Saturday, January 11, 2014

To the wonderful people who have visited this blog, near and far, I must bid you farewell on the Blogger platform. I have decided to embark on a more concentrated and dubious route, haphazard cooking, and you can certainly follow and visit me at Wordpress: thechanghustle.wordpress.com

This blog served as a wonderful outlet for the past five+ years, and I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my streams of thought with everyone who has paid a visit.

XOXO
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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Michelle Phillips

Michelle Phillips...  A timeless beauty.  Not a huge Mama/Papa fan, but Michelle was a looker.

One look at the doe eyes, center part/natural ombré color, and high cheekbones and...it's not hard to see why.

MP represented the unfettered, un-contrived beauty sought yesterday, today and undoubtedly, tomorrow.

Diggin' e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g- about this flawless look.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chris Pardino

Cafe Wyrd, Mpls

Chris Pardino and I met when I was eighteen. I was working part-time while attending college in a caged hat kiosk within the center of the downtown Minneapolis Gaviidae Common Mall. The job afforded me ample time to make personal phone calls and wear $300 Eric Javitz hats.

Chris was the all-American and blonde front desk concierge.  Everyday he would flash me his perfect toothpaste commercial smile as I would duck hurriedly in the mall -- hoping my tardiness blended itself unnoticed within the muffled waterfalls and expansive marble. One day, Chris gleefully bounded toward my kiosk with unusual purpose, smiling his smile and wearing the navy blue “GC” uniform blazer awkwardly on his wiry frame:

“Hi-eye! I'm Chris!"
Instantly, I was blinded by red lips, white teeth, and electricity-charged blue eyes -- a human canvas of the all-American flag.

"Patrick called the front desk again. I told him you were in the bathroom…"
(High-pitched, goose giggles ensue)

"You’re always late!" This was our very first exchange.

“Well, don’t worry - if he calls looking for you, I’ll just say you’re in the bathroom.”

With a wink and a sort-of skip, Chris was gone and we were instant-friends. I can't believe this happened almost 20 years ago.

Shortly after we met, Chris and I crossed the line to best-friends-friends. I remember his cramped, eclectic and comfortable studio apartment in Loring Park, complete with piles of Details and Esquire magazines, cheap drugstore make-up (“Just in case”), eighties New Age dance music and random ladies high heels, size eleven. Out of nowhere, he would ebulliently jump up from his seat and dance around maniacally and make me underage cocktails, while I chain-smoked his Camel lights at the fold-up card table by the window. To me, Chris was exoticism exemplified: he was The Cure! Duran Duran! Boy George/Culture-Club-cool! He ran rampant in a world that my comfortably-middle-class and suburban, Caucasian-homogeneous upbringing could never offer. I followed him to gay night clubs and gay coffee houses (Cafe Wyrd) where he would disdainfully point out the dirty-old men circling the young, newly-out, boys.  I would sit in his apartment and drink his homemade more-vodka-than-cranberry juices and eat his spaghetti-from-a-can with gusto. It was all blissful and fun.

Chris was my first friend of adulthood and in retrospect and pride, I was the only girl allowed in his gay-boy Brat Pack. Sure, there were other girls he preened and chummed with, but none of them were one-of-the-boys or insider-insiders. I remember vividly...Chris, Jason, Sage and I: meticulously under-dressed in flattering white tanks and baseball caps; flush with suntans, cocktails and gaiety in the back of a taxi cab, heading toward the blinking theater lights on Hennipen Avenue. "We are thin and gorrrr-geous!" was our spontaneous, ever-obnoxious rant. 

 Our cab driver glared at us in the rear-view mirror, clearly disturbed and miserable. 

We didn't have a care in the world.

Years later, we would laugh about how I naively thought he was into me when we first met as I would console him on his abusive and married on/off boyfriend, Jim, and he'd put make-up on my unsuspecting, sleeping, and in Chris’ words, “beefcake” ex-boyfriend-almost-husband, Andrew, as I placidly watched, eating Doritos. We were inseparable for seven years.

As all loved ones of addicts do, I struggle to put together the pieces and the dates. When the hell did my friend, the humanitarian, effervescent and caring person who rode his bike religiously and performed yoga headstands in the living room begin to fall apart and mold into the red-eyed, nasty, mood-swinging, mad man who would not get out of bed? When do socializing and drinks and friends and fun morph into the lonely and alienating ill abuse of alcoholism/addiction? When, oh when, did he ever have the chance to sneak the vodka bottle out to spike his morning coffee, as I sat beside him, wearily eating egg whites?  And since when did booze and drugs make him hate/throw away a corporate insurance career that he so pridefully got licensed for?

 I was blind to it all, apparently. There were destructive patterns, of course: The taste for unattainable, inexcusable men; the high/low energetic spurts with no follow-through or in-between; the family who could provide an endless supply of six-packs and not much more. The utter loneliness masked with countless friends and going-outs...

But Chris was gone before he was gone.  Years later, I discovered beloved CDs missing: desperately and numbly sold for crack, cocaine, whatever. I saved the handwritten note over-pouring on the errant envelope, haphazardly explaining his utter contempt for our friendship due to his addiction, and his unrelenting pain in feeling it so helplessly. 

Chris left The Loft, our last apartment, together, in the first of many treatment attempts. His belongings were moved out by unseen hands and his phone was turned off. I was forced to give up our once-in-a-lifetime, inexpensive luxury apartment with exposed brick and whirlpool (!) in the pre-bustling Minneapolis warehouse district. It was the beginning of the end of things and our friendship.

A couple of months later, there was the one and long-awaited call made from a pay phone: The hour-long confessional complete with tears, recounting the good times and bad; the "I’m sorries" - thorough and clear.

Chris then again, disappeared, and that time, I erased him completely.  We had our closure and frankly, he had put me through the ringer.  I had nothing left to give: I couldn't be anxious or disappointed each and every time I heard from him in a good moment; he refused to be medicated or finish a treatment program, so bad things inevitably followed.

A couple of years later, I ran into Chris on a downtown Minneapolis street, exactly two weeks prior to my New York departure. I remember being irritated by his airy nonchalance of what was to be the biggest step ever made in my life; no more run-ins, no more nothings.  I was moving... and he just breezed by. Eye-level, one could see the red eyes, mottled skin. He was just high.

My biggest regret is that I didn't get to see the original face I remembered when we parted. Or the bounce in his step.  Nor hear the goose laugh that made all laugh.

I never saw him again.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Modern style

I love to study an interesting woman's style:  I adore the good, the bad, and the ugly, but eff the banal.  Banal to me would be the ultra-polished/finished, impeccably manicured woman whose life is ruled by her lipstick, nails, or shoe polish; although the discipline required to remain that coiffed no-matter-what is noteworthy, it isn't captivating, or at least not to me.  Banal is also the woman who dresses exclusively for men; the women who forcefully jettisons her assets and attitude and sensuality with too much calculation. To me, banal style is stiff and/or vulgar style(s) simply because the real woman and spirit disappear.

That said, there is no formula or prototype for je ne sais quoi: I mean, look at Nan Kempner; of course she was the UES clothes-horse who wore looks a little too literally (for my taste), but hey, she smoked like a chimney, danced on tables, wore Le Smoking sans Le Pants to dinner, and wore white bikinis with heels on holiday...my type of girl... There's regal-icy Cate Blanchett in copacetic Givenchy:  unusual, unexpected and dramatic clothes for a same actress...there is Amanda Brooks with her waspy air, extreme-sport alter-ego, and unabashed love of fur and Celine; I can see her with a fresh-scrubbed face and an over-the-top Fendi stole...  And we have to note that beauty habits integrate/influence:  I love how Lauren Santo Domingo is perfectly polished and yet, skips the ubiquitous manicure/trendy nail polish; I think her Into the Gloss interview started a boycott of pointless manicures by chic women everywhere. There are so many others:  my dear friend Bisi, an exotically gorge model/stylist in her skinny jeans/Comme de Garcon kimono/kitten heels/afro waiting in line for Tom Thumb fried chicken, circa 2000, Minneapolis:  crazy, funny and chic...just like the woman herself.

So there you have it:  female mystique is an odd and fickle blend.

Katharine, Phoebe, and Carolyn:  My go-tos for style-and-otherwise inspiration:





Monday, September 16, 2013

Time and Flying

I adore Fall; in its early stages:  the melancholy of a renegade beach day; the first day one wears wool or tall boots; the crisp and clean scent of a cool evening after 8 p.m....  I love everything that Fall has ever given me:  my first marathon, my first love, my first foray into adulthood, my first fancy party, my first job in NYC, my first of many heartbreaks and discoveries: slips/trips/falls...

And speaking of Fall's merits, Fall 2013 has reminded me that it's been awhile since I have written for this blog:  over a year, in fact. The truth is that I had given up on The Blog...

The past two years have had a full-on gamut of challenges:  and instead of dealing with all of my forks in the road, I was running on empty and in denial; as a result, it felt as if every glass ceiling splintered the top of my head, and every crack in the ground swallowed me up whole.  Yeah, that made me pretty grumpy, and I got into a wallowing, Eeyore zone of sorts -- a perpetual bad mood for two years is not fun or pretty to witness or experience.  I decided to cheer up/chin-up simply because unrest and unhappiness doesn't meant a thing in any grand scheme:  life moves on, with or without us...it simply moves forward....for better or worse, I could stay married/get divorced, be a good/drift-away parent, be financially reckless/responsible, be creatively driven/stagnant, or be caught up in any general nonsense, but either way, The Universe could care less if I dig my heels into the ground while doing any of it.  It's gonna keep-a-moving.  With or without me.  Or, I could get pancreatic cancer like my mother-in-law and fight to be alive; or to have hairs on my head, taste buds, and a working brain..which I haven't and am grateful I haven't.

So that all said, I chose to deal with the present:  shitty or fabulous.  I decided  to unofficially stay focused and positive because it is far less banal than being a boring and ungrateful ogre, or worse or dead...

Like many, for ten years, I have either been a mother of two, a wife of one, a juggler of many, and a perpetually undecided perfectionist/scatterbrain.  The experiences of such things have been invaluable, but the reality is that I tend to tread water in the same bay of thoughts while going nowhere but to the peripheral edges of my brain when I am stuck in a rut.  Challenge doesn't have to freeze-dry.  But it somehow, someway, has to change you, me, all of us... 

My message:  Think, but don't get too lost in thought...there aren't as many free passes and moments as they say there are.  Thank you, Mary Jo, my mother-in-law, for that dear and clear reminder.

Without further adieu,

I AM BACK.:)








Friday, August 31, 2012

I Heart NY

I heart New York.  I heart it, because every neighborhood diner, bus ride, deplorable and or fabulous block is like a small-town cesspool of mostly-well-dressed/well-educated, sort-of sociopaths.  I may sound like I am being sarcastic, but I am not.  New Yorkers have personalities - crazy and colorful personalities.  And craziness and color give us the license to be our own version of crazy, or have our own colorful take. 

I love the Too Cool act.  I love how the Everyday-Joe morning runners pretend to not give a damn while passing Carolina Herrera in her crisp white shirt and red lipstick on a ninety degree day at 8:45 am as they huff and pant (run) around the reservoir. I love how everyone pretends that Matt Damon and his wife and his daughter are not really playing in the sandbox @ 83 and CPW.  Leo and his latest supermodel squeeze just breezed past on their bikes all Hollywood-grungy and non-chalant and no one "notices"; Barney's (commission-based) sales clerks snub Fargo actress Frances Mc-? as she browses the sunglasses...  The truth is that everyone is looking back in the wakes, and grabbing their i-Phones...but as mentioned, no one gives a damn.  Not in New York.  We have reputations to uphold.

I heart it, here.

I love how everybody whispers their dramatic or dirty secrets in their apartments (for the most part), but while out on the street or in public or in any vast or significantly large (or larger than a 2-bedroom) space, these same people say things like,  "I get swamp ass when I do that, dude" (two seemingly-normal good-looking guys on bikes) or "Let me give you the rundown on my eviction notice research" -- this latter phrase was quoted by a disheveled-via-beach girl who voraciously licked the melted M&M chocolate off the wrapper for several minutes after finishing the M&Ms.  Mid-sentence, she began to accost the geriatric merry drunkards at the back of the train (on the LIRR en route to Penn Station):  "Hey!  Everybody come to my house for free driiiiiiinks!", which was met by silence because M&M girl was a)  Ugly, b) had Aboriginal-esque hair, a dangerously-drooping bandeau top and was using a dirty napkin to wipe off last night's eyeliner, or c)  Everyone on the train heard her talk about being evicted, so everyone knew that there was no house/drinks/money to buy drinks.

No matter.  A little humanity and indecency on a train ride or in a grocery store or on a street at the right moment is all fine and good:  we're not robots.  And in New York, you're allowed an anonymous crazy/embarrassing or bad moment - most likely, no one you care about will ever know or see it -- or not.

In either case, no one gives a damn in two minutes, or in a worse-case scenario, twenty-four hours, as the best thing about being a put-together asshole, rager or sociopath is complete and utter self-absorption.





Monday, August 27, 2012

Flamig Farm

Every year, pretty much without fail, we head out to Simsbury, CT (my husband's hometown) to chill at his mother's, be overall lazy, and take the kids every day to a place called Flamig Farm.  This year was no different, but some of the same old things appeared to be different...  My girls are not super-young anymore, and although everything in CT and at "THE FARM!!!!!!!" was still magical and fantastic, nothing was out of their world, realm or grasp as things once were not so long ago:  Englebert the alpha goat has been MIA for the second year in a row (goat stew, anyone?).  The kids could swim in the deep-end of the town pool  unsupervised (save for the five or so life guards).  My husband and I weren't fighting like a street gang over petty things due to novelty or sleep deprivation (and we even managed to go for a late night ice cream walk, hand-in-hand.)  My mother-in-law was noticeably a few years older than a just couple of years ago, and the kids didn't whine, not once, due to sugar or toddlerdom (Is there any possibility that is a word?) mainly because they are seven and not two-year-old toddlers. Seriously...where the hell does Time go?

Nothing and everything remains the same, and for some reason, I sort of got it this same-and-yet-very-different run-of-the-mill/extraordinary summer.