April 13, 2014

i'm gonna chase your hell away






He doesn't even bother to say hello. 

"You're going to like this," my phone proclaimed at two in the morning. 
Brad had just sent me a remix for the decidedly eye-candyesque, Australian-import dance music royalty, TyDi. TyDi's tracks are never your run-of-the-mill EDM fodder, so logic stands to reason that he is someone who appreciates the value of originality and a strong sense of self (have you ever listened to his stuff? Go do it now here and here). It's little wonder he chose to release this remix.   

Featuring Dia Frampton, a runner-up for The Voice, this remix reminds me of when Brad and I first became friends (I don't chart all my friendships by the type of music we listened to, but this is different): the beach-music progressive beat, chopped up vocals, gently ecstatic vibe, with just the slightest bit of grit. Bump this while driving, bump this at the beach, bump this at home... just don't bump it in front of some fur-boot-wearing 16-year-old who went to UMF to hear Animals. That's doing everyone here a disservice. 

A masterful cross between progressive and indie, with a touch of chillstep thrown in... This remix, for me, is something that stays true to its creator's roots and harkens back to simpler times, while still sounding fresh with its genre-mixing and innovation. I asked Brad and Victor to describe their signature sound before, and they didn't have an answer for me back then, but they definitely sound like they're developing one now. Hats off, Brad and Vic. 

Whenever I need dependable, never-let-you-down music: soundcloud.com/bradandvictorh

January 11, 2014

flowers, not jewelry

 
All photography by a relative who is ridiculously immersed in the dubious craft of iphoneography. Search her up on Instagram by #photographerjo
 
Zara jacket & shoes; Bershka romper; vintage Lanvin bag; vintage gold chain and rings
 
 
Being in Asia has both its pitfalls and small victories: small, cramped spaces such as bathrooms in which I unfailingly bang my elbows against every possible existent/nonexistent surface, and small, cramped spaces such as creepy hallways with flickering lights which provides an unsettlingly perfect backdrop for camera fun. All photos here are taken with an iPhone 5. Unprofessional? Perhaps slightly. Grainy? My deepest apologies. More fun and spontaneous, not to mention super convenient editing options? Definitely. Sorry for being lazy. Sending all my love from every ominous-looking nook and cranny in Hong Kong. Wish you were here.
 
 

December 14, 2013

the opposite effect


Vanessa: American Apparel body suit; H&M shorts; Flannel shirt from a random shop in Hong Kong
Dané: Tate Vest, Urban Outfitters faux leather skirt, H&M belt

We do not wear coordination well. The words that came to mind for this shoot were 'simple' and black' and clearly we both had different interpretations of this to say the least (this tends to happen quite a bit). Vanessa's bodysuit, as rad as it may be, has caused her much grief. Lets just say our nights out on the town were a bit of a hassle when it came to having to use the ladies room..I made a slight effort to tighten my vest down with a belt however certain things are just relentless in nature..

comments from the peanut gallery: "Dane can you at least try to look sexy?.."
me: "how..?"

I like it when it's awkward.

December 4, 2013

'cause I always drop the bass: the trials and tribulations of a half-shaved head


I am not a brave person when it comes to changing my hair: the only reason why I have the hairstyle I do today is completely due to my laziness to go for regular trims at the salon. I shaved off half of my ass-length hair one and a half years ago; it was both the best and worst hair-related decision I have made thus far. Now that I have decided to grow it back (some of you -- nay, most -- may rejoice), I would like to impart whatever wisdom I have managed to glean from such a reckless decision. 

Okay truth is, I'll just miss it like hell and have therefore decided to dedicate a post to my hair. 

"My face is too wide. D'you think I can actually pull this off??" x 10000 to every Tom, Dick and Harry that seemed even halfway capable of giving an opinion. The amount of deliberation to finally arrive at getting a massive undercut is unfathomable: the Japanese lady who had the dubious honor of first snip was more apprehensive about the whole issue than I ever was. 

"Are you sure? You have such nice, long hair!"
"Just do it." 
She screamed louder than I did.



Albeit a seemingly irrevocable mistake, I felt a huge rush of relief. It's good to do something stupid with our hair while we're still young; it's a rite of passage. I've never bleached my hair or gotten ridiculous colors due to having a mother who vehemently opposed anything of the sort, so this is what happened instead (hey look ma, no hair!). I'd hazard a guess she'd vastly prefer me with blue hair than be missing half of it. 

Oddly enough, having half of my considerably-sized noggin not constantly hidden beneath a forest of hair (a futile attempt to hide my wide bone structure) forced me to finally accept what I hated about my looks the most. Consequentially, the rest of my insecurities and my desire to emulate the common standard of beauty (smoky eyes, nude lips, poofy hair, perfectly groomed eyebrows, push-up bra, short dress) fell away as easily as my hair did to the ground. I was no longer what men deemed "attractive" in the general sense; why stress about it any longer? In order to fully embrace myself, I had to completely and totally negate whatever the hell I thought was supposed to be attractive to other people. I started dressing for myself, doing my make up for myself -- I was far less afraid to capitalize on my own desires in regards to how I wanted to look. I guess you can say it was the first of many steps to feeling comfortable in my own skin. 

I do realize there's nothing even remotely groundbreaking about an undercut, but shaving off any portion of my hair was a huge stretch for someone who watched all of her hairdressers like a hawk to ensure they didn't trim more than an inch off her glorious mane. You'd be hard-pressed to find somebody as chickensh*t as I was in regards to radical hairstyles. A bad experience in the fourth grade had traumatized me enough: let's leave it at the word "sideburns". Conversations such as "hey Vanessa, can I ask you something?" "Yeah, what?" "Why are you so ugly?" "... I don't know" put me off of anything deemed unpopular.  


It may have taken some extreme measures to finally accept myself, flaws and whatnot, but I can say I am an infinitely better person for it. Confidence is a lengthy and arduous journey: take it from somebody who has struggled with an eating disorder since she was eleven. Present Vanessa can rock dark purple/black lipstick,  no problem. Something totally abnormal, strange and borderline ugly? Bring it on. It's not so much how something looks than how you feel about it. 

Now for some semi-practical advice on having an undercut: 

1. Don't be shy with your make up: the bolder, the better.
2. What doesn't work, will grow out.
3. What's done is done. You have no choice but to rock the living hell out of it. Remember, you are in a most advantageous position. 
4. Invest in a hair clipper and bug your friends to shave your head instead of going to the salon every. Other. Week. 
5. It's easy to cover up if you only shave one-third of it.
6. Girls, you will finally understand why boys are so anal about getting haircuts all the time. It ain't called a fresh fade for nothin'.
7. Enjoy a harmless smirk to yourself every now and then when you encounter girls who tried to fake an undercut. Pussies.
8. Donate your hair to organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society or Locks of Love. Shaving your head should, in a perfect world, always be a choice. 


I may not know how I am going to grow this out, nor do I have the slightest idea how ridiculous I may or may not appear upon going through that awkward fluffy grow-out phase, but I have zero regrets. Barring all the "love the hair, dude", "wtf did you do to your head cover it right now", to a few silent-but-determined attempts to flip my hair over the offending bald spot, it's been a sick run.
Do what you want to do and own it. There is no other way to exist. 

November 28, 2013

swinery


Vanessa: H&M hat; vintage crop top; Diesel watch
Dané: Forever 21 necklace; vintage bustier; Wilfred silk shorts


There should be some sort of unspoken rule that all fridge-raiding activities must occur sans pants. Being a bum automatically dictates that one should be in underwear. Case in point: both of your favorite bloggers showed up half-dressed upon deciding that our location of choice today was to be my very ill-stocked fridge. 

"I'm kind of not wearing an outfit outfit..."
"It's okay. I'm not wearing any pants."

Word.

October 21, 2013

instawhores

I am technologically clueless: the crowning example being that I adamantly refused to part with my dilapidated Blackberry 9700 until it stopped working altogether and I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the alien world of touchscreen phones. Front camera? All the better to #selfie with, my dear. I probably spent about three hours taking pictures of myself, pleased as punch I no longer had to trial-and-error my way into being photogenic. At the risk of sounding like some unfortunately backwards caveman, I was tossed into social media sensory overload once I converted to an iPhone (Twitter! Instagram! Tumblr!) The social media world suddenly took on more color: every aspect of the lives of everyone I knew, sort-of knew, disliked, and haven't the slightest clue about, presented in all their crystal-clear retina display glory with as much pomp and circumstance as you please.

I now take pictures of food before I eat it. I update my Twitter with mainly self-centered, surely intellectually-detrimental and occasionally vacuous statements.  I have a hashtag for my own goddamn cooking. I #selfie'd. And there was one slightly shameful period where I attempted to exercise and posted all of my "healthy" cooking, Mayfair filter and all, replete with #healthyeating hashtags. I still sigh in relief that I at least had the common sense not to post any pictures of myself in a sports bra and earphones, weights conveniently placed so they lie in a picturesque (but nonchalant!!) pile in the lower left corner of a full-length mirror and then: #fitness #progress #squatlow #dropitlow #strongisthenewskinny (an arguable statement, but I digress) #motivation #liftheavyorgohome. Also shopping bags. I did not post any shopping bags. 

.... Okay, so maybe this is going to be focused on Instagram.



The initial (fine, eight-month-long) fascination I had with this particular social media outlet is beginning to wear off. I found myself getting increasingly annoyed while scrolling through my news feed, but for the life of me couldn't figure out why. Even now, I feel I won't be able to put my finger on the exact reason as successfully as I wish, so you may in for a bit of a convoluted read.

Perhaps it's best to start with a real-life example. 

Imagine a post of a normal, nondescript fruit salad.
Not particularly staged nor well-photographed; grapes, haphazardly cut melons, strawberries... 

Now, imagine comments regarding the aforementioned salad: 
"OMGAWD grapes!!!" 
"So ahmaayyzing" 
"I wish I had a salad like that" (I'm gonna go out on a limb here, but you totally can?)

Now, I don't mean to belittle anyone's taste in salad, nor do I mean to be insulting when confronted with the possibility of someone else's overwhelming affection for grapes, and I would never dream of poking fun at you if a bowl of fruit so happens to be the very thing that gets you off. But how "ahmaayyzing" is it really?

I'm afraid this poor bowl of fruit now has one more responsibility to bear asides from ruling the hearts of a few ardent fans and offending my sensibilities: while I don't take these comments seriously (some people must feel strongly about fruit, I'd imagine), the almost physically-tangible cloak of idiocy surrounding this picture pretty much ignited a strange WTF epiphany moment. The salad pissed me off, yes. But at least now I have a clearer idea of why I am generally pissed off upon entering our filtered wonderland of selfies and dinners. 

We've turned into a generation of attention whores and humble braggers: sadly (and not always consciously) clamoring to gauge our self-worth in the form of likes and followers. Our social media feeds serve as digital portfolios of every new acquisition: clothes, cars, a bag from some poor bastard; we show off how fit we are, how dedicated we are, how healthy we are, how successful we are. And need I mention the ubiquitous vacation photo, where all we see are some girl's upper thighs pointing towards a blue sky and palm trees with the following hashtags or others in a similar vein: #gettingatan #whathappensinvegas #staysinvegas?

Social media creates this inexplicable need (not to mention makes exceedingly easy) to show everyone how perfect our lives are. The sad thing is, they're not. The fucked up thing is, people will still believe us. We are constantly shoving the most glorious parts of our lives into our social media accounts whilst bathing in the secondhand fortunes of others doing the same. As a blogger, social media pretty much makes up the entirety of what we do, and one of the most annoying things I have discovered is that we tend to make things look/sound much better than they actually are. e.g. "Hey, we're having so much fun at this attention whore convention!! LOOK AT THIS GUYS" Well, no... no, it wasn't that awesome. But thanks to a few strategically taken shots at great angles and a hazy filter, it sure as hell looks like it. Lesson learned: no matter how it may look, nobody is shitting rainbows and riding unicorns. Our own humble patch of grass may be green enough, but everyone else's seems to have a fucking villa on it sporting a moat and a flock of flamingos.  

Now, I am in no way suggesting that something like a fruit bowl, however well-executed it may be, is a beacon of personal achievement. But we fall into the trap of believing the glamorization of everyone else's digitally edited lives that we start to covet what we do not own, the lifestyles we do not have, the people we cannot be. This idolatry has spun so out of control that we not only admire somebody, but we think it's okay to unabashedly display a shameless desire to emulate everything they have, be it their lunch or the shit coming out their ass. It seems that what's admired and what isn't is so skewed from all the subtle (or not-so-subtle) bragging we do that it has created a mentality unique to our generation: we want what other people have, with more fervor than ever before. We want, even more so, for other people to want what we have; and in order for people to want what we have, we feel that we need to have what they have. It's a vicious cycle, overflowing with victims of both heady narcissism and debilitating insecurity/envy (have I lost you yet?).


What else explains an Instagram photo of designer shopping bags/boxes (at least show us what's inside)? A handbag, jacket or similar purchases, carefully laid out with tags intact, captioned with something like "I couldn't resist #newbaby #shopaholic #badhabit"? A #bossy hashtag following a photo of something a girl bought herself, independent of male aid (it doesn't make you a boss. It just means you fall into that happy place most decent people occupy of not being a golddigging whore). A "progress photo" after 3 days at the gym? How about the much beloved/hated post of #selfie infamy, posted with a carefully self-deprecating caption along with a clusterfuck of hashtags that contradict the whole humility thing: "being a ragamuffin today #selfie #asian #girl #smile #bedhead #nomakeupnoproblem #mornings #hot #cute #awesome #ighunnies"? ...What gives?



INSTAFAUX-PAS INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:

1. The acceptance speech 


That "thanks to my boyfriend for the bouquet of roses and #Tiffany charm bracelet! #luckygirl #sohappy #inlove #boyfriend #couple" isn't, as I'm sure we all realize, so much as a thank you than the digital equivalent of driving around with a loudspeaker. I'm certain there are more private and arguably more satisfying ways to display affection and gratitude towards a significant other. An Instagram post is a pretty shitty way to show gratitude. I mean, that's really the only reason why someone would do this, right? Because they haven't done it in person already? And their phones suddenly couldn't call/text/WhatsApp/BBM/Facebook message, but can only upload pictures? You received a gift, not an Oscar. Nobody needs to hear you thank anyone except for that one single person who deserves it. 


2. The retail catalog



New bag? Have some class: rock it in an outfit instead of tastelessly putting the bag, its dust bag, the shopping bag it came in, tissue paper and gift wrap on display. All it's missing is the receipt. (I'm going to put what little faith I have left in humanity and assume that nobody includes the receipt). Do yourself a favor and just don't. It's tacky. Not to mention netaporter.com will probably have better photos of it from multiple angles (plus there's zoom!) 

3. The like-motivated instathlete


Posting pictures of ourselves at the gym does not, sadly, make us any more fit. Nor do #fitness hashtags. Nor does a holier-than-thou, self-righteous attitude. One may argue that it helps with the whole issue of accountability: but incredibly, people were working out before we had social media. #gains were had, even without updating 500 people who probably don't need to know, nor give half a flying fuck about, your work out routine or how many days you've completed on your #30daysquatchallenge. Groundbreaking stuff, really (don't forget, you heard it here first). In a nutshell: ladies, boys will check out an ass if said ass is a nice ass. This is a fact of life that's as unshakable as how much they also like tits. There's no need to stress out and be all, "but they need to know HOW MANY SQUATS I'VE DONE!!!" And to those with drastic results who want to show it off? Go nuts, you've earned it and then some. Just don't try to give us any unsolicited details as to how you got there. Sometimes a little mystique goes a fucking long way.

4. The shitty cheftographer


As for me, I should probably try to eat my food more than I document it. I mean, nobody really needs to witness most of my culinary struggles. Most people eat three meals a day, and that's hardly momentous enough of an occasion to warrant a picture. Breakfast! Lunch! Dinner! If your food looks like shit, don't post it. Even if it doesn't, I'm sure nobody really cares. I've definitely been guilty of the "DON'T TOUCH IT YET LET ME TAKE A PICTURE" as well as the accompanying extensive ingredient list that for some reason, a lot of us seem to think is necessary. At least I don't do the whole #wifey #gf #homemaker #cook #suchagoodgirl #becauseicanholdafryingpan #microwavemaster #putaringonme #prettyplease? Have I redeemed myself a little? Not really? Okay. 


What is social media, really? A place where everyone and anyone is a self-proclaimed digital celebrity; a place to scrutinize and be scrutinized; a place where attention equals currency. Ultimately, simply a place where we flaunt our shit to other people and creep on the shit other people flaunt. Profound, no? Having said that, allow me to return yet again to the example of our much-esteemed fruit bowl: it's a fucking bowl of fruit. Let us all not be so easily impressed and take it with a grain of salt. 

September 6, 2013

basic, as in simple

(because anyone who uses the word "basic" as an insult are usually no different from their object of disdain)



Vanessa: Yankees cap; American Apparel tank; Abercrombie shorts; Zara heels
Dané: Brandy Melville bralette and tank; Rag & Bone jeans; Club Monaco socks; Converse sneakers

In a rare attempt to have some outfit coordination/cohesion for this post, Dané and I decided to dress in our "basics." The funny thing about a common theme is that we will always interpret it differently. As Dané sauntered into my house as if she's ready for camping and pizza, it struck me that despite our "theme", we were still hilariously mismatched. Somehow I still felt (and probably looked) more dressed up despite sporting the most basic of basic outfits: a cap, sheer white tank and threadbare denim shorts. Our point? Expressing a renewed appreciation of the formula for insta-fancy: add heels and wear lipstick.