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Santa Claus Came To Town

This year, my holiday was filled with thoughtful gifts and thoughtless behaviors, rendering it somewhere between good and bad. Honestly, with my parents losing my childhood home, my dad dying, my brother in jail and lean finances, Christmas isn’t as joyous as it used to be a few years ago. I am almost resigned to the idea that “just ok” is how my holidays are destined to be forevermore. Sounds dramatic, I know, but that’s the size of it… #sorrynotsorry

To make me feel better, I bought myself my first smartphone- the Samsung Galaxy Reverb. (I can use Instagram now. I am “tousledelegance’ there, go figure. Follow me!)

I gave my boyfriend a really fancy authentic vintage gangster fedora, two big bottles of his favourite cologne (Dominican Bay Rum) and four James Cagney movies. He gave me a Nutribullet (tried my first Nutrablast today with Spinach/Chard/Kale/Mizuna, Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Chia Seeds, Almond Milk), a $50 MAC gift card, a couple of Lush bath bombs, a Side Socket (because my bed keeps bumping into the plug for my router/modem and disconnecting it) and some candy.
I gave his daughter some cat head key toppers and a $50 Amazon gift card. She gave me… nothing. (And that really hurt; she fired some ceramic pieces for literally everyone else while she was studying abroad in France this semester and gave those to them as Christmas gifts, but didn’t make anything for me.)
I gave my best friend black shower curtain rings (hey, that’s what he wanted) and some spicy gourmet pretzels. He gave me an sd card for my new phone, perfume and took me to dinner at Texas Roadhouse (I’d never been and it ruled).

I am spending the next few days at home alone, mentally recuperating and trying to enjoy a little Me Time.

I hope you all had happy holidays and made special memories! Here’s to a better new year!

[Crossposted from TousledElegance.net]

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When Later Doesn’t Come

Wait… Where’d November go?! There were several days that I think I had somewhat interesting crap to blog about, but I kept telling myself “later.” However, later never quite came and now I don’t remember the bulk of what I wanted to say.

All kinds of disappointing things happened last month, but surprisingly, I didn’t lose my shit. (Go me! Must be the vitamins!) I haven’t slept well though and that finally caught up to me in the form of upper respiratory infected goodness, lasting a solid week. Yuck! Today, I feel a little more human. Now, if I could just stop coughing in the middle of the night, that would be super!

I know many people freak the fuck out come December. Oddly, I am managing the season better this year. As of Cyber Monday, I’ve almost finished Xmas shopping. (I am doing it online again.) My Boyfriend was easy to buy for, so he = done. His daughter would probably prefer cash or a gift card, so that’s as good as taken care of.  Anything my Mom wouldn’t normally splurge on for herself (i.e. beauty products) will be simple to order. I’m unsure about my BFF, but I’ll play Santa and ask him what he’d like for Christmas. Really, the only holiday related thing that is stressing me out is arranging when/how to see my Mom. I don’t like asking anyone for anything- especially rides, but I’ll have to if I want to spend any time with Mom over the holidays. (And I do. Very much so. )

And what’s on my Wishlist? Honestly, I couldn’t think of much [within reason... a new computer or laptop isn't]. Perhaps I’d most enjoy a giftcard for when I do find something I want.

 

 

 

[Crossposted from TousledElegance.net]

Cold November Rain

In mid October, my brother was arrested for:

- Visiting  A Common Nuisance[Edit: Charge Dropped in December]

- Reckless Possession Of Paraphernalia

- Possession Of A Controlled Substance[Edit: Charge Dropped In December]

Bond was $14,000

In November,  these additional charges were added:

- Dealing Methamphetamine (2 counts)

Bond is $40,000.

****

Some of you might recall I stopped speaking to my brother in 2006 when he made the bizarre accusation that I was trying to kill our mother by holding her hand and talking to her while she was in a coma. In light of his arrest and likelihood of long-term incarceration, I extended an olive branch. I put some funds on his Commissary Account and sent him a letter. I am open to the possibility of reconciliation. It is my feeling that his personal failings don’t warrant the level of suffering he faces.

[Crossposted from TousledElegance.net]

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Jill Stuart JS111 Black Crystal

JS111BlackCrystalIt’s just about time for me to get new glasses. (I’m supposed to get an eye exam every 2 years. It’s been at least 4, ok, maybe 5. Oops!) It would be cheaper to simply replace the lenses in my current daily-wear frame, but the bridge of them has worn almost all the way through to the lenses on both sides. They will be completely unwearable pretty soon. Bummer. Well, I guess new frames it is! I found some frames that were a tolerable balance between [pseudo] cateye and office appropriate, but they were out of stock. What?! Nooooo….!!!! A little research indicated that style is also discontinued by the manufacturer. Fu….!!!! That explains way I couldn’t find the same ones anywhere else, argh! I kept obsessively checking sites on a daily basis, hoping someone had more sitting in the warehouse waiting to be restocked. Finally, a site added 1 more. One! OMG!

I found a coupon code (and dipped into a little of the xmas gift fund I’d recently started squirreling away /cringe) to purchase the frames only. I can’t afford lenses right now, but I was so worried these frames would disappear again never to be found, I bought them anyway and, finances permitting, I will fill them somewhere else at a later date. I feel guilty, excited and relieved all at once!

[EDIT: The frames didn't fit. I'm crushed. I sent them back and received a full refund. The quest for the perfect new pair continues...]

[Crossposted from TousledElegance.net]

Old-Time Slums Of Indianapolis

This is an article published in 1911 by an Indiana University history journal, describing slums and poor neighborhoods in Indianapolis between 1835 and the late 1880s. Many thanks to Holly, who first posted this find in the Hoosier folklore discussions.

Disclaimer:  The person cited as the source by the author is James Frank Wright, a eugenicist and one-time Marion county employee who worked closely with Rev. Oscar C. McCulloch on an 1888 “study” that was an early and formative influence on the infamous eugenics movement. The accounts described here are drawn from their work, which began circa 1870. (For much more on this, see the discussions of the “Ben Ishmael tribe” in the Carmichael-Moenkhaus Society groups.)

While obviously tainted as objective history, Wright’s (and thus Cottman’s) account below nevertheless provides a fascinating snapshot of what Indianapolis “proper society” considered the city’s slums and outsider undergrounds at the dawn of the 20th century.

“Old-Time Slums of Indianapolis”
by George S. Cottman
Indiana Magazine of History (Indiana University), Volume 7, Issue 4 (Dec. 1911), pp. 170-173
Archived online the by IU Digital Library Program, link includes scanned images.

Mr. J.F. Wright, whose long and intimate connection with the charity work of Indianapolis made him familiar with the “submerged tenth” of the city, has collected into several manuscript books a fund of curious lore than touches that element of the city’s population. Included in this information is a long list of slum names that have at one time or another attached to various buildings and localities, illustrative of that strange and ofttimes happy slang of which the facile American is so prolific. One notable fact is that such names were much more numerous here at an earlier day than they are now, indicating the moral sanitation which may fairly be said to have taken place in our community. It is said that Indianapolis is today, for a city of its size, exceptionally free from slum conditions. Whatever vice flourishes here makes at least a show of hiding its head and not flourishing itself in the more respectable quarters; but it is only of recent years that this boast could be made. A quarter of a century ago open dives could be found in the very heart of the business district, and Mr. Wright’s list shows that these were but the overflow of a corruption that had long afflicted the town. A notorious wandering family, well named Ishmael, and an influx of kindred spirits who speedily became bound together not only by common sympathies but by intermarriages, formed at an early day the germs of a social disease not to be soon eliminated, and these slang names are, for the most part, a reflection of that disease.

As early as 1835 the “South Side” was distinguished from the “North Side,” Washington street being the dividing line, and this south half of the town was pretty well supplied with grotesquely-dubbed localities. East of East street and south of the Panhandle railroad, peopled largely by Irish, was known as “Irish Hill”, and was made notorious by the troublesome and bellicose nature of the residents there. “Vinegar Hill,” bounded by South, School and Huron streets, got its acidulous sobriquet from the disposition of its feminine residents to advertise one another’s shortcomings, this abnormal propensity being so strong, it is said, that they even promoted the church militant by praying offensively, each against her sisters, at the prayer meetings. “Vinegar Slip,” origin of name unknown, was the south end of Mississippi street, near the rolling mills, and was known to the police as a hiding place for criminals. [Mississippi St. no longer exists, and I've been unable to determine its location. One of the city's first theaters was formed in 1840 and based at Market and Mississippi streets.] The strip of ownerless ground along the river back of the Greenlawn Cemetery, which was long used as a public dumping ground, and where people of the poorest class “squatted,” patching together grotesque shanties out of old boards, scraps of tin and what not, was christened “Dumptown.”

“Dogtown,” near the stockyards, was so called from the vast number of dogs that were kept there as a guard against the tramps who infested the place. “Poverty Flats” was between Mississippi street and the river, extending from the Union tracks to Morris street. “Over the Rhine” was over the river from Greenlawn Cemetery. Several tenement houses on West street near Georgia were known as “Holy Row;” “The Bowery” was Pearl street east of Alabama, and “Tary’s Corner” was a house on Delaware street where Mozart Hall now stands, which half a century or more ago was an abiding place for emigrants and other people of the poorest class. “Happy Hollow” was Helen street, near Kingan’s porkhouse, and Virginia avenue was “Lovely Lane,” so named thirty years ago by the colored people, who built upon it a meeting house which was labeled “Lovely Lane 11. E. Church.” [Sic. This address conflicts with that given by Jacob Piatt Dunn in Greater Indianapolis: The History, the Industries, the Institutions, and the People of a City of Homes (Lewis Publ. Co., 1939), p. 603.] The unconscious irony in this naming will be obvious to any one who remembers the horrible depths of muck and batter that pre-eminently distinguished Virginia avenue before it was asphalted.

Along Washington street were “Barbers’ Row,” near Blackford; Steven’s “Colonnade,” “Stringtown,” across the White river bridge, so called because of the way the houses strung out on both sides of the way, and “Slabtown,” west of Mt. Jackson. “Greasy Row” was the square opposite the courthouse.

A particularly unsavory part of town was a strip of territory lying along or contiguous to the canal. The “Yellow Bridge,” originally painted that color is to the present day regarded as the gateway to “Bucktown.” ”Long Branch,” which stood on the bank of the classic ditch, was a house well known by name throughout the town, and the fame of it was decidedly ill; and the “Park House,” of kindred reputation in its day, also stood on the canal, near Military Park. “Sleigho,” a liquor joint frequented by toughs, stood near the canal at Eighth street, and just over the ditch, which was facetiously dubbed “the St. Lawrence,” was a similar dive called “Canada.” “Chism’s Fence,” at the corner of North and Blackford streets, a resort for the lowest class of blacks and whites, was kept after the war by a son of infamy named Bob Chism, and a brother in iniquity, Rollo House, was the proprietor of a shanty built on piles near the pesthouse, known in criminal circles as “The Crib.” “The Nest,” in the same locality, was a similar den. “Lindenbower Station,” a cottage in an alley north of old Fourth street and west of Mississippi was, prior to 1878, also a notorious pest hole. Not far from this place was “Hoplight Station,” an alley corner, so called because the beaux and belles of the neighborhood used to congregate there and dance of moonlight nights. To prove still farther that these were not devoid of poetry and sentiment, a prosaic and presumably dirty alley, not far off, became “Lovers’ Lane.” A tenement row on Court street near Blackford was known in 1877 as “The Dirty Dozen,” because from these there issued daily just twelve dirty looking girls who went to work at Kingan’s.

In other parts of the town “Wall street” was the north side of Market street where the Terminal Station [view historic photos] now stands, but then occupied by negro gambling dens; “Rag alley” was Columbia alley from Ohio to Michigan streets, and “Cockroach row” was a block on Massachusetts avenue not far from Pennsylvania street. “The Met,” “Crone’s,” “Atlantic Garden,” “The Zoo” and “The Adelphi” were low theaters which, at various periods, contributed their mites to the demoralization of the city. “Dogberry Row” designated the dens of “justice” scattered about Court and Delaware streets near the courthouse, which, about 1882 were infamous for robberies under cloak of the law. People too poor and ignorant to help themselves were brought into these justice of the peace courts on trumped-up charges and always fined, the scheme being to secure costs. Blackmail was levied on houses of ill-fame, which paid weekly sums to prevent raid, and cases were often tried by night to avoid publicity and newspaper exposure. The constables are said to have all been criminals, though why this charge should be confined to the constables is not apparent. One other notable colony that belongs to this lovely list was “Brickville.” “Brickville” forty years ago occupied a stretch of territory from Woodruff Place east to the Center township line [located today at Emerson Ave.], and from Clifford avenue [no longer exists] to the National road [today's Washington Street]. It was so named from numerous brickyards located there, and the “colony” was made up of the brickmakers, a hard set, many of them Kentuckians, who were a law unto themselves and as defiant as they dared be of the powers that were — except in the stringent winter seasons when, like the untameable red man, they would bury the hatchet and come in to the government agent — i.e., the township trustee, to be fed. Their little kingdom was so overrun with dogs it required considerable courage in an Officer of the law to venture among them. One man kept no less than thirty large, savage sheep-killing brutes, and no one knows of him ever having paid any tax. A case that came into court illustrates the moral status of these people. A man, being offended at his step child one cold night picked it up by the ankle and hurled it over the yard fence, breaking its arm. The mother approved the act. The child, afraid to return to the house, sought to keep warm by huddling close to a calf lying in some straw. Finally a next door neighbor came out and got the little outcast because, as he explained apologetically in court, “he hated to hear it cry and thought he’d take it in.”

These Brickvillians had a social life all their own, and Mr. Wright describes the typical Brickville dandy as a compound of brilliant colors with red, blue and yellow stripes in his trousers, a red undershirt crossed with bright hued suspenders, and a gaudy neckerchief, with cowhide boots upon his feet and a broadbrimmed brown hat surmounting all.

“Brickville,” by the removal and dispersion of the brickyards, has long since ceased to exist as a “center of population,” and most of the people who are now familiar with that ground know nothing of the vanished race that once flourished there.

[Crossposted from TousledElegance.net]

Halloween Costume Retrospective

Note: If I have photos of these costumes, I’ll edit this post to add them later.

Independence Day/July 4th is my favourite holiday, but Halloween is a close second. I trick-or-treated all the way up until I was a Senior in high school. (Free candy FTW! Now, I just raid the candy aisle for discounted noms.) To this day, I still dress up as something, even if I’m not going anywhere or doing anything. Sometimes, I even remember to take a photo of my costume and maybe even share it.

I’ve always wanted to do ‘couple’ costumes, but I could never get my Boyfriend into it. I don’t know if we’ll go out this year since the events we typically go to got scheduled for after Halloween (the 1st & the 2nd) and I am pretty ‘over it’ by then, but if we do, we’ll be dressed as the duo of Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson. He found the perfect hat, trenchcoat and pipe. I have a bowler, tweed jacket and trousers to compliment my moustache drawing skillz.

As for tonight, I have several possibilities ready and it will likely be a game-time decision as to what I wear and whether I cam. I’ll let you know if I decide to go live.

Meanwhile, here are some of my Halloween Costumes from yesteryear:

[Crossposted from TousledElegance.net]

Backspace, Return

Last week was irksome. I spent the entire week feeling like I was on the edge of illness. (I think I fought it off!) I’d planned to tinker with my lighting kit and cam a few evenings. Didn’t happen! I was fatigued and feeling unwell, so I read If You Lived here You’d Be Perfect By Now by Robin Hardwick. It is a funny-because-it’s true look back at the Sweet Valley High series. I also watched Lt. Joe Kenda: Homicide Hunter on Netflix. He is one of the good ones- a smart cop who genuinely cares and works a case until it is truly closed. And, finally, I caught up on a forum not worth linking. I should have nixed that; it made me feel even ickier and I doubt I will ever look at it again. Here’s why…

I am part of a site that allows users to join various communities and to poll the members on random topics. One question was asking whether you found women with tattoos attractive or unattractive. Even though I couldn’t stop thinking about Portlandia and the Eddie Vedder tattoo, I answered that tattoos don’t really matter to me either way.
(They don’t… unless maybe we’re talking about Taz or a Grateful Bear Bear, heh.) I’d have left it at that and clicked right along my way, but then I noticed a comment from guy stating, “word os advise. real men call girls with tattoos sluts.” (I left his errors in tact there.) Whaa?! I couldn’t let that go. I replied that “Better advice: ‘real men’ don’t call women sluts, unless it’s during consensual play.” He got in a snit and said I apparently I can’t read and didn’t read the question or his answer. I responded that indeed I had, direct quoted his original post and indicated that he should perhaps re-phrase his comment if that’s not what he is in fact trying to convey. I noticed he continued to post, raving on and on, resorting to personal attacks, but by this point I’d said all I needed to say (and politely, even) and I have not visited the thread again. *washes hands*
I stumbled upon a question directed to the ladies only, asking if they would be offended if they were wearing a lowcut top and caught men looking at their chest. I replied that personally, it didn’t bother me if they were just looking, but I would probably be offended if a man assumed it was a license to touch. I went on to say I could understand it if that made some women feel like more of an object than a person though. I also mentioned that sometimes women are not necessarily dressing to attract men, but we are sometimes dressing a certain way because of other women and I explained that other women are often the harshest critics of their counterparts and routinely size each other up and make judgments based on what we’re wearing. (Hell, half the time, I can’t even get through the judgy comments on xoJane, a place that is supposed to be female-positive!!!) I thought this was a valid, even astute contribution to the discussion. I noticed a lot of men were answering the question too, saying some pretty spiteful things about women. (I also noticed a lot of those men had joined communities with titles that were bitter and insulting towards women and almost all of them were divorced as well, which kind of explained the vitriol.) Their comments really got out of hand, especially considering that the inquiry was not directed to them at all. Several men called me a whore and told me I was asking to get raped and they’d be happy to give it to me. I’d have let it go, were it not for the fact that the thread had now been totally commandeered by these vicious guys rallying against not just me, but all women on the site. I politely pointed out that not only could I, as a women, not speak for all women, men have even less of a frame of reference to presume to do so. Of course, that was not well received and more attacks flew instantly, but again, I’d said all I needed to say and never visited the thread again. *re-washes hands* I know, I know… Arguing on the internet is lame, but standing by and letting people think bullshit like that is ok is lame too.

I spent the weekend loafing some more, watching horror b-movies and film noir. I saw: The Beast With A Million Eyes (ZZzzzz…), The Curse of The Swamp Creature (lol @ that costume), You Only Live Once (ooh, Alcatraz), House Across The Bay (mmm, George Raft), Jamaica Inn (pirates, omg), The House On Telegraph Hill (the ol’ identity switcharoo, eh), The Naked City (fantastic example of the genre), The Big Caper (how not to go straight) and Crime Against Joe (didn’t see that one coming until the very end). I’ve been practicing my moll accent and dialogue, so youse guys betta watch out, see. Yer all a buncha mugs! On accounta I ain’t down and out no more, I’m gonna get something goin’ dis week, see!  ;)

[Crossposted from TousledElegance.net]

For The Love Of Cacophony

When I am at my boyfriend’s house, I seize every opportunity to blast [what you might possibly consider horrible] music on his badass stereo, because I sure as shit can’t do that at my apartment. I don’t even have a stereo or boombox or whatever old people would normally rock out with. (I mean, I am 36 now. #lulz)

Songs I can’t stop listening to lately:

 

Senses Fail is (er, was) one of my favourite bands. They played here this week with For The Fallen Dreams, Expire, Being As An Ocean, and So Many Ways. I figured SF must be touring in support of a new record, so I pulled it up on Spotify. I had planned on going until I listened to it. I didn’t like it. Man, I hate, hate, hate saying that, but it’s the truth. There were only 2 songs on the whole thing that I didn’t want to skip over. I feel like a disloyal fan, but their sound has changed over the years from Screamo to more what I’d consider American Hardcore. Sure, both genres are similar and I like them both, but I am kind of burnt out on hardcore lately. I’m leaning more towards those melodic harmonies and bittersweet lyrics found in Screamo. (I am more wistful and resigned than angry and in your face, I guess?) I looked up the other acts too and really could only get into So Many Ways, but it’s rumored they cancelled. Anyway, so, yeah, kind of a bummer about Senses Fail. I’ll give the record another chance eventually.

[Crossposted from TousledElegance.net]

Umbrellas Versus Softboxes

If you’ve been thinking about setting up a home studio too, but are confused about whether you should get umbrellas or softboxes, here are a few articles on the nuances of both:

I chose umbrellas rather than softboxes, because: I wanted soft overall lighting rather than directional and, yeah, umbrellas are affordable and easy for beginners to use. Some other considerations behind my decision:

I have to keep in mind that I am using a webcam, not a digital camera or video camera, so lighting will process differently and my equipment can only do so much. Webcams are  extremely prone to “whiting out” facial features under bright conditions or obscuring them under dim conditions; things like aperture and ISO can’t be adjusted at all. Also, I am shooting indoors, primarily at night [read: without natural light] – doing still portraits, makeup tutorials for You Tube and amateur adult video clips for the web.

I’ve wanted a real light kit for a while and I’ve put a lot of thought into this over the years. I [kind of] know a little bit about what I’m trying to do, just because I have been playing with lighting for long as a self-shooter. I am ready to test my theories with upgraded equipment and play around with new ideas.

In a round about way, I am utilizing this lighting basic scheme: http://www.3drender.com/light/3point.html.

(Sidenote: Wouldn’t it be perfect if my apartment had track lighting?! Yeah, I’ll get Maintenance right on that! *snicker*)

Anyway, here’s my plan… I am using a standard residential overhead light fixture with a 60 watt Reveal bulb as a substitute for key and back lighting. The umbrellas will be placed a few feet away from me, on each side. Those will act as fill lights, providing soft overall enhancement, complimenting my overhead light, rather than full on directional illumination. Jay Holben, director of the Camgirls documentary, pointed something out to me when the film crew was here: In the past, I did this same thing, albeit primitively, using my ceiling fan lighting and two desk lamps. Sometimes, I’d even turn the lamps towards the wall for a bounce effect to balance my overall look and feel. I didn’t fully realize I was using as actual photography skillset at the time; I just knew what looked “better” and “worse” to my eyes. He also complimented my shot composition. *tips hat*

I’ll start actually setting up/testing my lighting kit either tonight or Monday night. As soon as my backdrop arrives, I’ll go “live” or “public” or, um, whatever. Woohoo!!!!!!

Oh, added bonus: part of my boyfriend’s job entails designing lighting systems, so I can take advantage of his expertise to tweak my set up. (Hey, I actually absorb some of what he says and even take some of his opinions into account! UH-HUH! YES-WAY! ) Man, that guy can talk about Lumens and Color Temperature until the proverbial cows come home!

 

#lighting, #photography

[Crossposted from TousledElegance.net]

Help With My Home Studio Project?

Thanks to the super awesome TacomaGrey, I am setting up a Home Studio for Webcamming, You Tube videos and Photoshoots. I have wanted an umbrella lighting setup for a long time! I’m so excited! <3333333

:::oops::: There’s just one more thing I realized I need before I can put it to use – a light coloured opaque curtain. (I have some white sheers, but those are a total #fail for something like this.) Unfortunately, for the next several weeks, I can’t spend money on anything that isn’t absolutely essential. (Why? Because I bought all but 1 of my own bday drinks, since only 1 person showed up for my party *whine* and I was so busy feeling sorry for myself that I didn’t realize how high my tab got until it was too late. I also have a doctor’s appointment coming up that I have to pay for out of pocket since I am uninsured.) /emo

I’d really like to get started working with my new equipment asap, so I am hoping  some kind soul might purchase the beige curtain from –> MY AMAZON WISHLIST <– . Pretty please? *bats lashes* You know I feel weird asking for stuff, so I’d be willing to offer you a short custom video or small custom photoset as a Thank You, if you like. This studio will definitely renew my enthusiasm and allow me to move forward on some web projects I’ve had on the backburner, so you’ll see more of me and in new ways, if that’s an incentive :)

EDIT 10/17/13: Curtain purchased! Thank you, Soliano! <333333

[Crossposted from TousledElegance.net]

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