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Hello, hello, hello! An introduction.

December 26, 2010

So uh, hi, everyone. This is my blog. (That should be obvious) It’s mostly about things that I’m interested in (because otherwise I wouldn’t blog about it), and things I find cool (thus why I’m interested). What I’m interested in is books, fiction of all kinds, how to tell a story, computer geekery, how to blow things up using household supplies, food, fashion, feminism and gay rights, and what constitutes panache and style and the ever-cliché je-ne-sais-pas.

But first let me tell you about my life, by focusing on one of its aspects. Fashion.

When I was little, all I wanted was long flowing locks that can swish dramatically in the wind. Kind of like Sailor Moon or Disney princesses, you know? I have a fantasy of standing on a cliff top with the wind blowing through my lush silky midnight-shade tresses, tousling and twirling, like a lunatic hair-dresser with a wind machine. The trouble is that hair takes a long time to grow. At about an inch per month, it takes roughly three years to grow a crop of dead keratin as long as that. There is also the problem of the enormously bothersome upkeep involved – shampooing is no longer a lather rinse repeat until you run out of shampoo*. Keeping hair untangled during sports is difficult. Trying to style it and keep it from being flat/frizzy/ is positivelyHerculean.

Good news though, I changed my mind.

I found a new style icon then Sailor Moon or Belle or Rapunzel, and I’m almost embarrassed to say that it’s Haruhi.

That’s her with the dark hair next to the bunny-hugging guy. (You couldn’t tell she was a her, could you?) My entire fashion sense and worldview on gender differences and hair (!!!) began with a cheesy shojo anime about a over the- top ultra-rich not-quite bordello in a high school that makes could make Cambridge look like a mud hut.

It’s also totally worth watching, just so you know.

The Ouran High School Host Club is basically a club where rich girls pay hourly fees for one of the ‘hosts’ to flirt with/charm/sweet talk them. Haruhi, who’s really a girl, ends up cross-dressing and working for the OHSHC (like I’m typing that out again) though the sort of bizarrely improbable events that so proliferates in cheesy rom coms.

Hijinks and hilarity ensue.

But long after I forgot most of the actual plot, I remember this: Haruhi taught me that there is nothing weird about being genderly ambiguous. It’s alright to go from one end of the feminine/masculine spectrum to the other because the distinction doesn’t matter, not really. You shouldn’t have to care whether people think you’re a girl or a guy, because 1) gender is a social construct anyways, and 2) you know who you are on the inside, and that’s the most important thing of all.

It also taught me that screwing around with people’s expectations is fun – what can I say.

But the next step in my fashion-evolution** came from an obsession with men’s fashion. I’m still not really sure how that started. For a while I loved reading anecdotes about the great dandies of the past. Brummell, who was some random Regency-era dude, has allegedly spent hours arranging his cravat to perfection.

“The collar… was so large that, before being folded down, it completely hid his head and face, and the white neckcloth was at least a foot in height. Brummell then, standing before the glass, with his chin poked up to the ceiling, by the gentle and gradual declension of his jaw, creased the cravat to reasonable dimensions.” This thrice-daily ceremony, often witnessed by the Prince Regent, was unchanging and yet fraught with danger; Beau Brummell’s valet would appear, exhausted, from the dressing-room, festooned with mis-creased cravats, and explain, “these are our failures.”

Not that I’ll ever aspire to that level of anal-retentiveness, but I do so love the little details of menswear. The Victorian-origined ideals of a man being a somberly clothed backdrop for his peacocked-out female companion still holds some sway, and I adored the feeling of being carefully constructed and buttoned-downed while still having a subtle rebellious detail winking out somewhere.  Imagine patterned socks, dotted ties, checked shirts, bright pocket squares…never worn at once, of course. But just as an insolent little hint on a perfectly pressed and brushed grey flannel suit. The impression of straining against restraints is much more powerful than a chaotic mess.  (Which is unfair to female fashion, but you get my point )

Still, obsessions fade, or at least let up a little. Right now I’m in love with Lolita dresses, which are all pretty much fairy-dust cupcakes disguised as dresses. It’s all frills and lace and girlish charm. Think turn-of-century porcelain dolls, think ornate gold-edges teacups with chocolate éclairs, think dainty parasols with polished handles.

So, I don’t know what’s next for me, and right now I don’t want to. In any case, I like waking up in the morning and deciding right then and there which of these people I feel like being that day.

*See, that was an old computer science joke. The shampoo instructions don’t normally put the linguistic equivalent of brackets or appropriate indenting to end the loop, so a computer would just keep washing and washing and washing and washing because it doesn’t know it has to stop.  Random geekery FTW.

**That makes me think of Digimon for some reason. Anyone else adored that show as a kid?

Image credits: Ouran High School Host Club,Lolita

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