As I have iterated many times before, I am constantly seeking to try new things. Purely to keep from becoming boring (to myself at least; I assure you I am already there to many, more exciting people). This venture has had both rewarding and unfortunate consequences. I think this is because there is this unspoken understanding that the fresh, new thing you try must also be adventurous. This has often caused this somewhat less temerarious type, who most would refer to as an “indoor girl”, to spend the next several days walking with a pronounced limp after embarking on such enterprises. So, this time my novel endeavor will be a bit more in my wheelhouse. I have just bought monthly subscriptions to both Birchbox and Ipsy. These are online companies that provide subscribers with monthly goody bags containing different health and beauty products, for a monthly fee. In the world of “rope-’em-in subscriptions”, these are both a modest $10 per month. If at this moment, you’re all, “Lisa, do you honestly expect me to believe that you need to spend $20 a month on brow pencils and body lotion?”, or “Um, I am wondering why I have to listen to you bitch incessantly about being an impoverished grad student and then find you blowing your money away on high-end makeup and designer granola bars!!!”, I hear you. I’d also like to note that, given my bank account balance, this is possibly the most daring stunt I have yet undertaken. But rest assured that this is actually not the case. You see, I am currently on a waiting list for both companies’ coveted swag bags anyways. And, I can cancel my subscriptions at any time; so, get a couple, suspend my membership and use up what I received, and then get a couple more. Feel better? Also, given the fact that one blogger described these memberships as “like Christmas every month”, I don’t see that I had a choice. And yeah, this is not exactly “trying new things” : I have purchased and purposed makeup before. But strictly speaking, I could wash my face BEFORE brushing my teeth one day and literally be “trying something new”. I shall let you know how it goes…
I’ve been known to make some poor decisions. Not on par with Miss Monroe’s per se, but ironically, I made one of those poor decisions last week when I chose to stay up late watching “Love, Marilyn”, the latest addition to the HBO Documentaries Summer Series, instead of going to bed at a reasonable time. I had to be up at an ungodly hour the next morning, but I found it to be so enchanting and entrancing that I couldn’t look away. The documentary is based on a book entitled “Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters”, and like the title indicates, it is a never-before-seen collection of Marilyn’s writings recently unearthed at the home of her acting coach and mentor, the late Lee Strasberg. The film is directed by Liz Garbus and features notable names reading passages from Marilyn’s own writings. These include Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Viola Davis, and Uma Thurman (super unsurprisingly). It also has other actors reading passages and pieces from others who have either worked with or written about her including those by Pulitzer prize-winning author Norman Mailer*, wonderfully read by Ben Foster, and a highly entertaining exchange of letters between an exasperated Billy Wilder, director of “Some Like It Hot”, and playwright Arthur Miller, Marilyn’s third husband, as read by Oliver Platt. An excerpt: “Had you, dear Arthur, been not her husband but her writer and director and been subjected to all the indignities I was, you’d have thrown her out on her can, thermos bottle and all, to avoid a nervous breakdown. I did the braver thing — I had a nervous breakdown. Respectfully, Billy Wilder.”.
It is an inventive and ingenious approach that elevates this film over the other docs I’ve seen. This format is especially appealing to me because it is, in my opinion, the highest form of oral storytelling (a lost art)…by letting those whose occupation is acting be the storytellers.
And through it I’ve also discovered that Marilyn herself was actually a magnificent writer. It illuminates what I don’t think a lot of people understand about her. Namely, that she was an incredibly hard worker, a devoted reader who sought to learn about everything, and a remarkably intelligent (though troubled) person who actually created and maintained her well-known persona that eventually became her curse because it would not allow her to be what she truly sought to be: a dramatic actor who was taken seriously (although if this revelation is true, it makes her a brilliant actress, perhaps one of the best). I’ve dabbled a little in Marilyn mythology (according to this latest documentary, there have been literally thousands of books written about her); I’m more of a Jackie O girl! But what I think separates this film from most everything else about her is their decision to not treat her purely as a victim, of the Hollywood machine’s and the public’s desire to make her a thing that could be moulded into their embodiment of a sex symbol or a starlet (or a tragic heroine). Ironically, this film makes her into what she so yearned for: to be not a “beau ideal”, but a person with thoughts and feelings and desires of her own.
This is all interspersed with lovely photos, archival footage, and interviews with and excerpts from Marilyn herself. It is, in short, beautiful and just plain well-done.
* (And though I mention Norman Mailer’s biography, it is worth noting that he posits in the final chapter of his book that Marilyn was murdered by the FBI in retaliation for her affair with Bobby Kennedy. Just an FYI. I am far more excited to read Gloria Steinem’s 1987 biography, “Marilyn: Norma Jeane”.)
I acknowledge that it is both bizarre and somehow befitting (given the inherent kookiness of knitters) that the start of summer is marked for me by the annual Maryland Wool Festival. Because nothing says summer quite like a thick, knitted sweater. This May, I had my dear friend Sarah as company…and a game plan. Last year, if you’ll recall, I made my first trip there and found myself so inundated with vendors and choices that I was too overwhelmed to purchase anything and left shamefully empty-handed. An unacceptable outcome that I vowed not to repeat again. This year, I’d resolved to have ideas of the types of yarn I was looking for and a selection of projects for which I needed to buy yarn beforehand. Happily because of this*, history did not repeat itself, and I left this festival with armloads of goodies! Sarah turned out to be an impressively naughty influence, and the two of us bounced from one side of the festival to the other like heroin junkies after our next fix. Dazzled by bright colors and on a yarn-induced adrenaline rush**, I think we basically bought up all the teal and turquoise yarn on site.
(*= “Happily”, of course, refers only to me personally on this front, and it was in fact a decidedly unhappy ending for the Greek, my pocketbook, and the dearth of storage spaces in our home)
(**= Yes, for some, not necessarily those with the dotage or disposition of a little old lady, yarn really gets us going. Believe it and let it go.)
This time around, I seemed to pay the most attention to the animals when it came to where I pointed my camera lens. That may also be attributable to Sarah, from whom the shrillest of squeals could be heard and who was very nearly brought to tears by a trio of extremely good-natured Angora rabbits (shown below).
If you’re exclaiming to yourself right now, “Wow, that is a poofy creature!”, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that photos like this exist for this animal, making the specimens we were seeing in person, whose eyes I could not successfully locate, essentially bald by comparison.
I also learned of the proper way to hold a rabbit: facing towards you with all four paws on your chest and stomach. Well, there are, in actuality, a few ways to hold a rabbit (get a load of these achingly adorable instructions!), but the main idea is that you secure their legs. Get this, hold them facing outward with their back paws free, and they have ability to break their own spines if they kick their back paws into the open air (or rather, they lack the ability to not break their backs with the force of their own kicking). Not robust creatures, rabbits!
Some more furry friends…
Notice the double pairs of horns on these two! I’ve never seen that before!
Objecting ungulates abound!
The vendor was holding a 10-day-old newborn who was still nursing and thus would nibble on his collar. Beyond adorable!
And some dyed cashmere roving from his stand (Gorgeous!)…
Some old friends…
If you don’t recognize these skinny-necked guys, perhaps it was the angle with which I took last year’s photo of them…
And, of course, the stash:
I guess I should get knitting or something…