Le Soleil Levant Part 3


Check out Part 1 & 2 Here

I sit in the hotel room, slowly pulling my gloves off of my fingers. Despite the shade provided by the lace-edged curtains, sweat rolls down my forehead like raindrops sliding down a windowpane. I stare at the letter, wrinkled from reading it time and time again. I know it by heart, every word, even the curves in the black ink across the paper. Looks like she wrote it in a hurry, under pressure. She didn’t seem under pressure when I saw her . . . just not in the best shape.

All right. She was miserable. Don’t think I’ve ever seen Marie miserable in all the years we spent together in that old, white plantation house with the painted rooms and ice tea sweating on the kitchen counter every summer afternoon. Days spent running around barefoot in the fields with our braids streaming behind us like the tails of a kite. Nights tucked in the same bed, whispering about the latest gossip in town or the new dresses Daddy was getting us for some special Christmas party and so on and so forth. I’d like to say we were close. Different, yes, but close. I know my sister.

And that wasn’t my sister up in that house.

She didn’t even look the same. I could see traces of the old Marie in her: the curling ringlets, porcelain complexion, and that prideful spark in her warm, brown eyes. Her coppery voice was always the same: cold one moment and warm the next. She was thinner than I had ever seen her in my life. Her eyes weighed heavy into her face like a pair of sinkholes. Her lips were cracked, her nails chipped, her hair oily. Everything about her just seemed tired and broken, like a toy that’s been left up in the attic for far too long.

It’s the house, I swear. Something about the way it keeps you wandering, stuck in a maze of some sort. The fog it put on everyone in there, sending them off to a groggy land of dreams. All those people, like phantoms and ghosts, wandering in and out of the house as if something keeps them stuck there, keeps them from passing on into the next world.

I fall back onto the comforter, staring at the tiled in the ceiling.

I can’t just leave her there. Not in that place. Daddy wouldn’t care that she’s . . . well, not his sweet, innocent baby anymore. He’d take her back without blinking twice.

I fish the two train tickets off the desk and toss them back down. I came here to get my big sister and I’m not going back without her. It wouldn’t just be a failed mission, it’d be desertion, like I left her behind as some prisoner of war. I swear, it’s something about that house and those people in it that keeps her there. If I could just talk to her again, get her alone, maybe I could get some sense in her. Maybe I could make her see that nothing holds her to that place; she can come home anytime she wants.

What’s keeping her in that place? Maybe the man in her bed was her lover and she can’t bear to leave him. Maybe . . . maybe she owes a debt and has to stay to pay it off. Whatever the reason, I’m sure there’s a way out of it. There’s always a way out.

I toss the train tickets into the desk drawer and start undressing. I’m not getting on that train without her and if she won’t come home with me tomorrow, then I’ll just wait here until she changes her mind. New Orleans isn’t the worst place to spend a little time, especially since I’ve long since needed a break.

Sitting down at the desk, I pull out some pen and paper, addressing the letter to Daddy.

I found Marie and she’s doing just fine. She’s made plenty of friends and doesn’t seem to want to come yet, so I’m going to stay and wait till she’s up and ready. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. Tell everyone I love and miss them.

            -Sincerely, Susannah

Takes seconds for me to fold up the letter into an envelope, address it, stamp it, and pass it off to a bellboy to stick in the mail.

I give it a week before Marie caves and comes back home with me. Three months is hardly long enough to find any real attachment to this place, especially if you spend all your time in Soleil Levant.

Upcycle Old Magazines Into A Personalized Lookbook


This is for people who still have the Vogue September issue from 2005. Honey, it’s time to clean house.

I know how hard it is to toss that three year-old Nylon with Emma Watson on the cover into the trash-bin—it’s painful, yes, but possible. And lucky for you, I’ve discovered a way you can clear away the fashion-mag clutter while still holding onto style tips from years ago. Turn your old fashion magazines into cool, personalized lookbooks.

Here’s what you’ll need:


  • 3-ring binder
  • All your old fashion magazines
  • Hole-puncher

1. Tear Out Your Favorite Looks From Old Magazines


This is the time-consuming part. You’ve got to sift through the burgeoning hoard of glossy style-Bibles and carefully rip out those pages that immediately catch your eye. For me, it’s always a black-on-black pantsuit. I can never pass those up.

2. Carefully Hole Punch Your Selected Pages


3. Enter The Pages Into The Binder


Just slide the pages into the binder and voila—your very own lookbook!

And when that binder starts getting a little too full, start another one! Before long, you’ll have a curated selection from a variety of fashion magazines that alludes to your very own personal style. And more shelf space.







Don’t Stand So Close To Me: The Guide To Leaving Me Alone


[Cue the mood music]

I’m a social person. I scored almost a 50/50 on that introvert/extrovert test because, while I do adore turning up in da club and hanging out in big groups and talking for hours, I sincerely appreciate my alone time. And there is nothing worse than that alone time being unwanted-ly interrupted.


So, for all of those wonderful people out there in my life here is a guide for when you should leave me alone.


1. I Am Reading A Book

If I am curled up like a itty-bitty kitty-cat on the couch with my Pillow Pet under my head, my cheetah print robe snuggled around my shoulders, and a nice, fat tome of something old and classic in my hands DO NOT sit down before me and plunge into a story about the random girl who would not stop talking to you in line at Starbucks. I love you, I do. But at this moment, I’m in my happy place and I could care less about the girl in line at Starbucks. I’ll care in 30-minutes when I’m finished with this chapter.


2. I Have Headphones On

I feel like this should be the universal sign for “Leave Me Alone,” but some people still do not get the memo. I’m not angry with you. I’m just not in the mood to do anything but stare at the ceiling while listening to Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave album on repeat. Each time I have to pause the iPod to answer one of your questions that I missed because I am currently otherwise occupied increases my irritation ten-fold. So just don’t do it.


3. I Am Sleeping

Really? This should be a no-brainer. Unless the apartment is burning down or you’ve suddenly sliced your hand open with a pair of scissors while scrap booking and you’re bleeding all over the place, don’t wake me up.


4. I Am Surrounded By Books With Menacing Titles And Currently Look Like Death (AKA Studying for Midterms/Finals)

Sometimes, I can be the social study-buddy who takes frequent breaks to chat and sip our iced teas while trying to get the attention of the cute barista across the café.

This is not one of those times.

If I am at the center of a circle of very large books and notebooks and binders and Index cards, I am most likely in the midst of intense studying. If I look like I haven’t showered in a couple of days, I probably haven’t. If I have a milkshake in front of me, that’s because this is the only thing that gets me through my darkest studying hours. Do not approach me. Do not speak to me. If it is urgent, you may send your note on a paper airplane and see if I choose to reply. The upside is that I’ll probably be in the mood to party for days after this rough spell is over and you will have my undivided attention.


5. I Specifically Tell You To Leave Me Alone

If I say, “I’d like to be alone” or “Please leave me alone,” I don’t mean it as a suggestion. I don’t mean it as an option. I mean leave me alone.

I’m not the only one. There are millions of people out there who sometimes, just want to be left alone. It doesn’t mean we don’t love you. It doesn’t mean who wish you any ill will or that we’re currently angry with you. It just means we need some time to charge ourselves up before we engage in any more human interaction. Don’t take it personal. Just leave us alone.


How to Dress Like Suzy Bishop


Margo Tenenbaum is the quintessential Wes Anderson style icon, but let’s not forget her younger, just-as-stylish counterpart—Suzy Bishop from Moonrise Kingdom.


Her solemn, cool demeanor that evokes something of an Effy Stonem vibe (for all our Skins fans out there) combined with girlish pastels, lacy socks, and Peter Pan collars is what makes her style that much more enviable. And don’t forget your beetle earrings.

MoonRise_Blog2Here are a couple of ways to get Suzy’s style:

dressFound at modcloth.com

socksFound at urbanoutfitters.com

shoesFound at aldoshoes.com

earringsFound at https://www.etsy.com/listing/221620236/real-jewel-beetle-dangle-earrings-green?ref=hp_mod_rf

For more Suzy Bishop inspired pieces, check out my Suzy Bishop Pinterest board!

Lyric Mash-Up


New game: turn your favorite lyrics from songs into an awesome poem. Here’s my first:

If the sun was God

If the ocean was the devil

If you start me up

If I die young

If they call on me

If you want to make the world a better place

And if you’re still breathing

Thanks to The Neighborhood, Michael Jackson, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Rolling Stones, The Band Perry, and Daughter for the lyrical inspiration!

Got any lyrical mash-ups of your own?

An Abundance of Blondes


Woolworth’s is one of my favorite places in Bakersfield. The quiet diner, glimmering sapphire and amethyst brooches behind glass cases, vintage Powerpuff Girls tin lunch boxes rusting on a shelf next to a fat, studded belt buckle featuring a bald eagle. I love getting lost in a confusing maze of old things clinging to dust until someone pulls them from a shelf and reinstates them into relevancy. The last time I visited the place, I wandered into an alcove that seemed like a semi-shrine to Marilyn Monroe.

There was a giant, framed black-and-white print of Marilyn in a glimmering white dress, smiling mischievously. Then, a shelf of smaller prints featuring Marilyn in different poses, her blonde hair coiffed perfectly, her smile sublime. There she was, everywhere, staring at me.

MTE5NTU2MzE2MzIyMTA0ODQzImage: www.biography.com

The thing is, her place isn’t only in the deep corners of Woolworth’s vintage supply. She’s on T-shirts printed at Forever 21 and in remake movies and hanging up in museums as Warhol’s muse. She’s ever present in our lives as this symbol of American beauty and sexuality that we just can’t get away from.

My mind drifts to the title of one of my favorite John Green books—An Abundance of Katherines—to the awareness of the dilemma that has recently struck me: An Abundance of Blondes. God, they’re everywhere. And as a girl who purchases Nylon and Vogue on the regular, I couldn’t help but notice their overwhelming presence in fashion magazines. Gigi and Karlie and Cara and Natalia and every other (beautiful, yes), but blonde, skinny piece of gorgeous that continue to echo Marilyn in so many frustrating ways. Years and years of progress and diversity and improved tolerance and still the symbol of beauty in our country is thought of as a Barbie-esque beauty queen.


Image: www.flickeringmyth.com

Vogue’s October issue heralded Reese Witherspoon as the icon for American beauty. Funny, though, that their January 2015 cover girl was a blonde (lovely Sienna Miller), June cover was a blonde (Amanda Seyfried), and the most recent August cover girl is also a blonde (Nicole Kidman). Now, before you say that’s not too many blondes, the others this year so far were all brunettes (save for a lovely appearance by Serena Williams on the cover of the April issue).

Buzzfeed recently featured a lovely article on beauty icons that weren’t Marilyn Monroe—thank the Lord. But isn’t also sad that someone has to remind us that beautiful comes in many more forms than the Monroe aesthetic? It’s not enough for us to know that there are other kinds of beautiful. We need to do something about it.

Where do I start? By putting some value in myself. By not doubting my own beauty because the girls who have been on the cover of Vogue for the past months have looked absolutely nothing like me. By reminding my little sisters every day that they are stunning, empowered, beautiful girls.

Featured image: stylenews.peoplestylewatch.com

So Not The Justice League You Know And Love


But I’m OK with that. Justice League Gods and Monsters may not have been the most stellar animated film I’ve seen from DC, but it’s on the right track. In a time where super heroes are rising in popularity, we don’t need more stories about the heroes we already know and love. These constant iterations of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman—whatever—fighting the same villains and suffering the same super struggles is starting to get old.

Now, like I said before, Gods and Monsters wasn’t the greatest flick. It was riddled with cheesy lines that made me want to cringe, however, the replacement of Clark Kent, Diana, and Bruce Wayne with completely new characters gave my inner geek something to squeal over. We need more of this: more origin stories of characters we’re unfamiliar with, more exploration into unknown worlds. Marvel’s doing it right on the big screen—giving us Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and characters most people have seldom heard of, much less cared for.

But with all of Gods and Monsters faults, I’m sold. Give me more of these stories, give me the chance to feel out these new characters, before I start getting bored with yet another worn-out origin story. It’s time to take some risks.

Featured image: youtube.com

What Happened Miss Simone?


It’s dangerous to talk about people we love and admire in a way that elevates them and worships them as a god among the rest of this. The dark, sharp, and insightful documentary “What Happened Miss Simone” on Netflix avoids this danger by plunging into the life and experiences of famed entertainer and activist Nina Simone with unabashed honesty.

This film glimpses Nina Simone’s life from her early childhood training, her tumultuous relationship with her husband, her work with the Civil Rights movement, and the raging, persistent struggle with her own personal demons. All these rises and dips in this one woman’s life punctuated with gorgeous clips of her performances over time, soaked in the unnervingly soulful sound of her voice.

Featured image: www.slashfilm.com