Monday, 3 December 2012

Feng-Shoe



Shoes have been a part of my persona for as long as I can remember. It’s been a life long love story - they complete me! Even though the first thing I do when I get home is kick off my shoes (I like being barefoot in the kitchen…) I will never leave the house without the perfect pair donning my feet. No outfit is quite finished without them.

When I was a little girl I was obsessed with ballet shoes, and my dear sweet mother allowed me to wear my little black ballet pumps till they fell off my feet in shreds. I wasn’t using them to dance after all, as I was kicked out of my ballet class at age 4 for being too uncoordinatedly tall…I had all these legs, and I wasn’t sure what to do with them yet, like a baby giraffe.


I owned a gorgeous little pair of silk slippers that were mine when I was a todler – they have Chinese dragon faces on them complete with string mustaches and even though I don’t actually remember wearing them, they have been a prized possession ever since. And there was even an era where I would only wear baby-doll ‘school shoe’ black flats with white bobby socks, come hell or high water. I never actually owned a pair of sequined ruby red shoes, but I dreamt about them a lot.  Like seriously, a LOT!


An article in this months VOGUE (UK edition) entitled ‘Which Shoe Are You?’ got me thinking about my shoe-drobe. The author of the article confesses to having a fetish for the ‘beautifully ugly’ and whereas I don’t think I have any ugly shoes - not anymore - the journey has not always been pretty. Thinking about all the shoes in my past and present, I have realized I have too many. Not that any woman could ever possibly have too many shoes, but there are days where I really do start to wonder about myself. The problem is that I have not always been able to afford the best quality, and that combined with my almost maternal attachment to each and every pair I ever owned, my cupboards tend to overflow with beautiful disasters. Quantity rather than quality. But as I grew up, so did my need for spending my money a bit more wisely…and my feet developed a taste for real leather and Italian-arched inners.

Husband very cleverly thought up a system for me that for every new pair I want, I should throw out 2 old pairs to make feng-shui space. That way I can always have nice new (better quality) shiny shoes and start to move along from the nameless tatty falling apart ones of my youth. When we renovated our home I got to design and build in my very own spice-rack shoe cupboard to try deal with space issues in the most effective fashion.


I was thrilled at the results, but of course, there was still not enough space for all my shoes. There had to be a mass toss out. It was very hard for me, but I got rid of 50 pairs of shoes. FIFTY! That’s 100 shoes who have been my friends, my children, my sole-mates through the past most tumultuous teen-to-adulthood years! The most exciting ones, with first date shoes, party shoes, break-up shoes, high fashion shoes, big mistake shoes. Pixie toed tire-track strap-on shoes. Spike heeled soccer boot lace-up shoes. Minnie mouse lacquered cartoonish shoes. Perspex clear plastic stripper shoes. Triple-decker Spice Girl sneaker shoes. Fake-snake platformed tranny shoes. Tinselly Christmassy shoes. Gothy Don’t-Call-Me-Babe knee-high shoes. Everything but the proverbial purple clogs! (anyone who idealized the movie Clueless should know what I mean)


It was way harsh having to get rid of so many, but Husband was right. Most of them were cracked, broken or just plain un-wearable. Some heels can only happen before age 33 after all. Besides, making space in my wardrobe is the only way for me to keep feeding the monster. And my monster will be fed! She wants Chanel! She wants Louboutin! She wants Jimmy Choo, and even though she has none of these yet, we are nesting and preparing place for when they arrive. (‘We’ being the royal we, of me, my feet, and the monster…) And so the Feng-Shoe continues.

Sadly I don’t have pictures of all the shoes I have parted with. A terrible oversight on my part, but from now on, I will be documenting the ones I have LONG before its time for them to go walkies.

Here are a few:

My Gwen Stefani heels. Worn by me mostly at ages 25 – 28, these girls combined funk with elegance. They were peep-toed before the peep-toe mania took the rest of the shoe industry by storm, ahead of their time. They used to take me dancing when I wore bottle green silken cropped cargo pants with a black strappy tank and patched golf hat that I stole from an ex. (one of the only good things to ever come out of that relationship!) They used to enjoy Black Eyed Peas and Christina Aguilera, while making their presence known at all the hot-spots in Rivoia and Sandton, JHB. The Gwen Stefani’s could take me to the movies on a first-date Friday night in jeans, hit the clubs on Saturday and then arrive a little disheveled and in need of bottled water at Sunday Family Lunch paired simply with a cute little T-shirt dress. They were all round weekenders and they made me OH so happy!


The Gladiator-Kimmies. I aliken these sky-high heels to the soullessness of Kim Kardashian. Ever so pretty, but cheap and nasty. These are just too high (Playmate of the Year kind of high) and just too plastic (Playmate of the Year kind of plastic) but still beautiful on. They are quite new, only 2 now, but they are aging in bunny years, so they are already a hundred and five. Love the look, but like most reality TV, there is only so much time one can dedicate ones self to trashy flashdom without ending up in a moral black hole. They are all look and no substance. They need to go.


The Pointe Baby-Dolls. Oh I love these! They have been around for a long time, but I don’t wear them that often. The problem being that they are one size too small. Wearing them makes my feet curl in and cramp up for days afterwards, which is no longer something I’m willing to do - all that often. But the little black on black ribbon that threads through the rim of these girls makes their baby-doll-ness just THAT much more adorable! They used to go best with a pair of black pinstriped short-shorts I used to wear pre-cellulite, and ended up in a few rather compromising photo-opportunities. Though they never did anything that was actually naughty or bad, they liked to do things that were ‘strange’.  Like Andy Warhol strange. Like take photos standing atop public toilet seats strange? Yes, that. I love them too much to part with them, even if all that they are good for these days is making my shoe-rack look pretty and reminding me of strange-days gone by.


I think that’s enough for now. I have some shoe-shopping to do so need to get off the computer… Perhaps this will need to be a series of sorts? With all the shoes that live in my cupboard, there is ample ammo there for a year-long series me thinks! We’ll see.

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

SHOPPING!



“Don’t be duped by sales; they are like mermaids who seduce and drag you to the bottom of the sea.” Anna Dello Russo

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I’m speaking, of course, about that iconic moment in any fashionista’s life, that ritual that is more holy and more sweet than dipping burned and blistered feet in pools of blessed water…I’m speaking of SHOPPING!

Like a moth to the flame, I have been drawn to shopping centers since the tender age of ‘Mommy can I PLEASE come with you to get the groceries, I will sit in the trolley and not touch anything I promise!’ Of course that was never the case. If I was taken with, I would spot any and every possible little twinkling trinket like a magpie with x-ray vision! My mother banned me from grocery shopping at age 5. Poor me, poor me, till the day I started to make my own money.

I grew up in a very poor family and my parents didn’t have the money to buy us toys or new clothes or sweets on a weekly basis like so many other children I knew. I lived in hand-me-downs (often from my brothers as I was taller than my big sister) and played in the garden with nature as my playthings. But once a month, my Dad would take one of us kids for a special ‘outing’ of quality time with him. There were 6 of us, so I got to go on my outing with Dad twice a year. This outing included a trip to Wimpey where I was allowed a Banana Boat, and then a trip to the shops with MONEY to spend! First it was R1 and I could buy any toy I wanted with it. It became R5 and then R10 by the time I turned 13 and the outings stopped, but I remember being so excited all those years, clutching my money in one hand, Dad’s hand in the other, and scouting for the very best ‘buy’ I could find. It was sheer joy.



And SALES! Wow. Well that’s just one notch up! Finding that pair of dove grey knee high rounded toe pearl skin boots at Nine West ON SALE in my size brings all those childhood memories rushing back of Daddy taking me on a sugar high to buy a toy just for me! I mean, I like mermaids too, so if I’m going to be dragged to the bottom of the ocean, what a way to go right?!


To this day I get a sense of euphoria every time I walk into a shop. I find it so much fun just to be there. With or without money, I love looking and seeing and (yes, also) touching everything. It’s no wonder I became a sales rep and spent 6 years of my adult life working in those shopping centers, rushing from one to the next to the next, day in day out, building displays and setting up my products in places where they were in most danger of being purchased. I know the inside of a shopping center like the back of my hand – they just make sense to me. Put me on the street and I loose my direction all the time, but if you drop me in the middle of a brand new shopping center, no matter where, I will be able to find my way around instantly. (Husband gets horribly lost even in the same centers we go to all the time!)

So I know this is a problem for me, or so my maxed out credit card keeps telling me, but still, I love it. I just love shopping. No matter what for. Even a trip to the grocery store fills me with irrational glee. We need light-bulbs and garden hose? No problem! I’ll go SHOPPING! We need sugar and toilet paper? No worries – I’ll go SHOPPING! What’s that, Husband? You need shaving cream and socks? Allow me. I’ll go SHOPPING! Cat food? I’ll go…

…you get the point.

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Think For Yourself

My Grandmother, Mary Haig, was a writer. She was so much more than just that, but if I had to start writing about my granny, this blog post would last forever. Snippets will just have to do for now. October was her birthday month, and so it was only appropriate timing to start putting up things from her life. I found this article she wrote for a magazine in 1943 and thought I would share it:


Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Friday, 28 September 2012

Yay Clothes!



(Once a month I submit a piece to be published on the blog SaySomethingToo. Each month we are given a topic, and each month we write what ever our little hearts desire - so long as it is on that topic or somehow related. This month the topic was Clothes, which was wonderful! This was my submission:)

For original article go to www.saysomethingtoo.me

YAY CLOTHES

Wow. Clothes. Fashion. And yes, SHOES! I am, and always have been, a bit of a clothes nut. From trying desperately to Couture-up the dismal hand-me-downs I was forced to wear while growing up, to spending a few of my magic size-ElleMcPherson years being a clothes horse for the modeling industry, to matching my 30 something self, who is not quite ready to leave my 20 something ensembles behind, to a more ‘mature’ me. (read: short skirts are still short, but no longer belt-like) I wondered with utmost glee what I would write about this month!? I mean I ask you, how can I do justice to this amazing topic? This Holy-Grail of blogging? This place of pure passion! CLOTHES!

A brief history if I may. Whereas my friends had posters of Richard Dean Anderson and a much younger Jonny Depp donning their walls, my teenage wall, roof to floor, was pasted in a perfect check-print of pages cut out of the fashion sections of magazines. Clothes and shoes. When I first started working in an office building, I already had my new work wardrobe planned and laid out before they even called to say I got the job! Clothes and dangerously high heels. When my husband decided to teach me how to fish, I was mostly excited at the prospects of getting a whole new outfit! Clothes and pink rubber fishing boots. Then there was the Sex And The City obsession in the nineties. Was I a daring Carey or a conservatively cute Charlotte? Pretty much all my life has been a never ending line of what shall I wear today? Which outfit, what mask, what fun character am I in the mood to play? Audrey Hepburn in ballet pumps, tights and stripes? Or Marilyn in voluptuous revealing sequence?


Even my internet usage is about 50% fashion related, 50% everything else. I follow anything and everything on Twitter that gets my wardrobe-mania’s attention (Damsel in Dior, Urban threads, Pursuit of Shoes) even if the tweets are never as satisfying as the names of the tweeters. My collection of fashion blogs whom I visit regularly help satisfy a craving for beautiful things that I could never own, or never pull off with my couloring… (Gala Darling. My Luscious Life) I enjoy a good book with a fashion flavor (A Vintage Affair. The Devil Wears Prada) And then of course there is the general observation and keen following of certain TV series where clothes feature and I drool all over almost every episode. (Revenge. Gossip Girl)


 Clothes have been such a huge part of my life, my identity, my very core, that the idea of writing about them was somewhat intimidating.

Then, fortunately, the September issue of Marie Claire (SA) came to my rescue. An article titled ‘ME is the new black’ filled me with inspiration. I loved it! It was filled with modern-day truths, not so much about clothes, but about personal branding. And as an ex Brand Manager, this was right up my alley! The new trend that is branding and spreading ones self across the interwebs, was summed up in a phrase I love (and shall steal) by Dion Chang, ‘Techno-Narcissism’.

“Twitter and other social-media platforms give people a sense that their opinions matter more. Before, one used to become aware of one’s own brand when dropping off a CV but now even a nine-year-old can be aware of their personal brand through a Twitter feed.”

The article went on to talk about branding in the fashion industry, and the movement towards personal labels. It got me thinking. Karl Lagerfeld by Karl Lagerfeld. Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood. Donatella Versace by Donatella Versace. Ralph Lauren by Ralph Lauren. We even have our very own Gavin Rajah creations by Gavin Rajah.

And so (allow me if you will to coin my own phrase) I came up with Textile Narcissism. If Victoria Beckham can do it, why can’t I? Not quite on the same scale as an internationally launched fashion house, but much like the fact that Twitter lives in the back pocket of every tween to adult on the street, PamiPants was born!

PamiPants Home Edition - schluffing pants

Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t mean to and haven’t started my own fashion label. I don’t mean to ever make clothes for other people. And I certainly don’t mean to stop shopping! (Sorry, Husband) But thanks to my excessively long and impossible-to-shop-for legs, my irritation with the fashion that is out there, the quality going down as fast as the price goes up not to mention nothing fits! and to my older and wiser sense of style (no, I will NOT be wearing those butt-cleavage jeans anymore thank you! I prefer to keep my love handles and delicates to myself!) it was inevitable that I would eventually learn how to make my own clothes.

I have been doing just that for the past few months, starting with, of course, the thing I needed the most, long pants. Hence PamiPants. I have had so much fun with this, getting tips off YouTube, asking sales assistants at fabric stores for advice and even plundering my mothers old pattern collection she built as a young adult before babies (the high waisted, super slim, uber long, 70’s flowey pants are AMAZING! I cant wait to try make them.) Each item gets finished off with a pocket that has a simple ‘pami’ embroidered onto it, just to separate my own personal brand from the rest of the pack, and to add a little fun. And, I suppose, to pander to the textile narcissism that this whole project is bringing out in me. Yay clothes!

Pami pockets - the kitty pajama pants
Beach toga for bikini season

Extra-long ruffled ankle pami tights
Silky pami-jammies


(You will notice I am working my way up here. Started with easy, stretchy, casual. Then tried my hand at more delicate fabrics. Next I am going to tackle putting in a zip on a garment, my very own jeans and then making a dress! Stand back Christian Dior ;) Wish me luck blog-verse.)


Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Hello Kitty Corner: The Snow White Rule

Is it just me, or is there a whole lot of etiquette that is being ignored in the world? I could write reams and reams here, a book of How To Be, but in the interest of saving time, lets just get down to the point.

In today's Hello Kitty Corner, Cherry Blossom is going to teach you a little thing about what to wear to a children's Birthday party, when you are in fact a children yourself. I had the pleasure of attending a 4 year old Birthday party today, and above all the party favors, the balloons, the streamers and the pink frosting, the thing that mostly left an impression on me was an outfit worn by one little girl, or rather, the choice made by her mother. Or rather, the audacity of said mother.

The thing was, it was a Snow White party. And so Birthday Girl, (aka my god child) got to be Snow White for the day. She had her cute little dress-up-outfit down to the satin ribbon in the hair. All that was missing was a bird or a rabbit or a deer waiting on her every need. But basically, for all intensive purposes, she was the very embodiment of Snow White for this, her 4th Birthday party. It was all perfect and sweetness and non-ApplePie...till this other little girl arrived. Dressed in a snow white outfit too. It was not a dress up party.

Still, never one to turn down an opportunity to dress up, I would have been willing to accept a play-along dress code for this little guest. A Dwarf outfit would have been cool. Heck, the Wicked Witch would have rocked! Even a Magic Mirror ensemble would have won my praise. But a snow white outfit, when she is not the birthday girl?

Oh. No. She. Didn't!


HELLO!?!? Am i the only one who thinks that this is the 4 year old drive-by equivalent of wearing a bridal gown to a wedding when you are not the bride? AWKS!

Serously Moms, not cool. Next time you take your little princess to a party that isn't in her honor, please try to remember that there are a few other princesses out there and that yours isn't the only one to walk the earth. Such is life. Step aside. Wait for your moment. THEN throw all the glitter you want and hope that another mom doesn't arrive with her glitter-throwing abilities all up in your face.

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Girl Crush Gwednesday: Gwen Stefani

Call it ska, call it indie, call it pop – what ever it is, this girl can ROCK! And my favorite part? She does it in heels.

If i had to sit down and pick one female figure who had the most influence over my life, (other than Tori Amos) style and even boyfriend choices, Gwen Stefani would be it.

Her persona radiated into my world when my usual attire consisted of doc martin boots, tiny teenage shorts and funky stockings – the weirder the better! Gwen, front woman of No Doubt, appealed to my adolescent self in the hit song Just a Girl because i identified with her wholly and completely. She wore an intensely fun and feminie get-up of perfect make-up, pearls, cherry-red short-cut nails, flat chested belly tank tops and big camo cargo pants with boots. Her best friend was her brother. She was the girl who could hold her own with the boys. And she wore a bindi.


Listening to Tragic Kingdom while rollerblading around good old South African suburbia, i was that Californian beach-bleached blonde damsel in docs. And even though i could never pipe it out like her, i sang my way though all No Doubts subsequent albums, right into my adult years.


 At the turn of the millennium, while i was on a working visa in America, all the stars and fairies aligned and i got to go see No Doubt play, live, on their Return of Saturn tour. The 90’s were over. The music was edgier. The boyfriend was adorably wholesome. And my foot was broken in the mosh-pit. That was the BEST concert experience of my life! i couldn’t believe i was this close to my teen-fan alter-ego obsession! Gwen, of course, was solely responsible for my burning desire to dye my hair pink.


 Then, when Mz Stefani went solo and released Love Angle Music Baby (L.A.M.B.) we met again, kindred spirits, but this time in high heels and skinny jeans. Our slouchy boy pants and flat boots had been replaced by six-inch leopard print creations and sky-high hemlines. Nails were French tipped and boys gave way to the men of my dreams. OK, sometimes nightmares. But Gwen got me through; Her light hearted, up-beat sound never failing to pick me up after even the worst failed relationship.


Girlfriend and i both went through a gold-glitter-ghetto phase together. Harajuku Girls sparked my eventual trip to Tokyo. Rich Girl was the inspiration for the pirate-girl outfit at my brother-in-law’s 21’st Birthday surprise dress-up party. Underneath it All encouraged me to prolong a relationship with an otherwise not so lovely man, and Simple Kind of Life echoed my own internal clock. i can guarantee she is up there as my future mom style icon too.


 Upon hearing the news that Gwen Stefani and No Doubt were teaming up again after 11 long years with a new album, Push and Shove, i couldn’t be more excited!


Gwen and i are now both married to our soul mates, she is as classy and sassy as ever, and i cant wait to see what else my old friend and i have in common through the music. Pre-ordering this one for sure!


No matter where Gwen and i end up, probably two purple-washed white haired ladies in viscose, i know that thanx to Don't Speak, i will have a soft spot for a navy blue and white polka dot cinch waisted sun dress till the day i die.



Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Eat Chocolate


Weight and over-eating has been an issue with women, i imagine, since the beginning of time. Or, perhaps, since the first time cave-Husband dragged in a dead wooly mammoth, made fire, and cave-wife figured out how to skin and sauté the thing. Regardless of when it all started, there is no woman around in the modern world who has not at one point in her life looked at her body and thought, “Shucks, i should really do something about this.”

Regardless of where it came from, either hormonal attacks, or thyroid problems, heartbreaking bastards, winter-comfort food séances, claims of ‘i’m just big boned’ or simply because it was filled with jam – women have a problem with food. We eat to fill a hole that don’t need fillin’!

i never knew i had a problem, though, till recently. For the last three years, in fact.

Being a naturally tall, somewhat slender person, i spent most of my life up till recently being the thin girl with the healthy appetite. But before you all start throwing your half eaten chocolate bars at me and label me ‘skinny bitch’, know that i really am one of you now. i am a self-made convert, i saw the light in my heaviness - i do fee your pain! i have watched my scale creep up kilo by kilo over the past few years, and let me tell you, it has not been a pretty journey.


 i discovered my once hot little hip huggers became muffin top pants. Choosing a bikini, which used to be all about stripes verses spots, was suddenly all about how much of the cellulite will it hide. Stretchy jeans? Less a fashion statement and more of a necessity when i went up a dress size with no money for new clothes. And i could literally feel my once ‘leetle’ rear-end follow me around with ever growing presence!

Yip, i was getting fat. i had not only one, but many ‘Shucks, i should really do something about this’ moments. Then finally, when the scale tipped what i consider to be unacceptable (i will not put actual weights in here for fear of judgement and discrimination) i decided it was time to get serious. i realized the problem was partly that i was eating too much, but mostly that i did not care what it was that i ate. i was eating irresponsibly and there-by damaging my body. It's not about being thin, its about being healthy, and excess fat rolls are just our body's way of crying out to us, saying 'please help, please save me, please feed me better!'


 Diets are a joke. Seriously, people, diets are bad bad BAD for you. Yes i heard about those little pills that diminish your appetite and supposedly really don’t do anything bad to you, just stop you from craving food… Really? Things that are so packed full of caffeine and much, much worse that send your heart rate through the roof are good for you? Uh, no. I don’t think so. They actually put strain on your internal organs and basically just cause havoc to your poor inner-body. i have also heard ‘Eat just protein, lean protein it really makes you break down your fat faster and you don’t feel hungry and you can live for ages on boiled eggs and lean skinless chicken breast’… Wrong again. Meat only diets are picking up more and more flack as research shows the link between them and higher levels in cholesterol as well as other health problems. There are even links between meat only diets and hormonal problems. i would go so far as to say, attitude problems! (no seriously, its true.) It's not good for you to eat only one food group. Sure you might loose weight initially, but at what cost later?

So no. Diets are not for me. i love and respect my body too much.


 AND SO, i have been trying to go back to what my mother taught me. Eat Healthy. Eat a well balanced diet. And eat as many ‘natural, unprepared’ things as possible. WHAT A REVELATION!

The less processed a food, the better it is for your body. All it takes to eat this way, making sure you are getting all your nutrients, vitamins and minerals and pretty much everything else you actually need to eat food for, is a little Googling and some personal admin. i started researching these natural foods and found that my problem with anemia that i have been battling most of my teen-to-adult life can be helped by natural foods. No more supplements. Brussels spouts have more vitamin C in them than most citrus fruits. Who would thought?
Broccoli is so high in calcium that it should be called an honorary dairy product! Not to mention it helps protect from prostate, colon, urinary bladder, pancreatic, and breast cancers! And don't even get me started on the wonders of peppers...


 Natural foods are fascinating! i am really loving learning all i can about it now, so that one day, when there are mini-me’s running around, i can feed them a well thought out, well balanced diet too, just like my mom used to and i took for granted all these years.

Pairing this with calorie counting has made my life so much easier. Now i don't need to wonder 'am i eating because i am hungry?', because i can count my way through the day. i use an app on my iPhone called ‘MyFitnessPal’ (you can get it on android too) It helped me realize just how many calories things have in them, and has not so much stopped me from eating certain foods (though it definitely has done that) as it has allowed me to start eating things i love again. Yay! Potatoes! I mean, the years and years i spent believing that potatoes are fattening is a thing of the past. Baked, boiled or steamed (no oil of course) they are seriously healthy and not that high in calories after all. Especially sweet potatoes. So now, i get to eat one of my favorite things 3 or 4 times a week, guilty free! And the best part is, i am loosing weight! Yes, you can loose weight when eating potatoes, corn fritters, pumpkin pie and chocolate. Its all about not lying to yourself, preparing things properly, portion sizes, having more knowledge of what you are putting in your mouth and just having fun with it.


Now, i have not lost ’10 pounds in 10 days’ or dropped a dress size over night, but i am loosing that excess fat, little by little, and for the first time in years, the scale is actually coming down again, albeit one tiny ticker at a time. And i feel fantastic, energized and healthy again! Which is what it's all about, surely.

By the time i reach my goal weight, i am going to be so used to this new healthier eating lifestyle that i am positive i wont go and put it all on again any time soon. Chocolate covered strawberries to me!



Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Excuse My French


Bondage, by Phil Warren
Today i'm going to talk about my recent encounter with the hit novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, by EL James.*

i’m not being rude when i call it 'Fifty Shades of Excuse My French', i am merely quoting the author herself. In the book, EL James describes her character, Christian Grey, as ‘fifty shades of f####d up’. And i have to agree.

When i first heard twitterings of this new book, which was taking the world by storm one housewife at a time, i wasn’t in the slightest bit interested. Oh dear, i thought. Some trashy mommy-porn for the sad and deprived. i’m a bit of a self-confessed prude, not into that kind of thing. However, through a series of unfortunate eventual reviews, i decided that i needed to see what all the fuss was about myself.

i made the decision to read the book based on 2 things.

1) i AM said self-confessed prude and need to loosen up the corset strings a little (as Husband so eloquently puts it) and

2) i am embarking on a novel** literary career path and feel that i need to know my business. If there was one thing i learnt from my time in the actual business world, it was know your product. Know your competitors; Know your allies; Know your clients; Know your target market; Know your broader market; Know your playing field; Know your team players; Heck, know the grandmother of the guy who once sold things totally different to your product! Basically, the more you know about your piece of the pie-chart, the better you will do in the bakery business as a whole.

And so, as i have chosen to tuck into the pie that is modern fiction, it's my job to read as much of it as possible.


(And then of course there is that ‘do one thing you wouldn’t normally do every day’ thing i aspire to – see my blog post Cherry Blossoms Quickie Cures for Writers Block)

So i read it. Boy was that a tough week! i found the writing style annoying at best, tedious, and downright repetitive. i don’t like criticizing another author as i know how much hard work goes into these things, but lets just say it was not for me. The sex scenes were graphic, but not all that sexy. Gaurdian Books put it best when they said, “Alas Fifty Shades of Grey is as erotic as wet wool; As Polyfilla……..The writing is so intrusively awful that the mind rebels against it.”

i personally found the books' love-making descriptions to be unrealistic, and think women would find a more true-to-life account of the act of coitus in a smut magazine aimed at science-fiction Trekkie nerds. In fact, good old misogynistic porn would capture the moment better, what with all the instant-coffee cries of rapture emitted from these pages. As Anastasia Steele goes from virgin to professional sexoholic in less than 1000 words, i would have to say, no, not likely.

Christian Grey’s expectation of Ana Steele’s submission, in and out of the bedroom, is creepy. Take it from someone who has actually broken up with a boy when he said to me, and i quote, “Woman, Don’t defy me!” In real life, would this girl really stick around? i don’t think so. i certainly wouldn't! i would send him packing, as Miss Steele so often debates with herself, yet stupidly stays for more.


Then there is the question of sexual and/or blatant assault, otherwise known as a BDSM lifestyle. Mr. Grey manages to bestow on his new ‘victim’ two sound thrashings in the first book which left me staring at the scenes in horror. Really? Are we condoning this behavior? Is it OK that thousands of women have fallen in love with a character, fictional or not, who beats his girlfriend and expects that to be normal? That it's a turn-on? i admit i haven’t read book 2 or 3 (and don’t intend to) so things could very well be turned around, but the only way i think this should end is with him behind bars and under severe mental therapy.  There is a BIG difference between a little light banter with some pink fluffy cuffs, and a heavy handed assault.

 Or maybe its just me. Maybe Joseph Fritzl was just mis-understood. Maybe sadomasochism is a very real and ‘healthy’ form of relationship for many, many people. Then again, people eat blood sausage. People are morons.

Is this the real face of Christian Grey?

Having said that, i do actually see why this book became such an overnight success and continues to be so popular. EL James is no fool. She has the winning formula tucked right in there under the bridle straps and ‘vanilla sex’ silken scarves.

It’s as simple as this:

Step 1: Boy (Christian Grey) meets girl (Anastasia Steele). Their surnames match. There is chemistry. There is sex. Lots of it. All the time. Like three times in a row, then again first thing in the morning, then again right after that. And then again. And then…you get the picture.
Step 2: Boy unwittingly reveals deep hidden wounds and childhood scars. Girl falls in hopeless sympathetic empathy for damaged boy and is tormented by thoughts of his past. Girl accepts abuse at hand of boy, because, well I can only imagine she blames it on boys own experience of child-abuse. In related news, boy is billionaire who flies helicopters and is a Calvin Klein underwear model look-alike. Girl isn’t in it for the money. Girl is in love. Girl gets brand new Apple laptop, phone, car and first class air tickets bought for her while considering a dominant-subdominant relationship with damaged billionaire boy. (rolling my eyes HEAVILY here)
Step 3: Boy suddenly finds that his protective walls (which were so determinedly built round himself since his unspoken abuse up to age 4) are all too subtly being scaled by girl. Or boy doesn’t realize it at all, but its happening. Girl is getting through – the first and only to ever have done so to boy, it would seem.

And then it all ends in book one with a big bang, or should I say, beating, and Ana Steele has a wave of sanity and escapes with nothing more than a sore bottom and a broken heart.

BRILLIANT! Because now, all these housewives and pent-up women around the world are DYING for Ana to go back and fix poor old Christian with her ‘love’. Because who can resist a love story so deep and tragic? A little sexual healing? They will have their fill, oh yes they will. So says EL James. The women of the world will have their fill of Christian Grey being saved by Ana Steele. And more sex, i guess.

Urgh.

And now of course, even i want to know what happens! Damn Twilight-saturated media brainwashing. Damn sympathetic empathy. Damn soft, malleable lady-ness!


Things i Hated the Most:
- The phrase “Oh my…”
- The over explicit, over told, overtly unrealistic sex scenes
- The boring as hell look-at-me-look-at-me-I’m-so-hot-and-so-rich-and-can-fly-helicopters-and-stuff theme of it all.

But not to be one to only complain, and who tends to try find the silver lining in all things in life, i do have a list of Things i Liked:
- The ‘SHOUTY CAPITOLS’
- The correspondence between Ana and Christian, which was actually quite playful and entertaining
- The contract between Dominant and Subdominant, and the subsequent changes thereto throughout the book. Just cus it was so very formally ‘WTF?!?’ Very interesting.

So there you have it. My take on the Fifty Shades. If anyone is willing to read books 2 and 3 and will sit with me over coffee just to discuss, i will be ever so grateful to not have to wade through any more oh-my’s and endless sex scenes, but still find out how it all turns out. Thank you!

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

*This is not a book review. This is just my personal opinion about a book i have just read. My opinion is just one, please don’t feel offended if you don’t agree and i promise i wont be offended if you loved the book.
**(haha – sorry, a little dry book-worm humor there…)


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

For Sylvia

Gotta love the internet. While sifting through droves of sugary-sweet tweets and bitterly dry blog posts, i found this quote by Sylvia Plath today.


She was an amazing writer, someone who really could dive deep into the mirkiest of her creative waters, and i truly respect her for that. My Grandmother told me once that to be all the people I wanted to be growing up, i would only ever need be a writer. i could only have become a writer. i think i understand what Sylvia was saying when she wrote this in her diary:


"I love people. Every body. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love’s not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be every one, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I’ll ever have. And you can not regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time…"


It's really hard to believe, reading this, that she would eventually kill herself. 


Having a quiet moment for her today.





Love and cherished
Cherry Blossom

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Cherry Blossom's Quickie Cures for Writers Block


NOW HEAR THIS. i was inspired by all the blogs i have read about this dark and despairing thing...here are my Quickie Cures too.

1. EXPLORE. i have heard it said: To be a well rounded person you should do at least one thing you wouldn’t normally do every day. i would like to expand on that and say: To be a well rounded writer person, you should do at least one thing you wouldn’t normally do every day, read at least 5 non-news articles about anything (i use ‘StumbleUpon’ – fabulous app for reading random stuff!) every day, and talk to at least one person (other than those you live with…e.g. Husband) about something for more than 5 minutes every day. Oh, but still read the news and still talk to Husband. Of course. 

Being a writer means spending a lot of time alone and sometimes that can isolate you. You become a frozen little popsicle of social awkwardness and as cute and pretty as you are, you have the ability to cause brain-freeze all by yourself. So branch out a little. Walk the dog and try to strike up a conversation in the park with a fellow dog walker. Speak to the girl you see every other day at gym who uses the same make of drinking bottle you do, i don’t know, be creative! Chat to the lady at the till when you are buying your milk. Smile at strangers and when that beggar asks for some money, just do it. R2 wont kill you. But then ASK HIM HOW HE IS TODAY? And be genuinely willing to listen to his answer. Be a rugby player...Stop, Pause, Engage! Basically, be an open human being, open to communication and connections with other human beings, and engage with them. This is one place where i do have to give kudo’s to smokers…they have this down to an art!



2. DRINK TEA. Coffee gets the creative juices going, but tea gets the happy juices flowing. It’s soothing and ‘nice’, and whereas my grandmother told me NEVER to use the word 'nice', i like it. Tea is nice. i feel nice when i drink tea (Sorry Granny, no disrespect. Love you!)

3. BE READING. Weather you are the kind who likes to read one book at a time or many all in one go, it’s important to be reading, and be reading A LOT. You should be reading your favorite genre for inspiration, the genre you are writing in for expertise, and a genre you don’t normally read (see point 1. again) for broadening your writing horizons. Don’t be watching series (all the time). Don’t be hating. BE READING, yo!



4. (Duh) WRITE. If you don’t write, you will never write. You need to write anything and everything all the time. i’m not talking about single-sentence punch outs on social media platforms – that is NOT writing. You need to write about stuff. Write for yourself. Write for others. Write for the neighbors dog that keeps you up at night with its yapping and you are giving it a final written warning. ("Dear Dog. You have crossed your Last Life Line...") Write a blog. Write to your grandmother. Write an Ode to the Tea-cozy. ("Dear Tea Cozy. Shall i compare thee to a fluffy winters sock?") Write a memory trying to capture every colour, every sound. If you are a good girl, write in your diary. If you are a bad girl, write to Penthouse. Write some crazy idea’s. Write a silly poem. Write out your favorite recipe. Write as if you are a 5 year old. Write as if you are a 50 year old. Write about others writing. Heck, if it’s a really bad day and you are completely enveloped in a self-destructive dooms-day cloud and the world is just pissing you off, write about how much you hate everybody! Write the bitchiest thing you can…but then delete it quickly (these things have a way of worming themselves out when you DO NOT want them to!) Or write yourself happy again. i found this gorgeous little thing online called WrittenKitten. Basically, you write 100 words, and a pic of a cute fluffy kitty pops up. For another 100 words, you get another pic. i know i know, its random and useless and who the hell cares anyway? But it’s cute and works as an exercise. What ever you choose, which ever way you want to go – just write. Write damnit, WRITE!!! 

Oh, and when all else fails, play piano.

That is all.

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Ding Dong, the WHAT is dead?!


(WARNING: This is not a happy blog post. i’m pissed off. Very pissed off. Woke up on a cold rainy day and there's no hot water in the geezer pissed off! Grrrrr)

This morning, over my usual giant pink cup of coffee, i made the mistake of clicking on a blog post re-tweated on my flipboard before rubbing the make-up-residue sleep out of my eyes. My punishment was to read yet another rant by some hater that ‘Chick Lit’ is dead. This statement baffles me. i do not understand people who, when they don’t like something, call it dead. Rock is dead; Tell that to Korn, or Steven Tyler who just never says die or Keith Richards who i’m pretty sure never will die. Cassette tapes are dead; Tell that to Nigeria. 
Advertising is dead; Really? Tell that to my Apple MacBook, iPad, iPod and iPhone – all purchased with the sub-conscious burning desire to be as cool and confident and creative as the subliminal messages suggested to me, hell, deeply ingrained into me over all those years of watching Sex and the City. Elvis is dead; (ok, gotta agree with that one…) God is dead; TELL THAT TO MY MOTHER! The Printed Word is dead; Oh just shut the fluff up and go back to your wii or what ever it is you losers do with your time now.

Here’s a lesson in good manners and general socially acceptable and amiable behavior by Cherry Blossom: When you don’t like something, say “This is not to my taste”, not “Chick lit is dead”. You may not enjoy reading it, but you are one little (probably horribly morbid, boring, self obsessed and oh-so-drab) person. There are 7 billion people on this planet, and amongst them, yes, i think its safe to say that there are still chick lit fans who find chick lit to be very much alive. HUGE numbers of chick lit fans in fact. Gaggles and flocks and clusters of droves of schools of chick lit fans. Myself being one of them.


But let me not get ahead of myself here. i do understand where some of the hating is coming from as i too have had the misfortune to read a few of those chick lit books that would put anyone off. Truly awful instances of (and total embarrassments to) my favorite genre. But lets remember that there are many examples in this world of good versions and bad versions of EVERYTHING. You can get a great cup of coffee (VIDA, Nespresso), and you can get something dark and liquidy-like with floating black lumps and a slight scum? round the rim of the mug. You can get Mom’s home roasted chicken with thick steaming gravy and crispy golden potatoes, and you can get a soggy chicken burger with putrid dripping chips at a non-disclosed establishment. There are gorgeous red-heads and, well, the rest of us. You get lovely genuine blondes and real bitches, fabulous brunettes and color-blind, anti-human-hygiene specimens , princes and frogs. And you get good books, and bad books in ALL genre's.


When i say ‘Chick Lit’ and talk about aspiring to write in the genre, i am NOT talking about soppy romance novels. i'm referring to books such as Anne of Green Gables, The Devil Wears Prada, Emma, Twenties Girl, Far From The Madding Crowd and Confessions of a Shopaholic. My definition may not fit in with the usual norm, but when i say Chick Lit, i mean literature that takes a real woman, real life, interesting characters, the ridiculousness of every day that we are on this planet and smooshes it all into a light hearted account that makes you want to laugh, cry, rave about and sometimes throw things. But mostly laugh. 

It’s the book that leaves a character in your heart because you really feel where they were coming from by the end of it, even if you are nothing like them at all, and they actually don’t exist. (Have you ever cried at the end of a book because you realize you are going to miss the fictional character in it? i have.) It’s the book that makes you root for the little people. The one you find yourself snorting out loud to, mortifying yourself, while sitting in public places waiting for modes of transportation. It’s the one that leaves you with a sense of happiness that something in this life turned out well, and general warm fuzzies thanks to all the laughing. And it is the Charles Dickens of genius constructed characterizations – where the situation IS just that darn funny because you KNOW people EXACTLY like that, and secretly laugh at them behind their backs all the time.

 Or maybe its just me.

 So if you don’t like chick lit and one day post on your haters blog about my new book, to you i say: You are simply not my target market. (oh, and do the world a favor, grow up, stop taking yourself so seriously, and at least TRY to get a sense of humor.)

But i guess no one is perfect. i’m a writer after all, and sometimes come hell or high water i simply can’t construct a sentence (or blog post) to say what i am trying to say. Heck, i can’t even spell! (Thank the lucky-Buddha for spellcheck and literary editors!)

But at least i have good manners.


Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom