdoor ‘play’ time in if at all possible. Bring your dog and a friend on an easy hike and make an afternoon of it, or try dancing like nobody’s watching for 15 minutes straight and get your cardio in without even realizing it.

5) Find what makes you weirdest and let those qualities become what you love most about yourself. We are all so, so weird inside. Really. Some of us are just better at pretending we’re less weird than others. This really is a disservice overall because we forget how amazing our quirky ways really are and sometimes even become ashamed of our unique parts, and try to conform to what is most accepted, or visible, around us. Below is one of my favorite stories ever by Shel Silverstein. It illustrates my point perfectly. 

masks

Wouldn’t it be so much easier, not to mention so much better, to simply find the kind of romantic mate that works best with all of your unique edges that make you YOU? We spend a lot of time dressing ourselves up just to get closer to someone so we can remove our walls one onion layer at a time, and THEN see if our true selves work together. I’m not advocating putting it ALL out there 24/7 and making our personal lives public to the world or letting our issues become everybody else’s problem, but I am saying you will find the right people to crush on, and they will find you in return, if you are doing your best to be your authentic self. Again, also so much harder to accomplish than to suggest. It takes real courage to do this, and it’s going to be a struggle, but each and every one of you are so much stronger than you can imagine, so I know it’s possible for all of you. One day soon, you will see it for yourselves. Each time you practice authenticity of your amazingly wondrous perfect self, you’ll feel a little brighter, a little stronger, a little more able to love another the way you’d like to be loved, and that energy will come back your way ten fold. Promise.

And don’t forget: if by spring no such romantic interest is on the horizon, it doesn’t mean it will never happen for you. It just means your future love might still be masking his blue, and you’ll have to be a little patient until he can catch up with your awesome personal evolution. 😉 In the meantime, you’ve still got this:

As usual, Lisi will be back next week with another amazing post for you. Thanks for stopping by the Office Elf blog and happy holidays to all!

xx

Alisha

Summer Sickness Survival Guide

Sick Day

I can’t say staying home sick is never fun since I recall plenty of grade school sick days filled with popsicles and cartoons while my friends at school were learning about mitochondria and solving for X. But in the summer, there are few boring academic obligations to avoid, and instead you’re missing out on the good times you could be having with your friends out in the sunshine, at the beach, park, or wherever you go to celebrate freedom from class. It’s a total bust. Summertime sickness isn’t great for me either even though I’ve long been out of school. I, very fortunately, get to work from home except for when I meet with Lisi to discuss our on-going projects, so I get to keep my pj’s on all day if I feel like it. This week, I definitely felt like it, as a head cold knocked me down out of nowhere. I’m no stranger to summer sick days and have honed a few methods of coping with not feeling so hot in the heat. Below are five tactics to combat your cold fast so you can get back outside with your friends for the dwindling days of summer. Or in my case, back to my usual fast-paced brain that can handle more than one task at a time.

Healthy Water

1. Keep hydrated at all costs! One of the best things you can do for yourself while sick, or even when you’re not, is to drink as much H2O as possible. At least 64 ounces if you can manage it, but that’s pretty difficult, even for me, so do what you can. The water flushes your system of toxins and impurities, which is great for your skin and immune system. If you still happen to find yourself under the weather, like I have, then getting fluids in early will surely help curb the duration of your cold. There are other drinks like VitaminWater Zero and Pedialyte that are packed with Vitamin C, electrolytes and other benefits to get you hydrated and ultimately back on your feet, too, and they have a hint of flavor that might be easier to drink.

2. Zinc it up early. Taking Zinc at the start of a cold has been proven to sometimes lower the duration of an illness by 50%. I have these fantastic Zinc/Vitamin C effervescent tabs I dissolve in water and drink, but you will have to talk to your parents about this one and how much will be right for your age, and which method will be best for your to take.

sick as a yorkshire terrier

3. Give your pet a pat. Whether you have a pup, cat, parakeet or chinchilla, make sure you don’t forget that they need their daily dose of love, too. Be sure to pet or play with them throughout the time you are sick. While you’re doing that, you’ll be elevating levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, which calm and relax and prime your body for healing mode.

4. Treat yourself right. Your parents have more of a say in this than I do, but when I’m sick, I like to make sure I feel good in my environment by buying lots of treats my sick body wants, such as popsicles and pre-cut fruit bowls, and anything else good for me that doesn’t contain dairy (dairy is terrible for congestion issues, so no milk if you can help it while you’re feeling ill). And if you have the energy left, you may want to combine those good-for-you treats into one like I plan to do for my next head cold.  See: YUM.

Popsicles

5. Make your bed and then lay in it. Another great way to keep your cold at bay is to keep washing your bedding and sheets throughout your sickness, every day if possible. It seems like a hassle, but will help stop the spread of germs that will keep you sick for longer. Also be sure to pay attention to how you are laying in your bed. If you have a sore throat, cough, stuffy nose or chest congestion issues, laying flat on your bed will only worsen your symptoms, so try propping yourself up on a few pillows. Even a slight incline will be better for your than laying completely flat, so as a rule of thumb, be sure your heart is higher than your ankles and you should be good to go. Lastly, and most obviously, REST, REST, REST.  All healing requires extra sleep. It’s no fun, but you really have to take this step seriously. Sleeping a sickness out is one of the fastest ways I’ve seen a person get back to their usual healthy selves. If you have work or summer school and can’t sleep during the day, then make sure you’re getting to bed as early as possible at night. And I mean EARLY–like 9PM early. For any night owls out there, you’ll have to break your usual after-midnight sleeping ritual because going to bed after 12 isn’t going to help your cause. In fact, the hours before midnight are actually twice and sometimes three times more restful and beneficial to you than the hours you sleep after midnight. So get to bed very early, at least while you’re fighting off a cold.

That’s it! Those simple steps will set you en route to good health. If you have any more, please include them in the comments below. I’m still battling my cold and will be checking back to see if any of you have some tried-and-true tips I can try for myself. Thanks for reading and Lisi will be back next week!

xx

Alisha

Prep Talk

Class Picture

This is the time of year when all of your favorite magazines and blog posts have been highjacked by back-to-school know-how. I’ve been flipping through some magazines and reading about a whole lot of bad advice getting dished out to young girls and guys about how to approach the first day of school so that it’s absolutely perfect. Since Lisi asked me to guest post today (she was extremely busy today with back-to-back press interviews for Pretenders :)), I figured this would be a good time to run down a few of what I believe to be the top prep issues to get out of the way before your big first day at school.

1. Brush the dust off the old alarm clock. Maybe it’s been a while since last you needed to use it. If it has, then be sure you try it out for a couple of days leading up to school’s start so there won’t be any accidental malfunctions. The last thing you’ll need on your first day is to feel behind schedule as you run late to homeroom. And for Pete’s sake! Don’t forget to switch the PM to AM on the setting!

Snooze

2. Wear comfortable shoes. For a lot of people, the first day of school is like a fashion show with everybody presenting the best of what they’ve got, showcasing their ah-mazing style to their peers. My junior high wasn’t so much that way, but high school definitely was. Tons of girls came on the first day in sky-high heels, but sometime after lunch, I’d either watch them hobbling out to the parking lot to be picked up by parents, or they had abandoned their heels altogether (which isn’t permissible at school since you need to be wearing footwear). Now I’m not suggesting you get your mom’s Aerosoles loafers and attach them to your stylish first-day-of-school outfit, but do make sure whatever you put on your feet won’t be killing you by late afternoon. Unless you’re one of those heels masters, which I definitely am NOT, leave the stilettos for Friday night.

No heels

 

3. Don’t declare your style. I’m reading all of these articles in teen magazines about how you need to “declare your style” as soon as school starts, starting with the perfect first-day-of-school outfit. I don’t buy it. In my experience, declaring anything in certainty is one of the worst ways you can back yourself into a corner and stop experimenting and exploring with who you really are. So don’t declare a thing. Just do, or be. Wear whatever you want to wear, within reason, of course. It doesn’t hurt to be on trend in one area or another, but by no means should you hold those trends as the almighty rule book for what’s acceptable of you.  Junior and high school are times when you’re supposed to wear weird stuff that adults find questionable, or experiment with different personas until you find which one fits, or which one is undeniable ‘you.’ Some of us don’t find that for decades until we’ve already left school behind, and some of us simply follow what the trends say we should wear because it’s so much easier than finding our own personal take on style. If that’s you, that’s fine, as well, but if you’re someone who enjoys expressing an aspect of who you are through what you creatively wear, then go ahead and experiment, experiment, experiment. There’s really no reason not to. And if you’re low on funds to do it, don’t fret. Some of the best dressed, most unique people I know shop solely from thrift stores. Dollar sale, anyone? The last word I’ll say on first-day-of-school outfits is that you definitely should have it ready a few days before classes begin. In my younger years, I systematically had freak outs each first day of school from kindergarten through my senior year (silly, I know) because of outfit mishaps right before I needed to leave my house. Be sure to have your outfit ready and possibly laid out to save you enough time in the morning to eat some breakfast with the ‘rents.

Wear it well Experiment with fashion

 

4. Backpack perfection. I am not a huge fan of the word perfect, so I’m not loving all of the advice I’m reading in blogs about how to make your first day as such, but having a great backpack really does skyrocket your day into perfectdom. Sometimes we get a bag that is stylish and cool, but not functional at all and it leaves our backs feeling broken, if not on the first day, definitely by the end of the term. There are so many awesome backpacks these days by every designer under the sun, and many are affordable without sacrificing the cool factor. Here’s something I found in Teen Vogue and they got it exactly right: the top 100 backpacks for back-to-school. Peruse the slideshow here to find your favorite. I’m going to take a class just to have an excuse to buy a new backpack, and I’ll probably get any and all of the ones that look like they are made for boys.

Backpack perfection

5. Know where your classes are before school starts. This is advice I wish I could tell my past self since I never once tried to find my classes before the moment I needed to be in my seat. I always just assumed I’d be able to find them easily, or that I had a pretty good idea where I needed to go. Don’t under-estimate how long it takes you to navigate a new campus. Even if you’re a high school senior or are in college and have experienced your fair share of first days, sometimes there’s a class that is in the boondocks and running to it against the clock can cause serious stress, not to mention forehead sweat and everybody knows the omnipotent rule in school: NEVER let them see you sweat. Just kidding. (Kinda.) Seriously, sweating in school is the worst. And if all of this advice fails, what you’ll ultimately need is a back-up emergency plan with a good friend to escape the horror of your first day. Maybe you can agree to meet at so-and-so’s locker between 3rd and 4th period to reconvene on the day and pump each other up as needed; or maybe you can drop off notes to each other in a well-concealed way. Remember notes? The original text messaging.

Original Text Messaging

 

So that’s it. All you need is a working alarm clock,  a comfortable backpack or tote as well as shoes, an outfit ready days before the first day of school, a map to your classes, and, if possible, an emergency escape plan with a friend midday just in case the whole day turns out wrong. If you can get those few things in order then you’ll be well on your way to a fantastic first day of class, and you can get back to the dwindling days of summer before the sun goes down on the last one. If you think there’s something I missed or you have your own essential preps, feel free to leave it in the comments. Now forget this post! Go out and try some of the fun, quintessentially summer suggestions detailed in the illustration below.

Rookie Mag Illustration by Allegra

Rookie Mag Illustration by Allegra

xx,

Alisha, Office Elf

To Beach or Not to Beach

That is my question for tomorrow in celebration of Independence Day. We’re already into July with the summer quickly passing and I haven’t been to the beach once. Actually, I haven’t been in literally years. It’s been so long since I’ve been, in fact, that my brain is fantasizing that the whole day will look something like this:

Summer Paradise

Looks nice, doesn’t it?

And that getting there will be as simple as everybody jumping in the car, turning the music up and letting wind blow through our hair.

Windy GIF

Then it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the water’s edge.

GIF me beach

LetsPartaaayyy GIF

The perfect day. But one small detail is always overlooked and this year, I’m keeping it in mind and sharing the beach wisdom with you: I’m not the only one to think it’s a perfect day to hit the beach.

Try getting on the road on the 4th of July. Actually, don’t. It’s not safe–there are too many cars out. And that’s exactly the issue. By the time we’d be done fighting traffic, inching our way to the parking lots over the span of an hour, inevitably the price for parking will have skyrocketed for yet another year. And you better have cash on you or else you’re ousted from the line (Who carries cash these days? I forget every year).

Poor GIF

Getting down to the sand and enjoying a day by the ocean is not nearly as simply as it seems. But once you’re there, all you need to do is find that perfect spot. You know, the one that’s always waiting for you right there by the lifeguard tower, looking like it’s just been manicured by a zen garden raker. Right? Wrong. Nobody saves your spot at the beach.

Craziness

It’s every man, woman child for themselves.

too-many-people

And for crying out loud, don’t forget your SPF 30+!

Lily White Skin GIF

I’ve just completely talked myself out of a beach day tomorrow by writing this post. I think the GIFs helped. So if you’re bummed you won’t be making it to the ocean or even by a pool tomorrow, worry not for you won’t be missing out on much more than one huge headache and a shoulder sunburn. Stay inside with the AC, kids, and enjoy grandma’s famous tofurkey dog. Or your mom’s ice cold fruit punch–whatever your relatives are known for that can be consumed in celebration of the United States’ independence.

On a different note, I have a few things Lisi just emailed me about to share with you all. First off, she held a mini contest on her Facebook yesterday. Don’t worry if you missed it; it was only up since the afternoon. If you didn’t see the post because you haven’t “liked” Lisi on Facebook yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! There’s a Like button on the righthand side of this page. Go! Go! Go! And get updates from Lisi herself. BUT, if you DID see the post, you noticed the fill-in-the-blank message stating: “I change the world by ____.” You were asked to fill in that spot with whatever your heart had to say and the best response would win a special shout out from Lisi today. You can check Lisi’s Blah-g to see who won, but I can tell you right now that the winner had a fantastic answer!

Second big news you might want to know about is a Gracelet name change. I know, I know–I loved the name Gracelet, too. Book one was just about to go to print and someone said Gracelets already exist. Lisi thought she made it up, but turns out it’s a trademarked name which would be like one of Lisi’s characters making up a soda name called Coke. Lisi said this to me earlier: “I would have been hunted down and dragged to court. With minutes to spare I came up with S.W.A.P. — Sealed With A Promise. You whisper a wish inside the envelope and seal it shut. Open it, set it free and make another wish. The design will stay the same. So will the color choices you voted on two weeks ago.”

So there you have it. Seal with a promise and then S.W.A.P. with friends. Personally, I can’t wait to get my own after seeing the final color options. Lisi will be blah-gging again soon and will definitely keep you all updated on anything S.W.A.P. related and when you can get yours to start SWAPing.

For everybody in the U.S., have a safe and merry 4th of July! And for everybody else, have a safe and merry Thursday! Lisi will be back next week.

xx

Alisha

Making A List And Checking It Twice

To my chagrin, my birthday is just around the corner. I’ll admit I am not one of those huge birthday fans when it comes to celebrating my own. Everyone else’s? Yes please. But there’s simply something awkward about being the center of attention for an entire night. I always end up running around trying to make sure everyone’s having a good time and that my varied groups of friends are all getting along and nobody’s feeling left out. It ends up being a chore rather than a relaxing celebration. So I had it in mind that I would keep any celebration this year extremely low key… So low key, perhaps I’d make the celebration non-existent. Until my best friend Michelle twisted my arm to have at least a small party to celebrate.

Baby BeeBee?

(This looks like it could be a baby BeeBee, doesn’t it??) Random Internet find #4,762

“Just invite your BEST, best friends,” she said. “Keeping it really small will make it a fun night so you won’t feel stressed. You can just focus on those who really matter.”

So I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. Who knew this year would be a birthday full of soul-searching? What do I consider the top qualities that dictate who my true friends are? My BEST, best friends, as Michelle puts it. The ones who never let me down and always make me feel loved, or at least try to. Not the periphery characters who call themselves friends, but only touch base on Facebook or are constantly checking their Instagram likes, looking distracted in the middle of a conversation.

I’m keeping this list simple, but I think I’ve narrowed the necessities down to the Top 3 qualities of a true friend. Let me know what I’ve missed in the comments section if you have a Top List of your own.

1. Friendly Support

There’s something called “friendly competition.” I don’t think there’s a place for it at all amongst great friends. We should treat each other like sisters and not like foes, no matter how “friendly” we label our conduct. Does your friend support you in the things she says? Does she make supportive comments that bolster your self-esteem, rather than tear it down? It seems obvious that we should and would never have friends in our lives who make us question our worth or cause us to doubt our abilities, but it is more common than one might think to have at least one of these Debbie Downers flying under the radar in our circle of friends. A true friend communicates with you in an encouraging and compassionate way–not with back-handed statements or pessimistic, not-so-helpful opinions guised as genuine advice.

2. Loving Ears

How simple is the mere act of listening to a friend? So simple and yet it does wonders for maintaining your connection and for the evolution of your friendship. It’s rarer than it seems to find a friend who truly listens to you and makes an effort to really hear what you’re saying, instead of simply waiting for the moment they can get the conversation back onto themselves. A true friend seeks understanding instead of leaping to assumptions about what they think you’re saying. A good friend also keeps it in mind to open up the conversation so you’re each talking about the same amount of time, instead of one person always taking center stage.

3. Making An Effort

Does your friend remember what you’ve said to her, especially if it’s important, and keep you in mind throughout the week? It gets difficult as we get older to maintain best friendships because you’re no longer seeing friends everyday at school, at clubs or at practices. Instead, you have to mark it on your calendar and make an effort to cultivate friendships so they don’t drift into the ether. A good friend is reminded of you randomly and doesn’t let too much time slip by before checking in or asking to hang out or catch up. They fit each other into their busy schedules, no matter what it takes. If it can only be for a quick cup of coffee or a Skype date, then so be it, but a good friend will make it happen. And on occasion true friends will put aside a lot more time for you so new great memories can be created with each other.

Thinking about all this, I now have my list of BEST, best friends. It’s a short list, but the few are worth many and are all people I love and can count on for all times. Who would be on your list and how would you decide what makes a true friend?

Thanks for reading, everyone. 🙂 Lisi will be back next week with another ah-mazing Blah-g post.

x x

Fangirling for Gatsby

Which Gatsby’s Greater?

I’m listening to The Great Gatsby soundtrack as I write this, wishing I could be watching the movie a second time through instead of singing along with Lana Del Rey. I saw it over the weekend and still can’t get Baz Luhrmann’s fantastical interpretation of  Jay Gatsby’s decadent world out of my head. I’ll confess that 70% of me wasn’t anticipating to love or even like it as much as I did. Partly because I tend to be a bit protective over original versions and classic novels that get adapted into films, and partly because of all the canonical books I read as an English Lit major in college, The Great Gatsby was so distinctly my least favorite. I couldn’t wait to get to the last page so I never had to read about that stupid green light EVER. AGAIN. Several of my professors shared the sentiment and class after class, Fitzgerald’s “magnum opus” was the butt of every nerdy literary joke.

Gatsby

A few minutes into the movie and I knew I needed to run home after and re-read the book. I didn’t want to exit the magical world the movie had propelled me into. I wondered, is the movie by far better than the novel? Did I really dislike The Great Gatsby so much all those years ago? Or did I simply absorb the critical opinions of all my teachers in school?  I knew I wasn’t the only one who came to the movie with some reservations. Some were expecting it to be a “disaster” and critics are saying it’s way too much. It’s getting flack for being too exuberant and not refined enough to honor Fitzgerald’s “precisely tuned text.” This is exactly the kind of totally snobby, annoying thing I might have been saying in my head, but guys–I have to tell you–all these critics are just so wrong, and so am I. It will take all of five minutes into the film to realize that it isn’t doing a disservice to the original work at all. It’s resuscitating its life. In fact, the movie re-introduces Gatsby to a whole new generation that might never have the book cross their radar in the same way. It gives it an excitement not many are associating with F. Scott Fitzgerald since… the 1900s. It melds the heart of the classic with amazingly modern touches–like the soundtrack I’m listening to now, which features a number of old songs that have been repurposed and covered with new flare to fit the film. The movie is a lot like that: a marriage of the best of both worlds. In my humble opinion, of course.

Okay, I know I’m verging on fangirling right now, but Baz Luhrmann (the director) said at the premier that a decade ago when he revisited the book, he had a revelation. “It was us, where we are now, this great mirror to reflect back on us,” he said. I know just what he means because I felt the same ten years ago exactly, as I sat in my first college course holding this book and analyzing its message. Here we are a decade later and it’s even more relevant, reflecting the same cautionary tale as it always has. History repeats itself because we have yet to learn from it, but maybe with this movie out, Fitzgerald newbies will consider the world and their perceptions in a fresh way. Maybe the movie will actually bring people to the book. The director noted that that’s exactly what is happening and in the last week the novel has sold more copies than in the author’s lifetime. That kind of news makes my lit geek day and fills my book nerd heart with joy. I’ve also seen it firsthand. The friend I saw the movie with NEVER reads, HATES books (what a weirdo, I know) and has not once considered The Great Gatsby, but she’s coming over tomorrow to borrow my copy of the book. That’s one for Team Bibliophile!

The book she’ll be getting won’t look like the shiny posters for the film.

Modern Gatsby

It’ll look a little more traditional. Something like this:

Classic Gatsby

But it will still tell the same story and ignite the imagination, just like the movie did. Who knows–she may like it even more.

I want to know what you all think. Are you going to see The Great Gatsby? Have you already read it in high school or college? What did you think of it? And what great literary masterpiece do you want to see on the big screen next?

Thanks for reading, lovelies! Lisi will be back next week with her usual Blah-g.

xoxo

Alisha