Un-Re-Inventing Myself

I’ve been thinking a lot about self re-invention lately. Madonna’s famous for it. Maybe you’ve tried it. And for me? It’s been a life-long burden. I always wanted to re-invent myself, become a better version of me. Every new school year was a chance to change how I dressed, how I acted, how everyone would see me. My motto was essentially “Maybe I’ll be this type of person now!” Going to college was a big chance for re-invention, which pretty much failed because I made no friends and college sucked. Moving to LA was my biggest chance for reinvention, which went terribly because my first year in LA sucked really hard and I just got super depressed and had a terrible eating disorder. Because here’s the thing I realized – I CAN’T BE A DIFFERENT PERSON. I try to be a different person and eventually that fails because of course it does. And then I feel like a failure. And I wallow in that shit for a while and then I try again.

I’m done. I am done reinventing myself. I don’t want to be a different type of person. I’m not going to be the type of person who wears size 0 pants or golfs or wears heels every day. I don’t wear all black or look like Sofia Vergara. I don’t wake up early, I’m not a minimalist, I’m not serious. I don’t want to be cooler or sexier or cuter than I really am. I want to be me. There are so many pictures of me where I don’t really see myself. Ones where I’m sulking and wearing a black hoodie, or I dyed my hair blonde, or I’m too skinny, or I’m covered in too much makeup. Or where I can tell that I was JUST FUCKING FAKING IT.

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This is me at my college graduation. I just don’t see ME here. I’m too skinny. I wasn’t happy.

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This is me dressing up for New Years Eve, going to a BIG HOLLYWOOD PARTY! I felt really fat. None of this is me. This sucks.

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I think I look pretty in this picture, but it doesn’t look like me.

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This doesn’t look like me, either. I look like I’m trying to be Salma Hayek. I’m not Salma Hayek.

Here are some pictures I love because I just see ME in them:

 

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And here’s me from today:

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I don’t necessarily know who I am yet. But I don’t want to try and figure out who I WANT to be, I want to find the things that were good about me all along. Playing pretend is fun, but you have to have a self to come home to.

18 Reasons 2013 Was Pretty Great

In order to combat that feeling of “oh shit, what did I do this year? IS MY LIFE PASSING ME BY? I’M OLD” I decided to compile this list of cool shit that happened or that I did in 2013. Let me make something clear – this is not me bragging. I made a pitifully small amount of money, made practically no headway in my career, and I didn’t lose any weight or get a boyfriend. But I scored some victories and I pushed outside of my comfort zone so I’m going to throw my 2013 a tiny internet party.

1) I went to China for two weeks.

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2) I started my own standup show, Minotaur.

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3) Did some modeling for the first time in years.

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4) Got back into making music!

Here’s an EDM song I made with some other guys – my vocals come in at 1:54

And I did a crazy Halloween rap as the Wicked Witch of the West.


5) Started taking free online classes with Coursera. By now I’ve studied nuclear science, dinosaurs, archaeology, JFK, international criminal justice, climate science, and much more! It was nice to be reminded that I actually do have a brain. I do, I swear.

6) I went camping in Yosemite (and Spring Mill State Park!) with my mom.

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7) I went to Six Flags, Disneyland, AND Disney World.

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8) I swam in the Atlantic. And posted a photo of myself without makeup on on the internet.

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9) I had an intense spiritual experience. All I can really say is it involved a hallucinogen that I support 100% but don’t really think I should talk about on the internet. If you email me I’ll tell you about it if you want to know.

10) All together I spent about a month and a half with my 4-year-old brother and 2-year-old sister.

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11) I put up a 30-minute show at UCB that I wrote and starred in. (Also you might notice I’m paired with Noel Wells, who is now on SNL. Yeah that’s kinda crazy)

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12) Started taking dance classes again, and doing pole dance for the first time ever. It’s challenging, fun, and sexy. I fucking love it.

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13) I saw a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral. I was really far away but still, when Maven gets to Mars I will know I was there at the beginning.

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14) Did some fun things with my appearance – bought some huge earrings, started getting acrylic nails, got more ear piercings, cut thick bangs, grew out bangs, put some black lowlights(?) in my hair after several years of keeping everything pretty much the same.

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15) Learned to knit!

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16) Met my idol, Megatherium (10,000 year old, 4,000 pound ground sloth that lived in North America) and saw the exhibit on the Columbian Exposition at the Field Museum in Chicago.

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17) Volunteered – fostered a cat and started writing letters to prisoners through WriteaPrisoner.org. This picture makes it look like the cat actually wrote the letters.

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18) Got really shitfaced drunk for the first time. Threw up like a motherfucker. Went to goth dance club. Went on dates with people from the internet. Made out with somewhat gross people in public. Kissed a girl. Listened to hours of dubstep, 365 days a year. Got my weed card. Threw up from too much use of said weed card. Basically just some real risk-taking behavior.

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The real reason I wrote this post is I saw this one I wrote last year – https://funwithvintage.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/12-things-i-did-in-2012-to-make-my-life-better/ and I realized that I have come SO FAR. Last year I was working on basic happiness, confidence, and social skills and this year I finally worked on having fun, being spontaneous and adventurous, and telling my fears to fuck right off. So I may not have gotten on a harold team (it’s an improv thing) or gotten on a TV show or fallen in love or accumulated any savings or gotten in fantastic shape…. or gone to space or climbed Machu Picchu or seen a ghost or flown a helicopter or met a whale… but I did have some highlights. 24 was kind to me, and it was way better than 21 or 22 or 23. I’m turning 25 tomorrow (the 30th) and it’s weird but I’m ready.

How can I be a confident feminist who also loves beauty and fashion?

I am a feminist. I fundamentally like myself. I love makeup. I love my hair. What gives?

I used to feel some sort of conflict between loving traditionally feminine things and feeling a desire to adorn and enjoy my appearance with being a feminist (which everyone should be) and loving myself for who I am. So how can I be a confident feminist who also loves beauty and fashion?

1) Feminism is about choice. I should be able to wear all the makeup I want, and I should never have to wear makeup if I don’t want to. I shouldn’t be fired because not wearing makeup is “unprofessional” and I shouldn’t be denigrated for loving red lipstick and outrageous eyelashes. Men should be able to wear makeup. Sometimes I hear people point to cultural norms such as a bias against men wearing makeup or skirts as proof that there’s sexism on both sides and feminism is outdated, but this only proves that anti-woman sentiment is ingrained in our culture and feminism is as needed as ever. Men aren’t supposed to wear skirts or makeup or be stay-at-home parents because these are seen as traditionally female activities, and traditionally male activities and attributes and more valued in our culture than traditionally female activities and characteristics.

2) Human beings love beauty. Show me someone who doesn’t love a beautiful sunset, a great song, or a lovely scent and I’ll show you someone in the throes of a deep depression (which I have been in the past, no judgies here) or who is dead. People love beauty. We see it in other people, in landscapes, in animals, in art, in nebulas and stars and galaxies, in cells under a microscope. Beauty is everywhere and we fucking love it. It’s an important and enjoyable part of the human experience. So why wouldn’t we want to touch and see and smell beautiful things on ourselves? I love the feel of my curly hair, the look of my red lipstick, touching my glossy nails, smelling my coconut perfume.

3) I do what I like and I don’t listen to anyone. I don’t hate anything about my appearance. Nothing. I’m 5’6″ and a size 10, really pale, and I’ll never get a Brazilian. I don’t like my body because it’s perfect according to cultural beauty standards, I like my body because it’s a human body. It’s fascinatingly complex, helps me experience the world, and constantly surprises me. I did nothing to deserve being born, I fucking lucked into it. So I’m not into beauty and fashion because I want to disguise features that I hate or conform to a cultural beauty standard. Wear shoes your boyfriend doesn’t like, get a tattoo your mom hates, play football. Whatever.

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When I was three I asked my mom to take my picture because I felt pretty that day.

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Love ya.

The Esoteric Joys of Wearing Vintage

I hadn’t dressed up in a couple days – I’d been working at home and going to the gym and not finding the requisite motivation to put on a girdle and stockings and really feel suited up. Then at the gym today, walking on the treadmill and reading, I suddenly realized one of the reasons why I love vintage.

I’ve been reading the book Team of Rivals, about President Lincoln, and feeling so invested in him, his Cabinet members, and the fate of the Union, and that world feels as real and present to me as my own right now. I realized that most of us are a product of our time and place and we really belong in it. Some of us feel we were born in the wrong place or time period and seek to change it through physical location or daily lifestyle. So many people in this community feel they really should have lived in the 40s or 50s because they identify with that era in a way they just don’t with current times (though many others love certain things about another era but feel solidly a modern woman). Similarly, I know several people who have moved to a foreign country because when they first went there they felt at home for the first time in their lives.

I’m not one of those people. I’m going to risk sounding arrogant here in hopes that I can accurately explain what I’ve been feeling. Certainly I love being American, but I was born in Germany and lived in China and I feel a strong identification with all those places, and many more. I’ve never found one country that feels more home to me than others. There is much I love about our modern age – the progression of equal rights chief among my reasons – but I don’t feel like I necessarily belong to or am bound by it. If I’m not embracing the past, I don’t feel like my full self. If I’m not living an international life full of travel and foreign languages, I feel limited.

Which brings me to vintage. Wearing vintage is an outlet for that desire to identify with history. Every time I get dressed I can feel like I’m somewhere else, in a different time and place. I love history but not only as a passive observer – I want to feel like an active participant. I want to experience it. Suddenly my lack of motivation had dissipated and I couldn’t wait to get home and transform into the gorgeous vintage version of myself.

All I had to do last night was an improv show and then come home and transcribe, but I put on my pink Jackie O dress and jacket, a leopard-print vintage scarf in my hair, and a nice dose of red lipstick and I felt gorgeous.

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12 Things I Did in 2012 to Make My Life Better

I was inspired to write this post from the lovely Jessica at Chronically Vintage. I hope she doesn’t mind me stealing the title of her post, but I really loved the idea.

I tend to view myself as a pretty grateful person, so I don’t spend a lot of time on gratitude lists. If anything, I usually feel guilty about being undeserving of the wonderful things in my life. But I like the idea of finding twelve things that I did to make my life better this year. Sometimes I feel like my life is passing me by and I worry that I’m not using it the right way. That I’m not making enough of what I’ve been given. But I did make some big steps this year, and celebrating them will be an acknowledgment that I can make my life better and that I am taking charge of my life and trying to take advantage of and enjoy the opportunities I’ve been given. Some of these will be vintage-related, and some not.

1) I went to therapy. This is a big one, and precipitated most of the good change in my year.

2) I acknowledged and accepted my issues. This really tied in with therapy, but it’s also what helped to get me into therapy in the first place. I acknowledged that I have struggled with an eating disorder for a long time, and have dealt with depression without getting help. I thought I could take care of everything on my own, and that actually caused my loved ones more distress than if I had just sought help earlier.

3) I went on a big, life-affirming trip. In the entertainment industry there are a lot of messages saying that you can’t ever be out of town. If you take time off, you’re missing opportunities and there are thousands of people working harder than you. But even though I love my chosen career, I am not my career and I need more out of life. I left my job and my life for a month (putting my comedy career on pause and not knowing if I’d have a job to come back to).

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And I got this.

4) I moved into a new apartment with two roommates. I really loved living alone but it was too expensive and exacerbated my natural tendency to isolate myself. My roommates are really wonderful people and they make my life better.

5) I really put an effort into making good friends. Making friends does not come easily or naturally to me, and there have been many times in my life where I had only a few. But this year I made a genuine effort to reach out to people and I think I came out of the year with some really wonderful friendships and people I really value.

6) I was upfront with people about my problems and insecurities. After years of not telling anyone I had an eating disorder, I told everyone. I was warned not to tell people that I’m on medication for Bipolar II, and I’m telling everyone anyway. When I was struggling in a social interaction, I said so. And everyone was super fucking nice about it. I hope I put some other people at ease, too.

7) I started trying to find some joy in my appearance, which led me to wearing vintage full-time. For years I dressed mostly in a couple pairs of terrible jeans and t-shirts from the Target boy’s department and thought that everyone probably thought of me as the chubby friend and it was time for me to accept it. My therapist encouraged me to try dressing up and wearing clothes that made me feel pretty – not only because it’s wonderful to feel pretty, but you generally take better care of yourself in general if you’re caring for your appearance. I realized that vintage clothes are what I love and feel excited about and now I really enjoy taking care of myself and getting ready because every day is an excuse to wear one of my gorgeous vintage dresses, pin curl my hair, and put on some red lipstick.

8) I started this blog! I needed a hobby that wasn’t work-related, and I’m really enjoying it.

9) I bought a swimsuit and a gym membership. I’ve always exercised, but often out of obligation and very seldom out of enjoyment. I’m now trying to take pressure off of myself and just enjoy using my body. I actually wrote a snarky post about my “exercise goals” on my Tumblr that I really liked.

10) I fostered four cats. Unfortunately I won’t be able to do it again in my new apartment, but I loved being able to give them some love and attention and I got a lot back from them. I cried when I gave them up to people who could adopt them, but that’s part of it, too.

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11) I saw Titanic 3D in the theaters. 😀

12) I created my own show, found writers and a director, and we shot our pilot in December. It’s the best accomplishment of my life, and even if nothing comes of it, it will remain a point of pride for me forever.

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Oops and I just thought of a bonus one – I started doing standup this year!

This post feels a bit self-indulgent (but why can’t I just feel good about myself and not try and undercut that?), but it’s also nice to realize that I’m not totally wasting my life. I think.

Also, it’s my birthday tomorrow! I’m turning 24 and hopefully 24 will be even better than 23. And when it isn’t, I’ll go to therapy and talk about it.

You’re So Vintage and You Don’t Even Know It, Baby

I think was vintage before I knew I was vintage. I’ve only started really trying to dress in vintage clothes daily in the last couple months, but it was interesting to look back at some of my old pictures and realize that I’ve always had this love of vintage clothes and style even if I didn’t quite realize it.

I mean check out that hat. Seriously.

That’s my high school boyfriend with a newsie who looks suspiciously like me.

There we are again – I dressed up as Ava Gardner for Halloween my senior year of high school.

I wanted to channel Old Hollywood glamor for my senior prom – this was the first time I wore red lipstick! Unfortunately it didn’t start a personal trend, as I was mostly a chapstick girl until a couple months ago.

I had a “healthy living” blog when I first moved out to LA and I would post outfit photos on Fridays. I realized recently that my favorites were always vintage-inspired:

Big vintage brooch, lipstick, high-waisted skirt! This was at the Edison downtown – this was a couple years ago but if I remember correctly it’s 1920’s themed.

And I took myself to a day at LACMA – vintage necklace, high-waisted skirt again – I remember feeling like I had really, really dressed up. I was wearing two-inch heels for Christ’s sake!

So I guess it’s not a surprise that I “realized” I love vintage clothes. I’ve always been really into history – my bookshelves are full of books about World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam (my dad was in the military so that’s probably why I have a fascination with military history). And as a kid I was always dressing up – I couldn’t find a picture, but I dressed up as Jackie O for a class presentation in 5th grade (we did not have to dress up. That was my idea) and I LOVED it – gloves, white pillbox hat, blue dress. Titanic is my favorite movie, for which I have been teased on many an occasion but I STAND FIRM. I’ve seen every Marilyn Monroe movie – I had a stepmom from ages 9-16 who was very into Marilyn and we watched them all together. I liked Bus Stop the best because I thought she was so funny and cute in it. I’ll watch any period movie though, and it’s a reason I became an actor. It’s too frustrating for me that we only get to be one person and live in one time. I want more.

It’s funny that it never really occurred to me that you could just wear vintage clothes every day if you want until I stumbled across it a couple months ago. I was seriously shocked to find out that there are tons of vintage people out there, and a lot of them have blogs. It’s been such a fun discovery for me that there are other people who love vintage style and they wear it and decorate their homes in it and attend vintage events – now I just want to meet them in real life!

I Need More Clothes

You guys jealous of my closet?

Okay, it’s a little sparse. I counted my clothes today:

Sweaters/cardigans/thin sweater-like things (I have several of these, apparently)/anything you can wear as a jacket that’s not a coat : 13

Pants: 3 (good job, Erika!) (this includes a pair of jeggings. Gross)

Short-sleeve shirts: 16

Long-sleeve shirts/button-downs: 17

Dresses: 7 (4 vintage, 3 non)

Skirts: 1

Suits: 1

Try not to seethe with jealousy! Especially when I tell you that I’ve owned a lot of those shirts since high school, and many of them are Star Wars or Transformers themed! And with two exceptions all my long-sleeve shirts are Merona (Target brand) undershirts. Not that I want to shit on Star Wars, Transformers, or Target. They’ve all steered me well. But I hate all my pants. Fuck my pants.

So I really need to freshen up my wardrobe since my recent realization that I’m not in high school anymore and I don’t have to dress like a boy. It’s okay if I stand out or look like I am trying to look nice. It’s okay to want to look nice. I also have to accept the body I have. A big reason I have so few clothes that fit me is for years and years I have only bought clothes when I was skinny, then felt horribly guilty when I gained weight not only about gaining weight, but also about wasting money on buying clothes I couldn’t fit into anymore. So I’d wait it out and try and lose weight. And sometimes it worked, but never for long. But all that said, I’m going to get this body back, right?

Ehh… I still have some clothes from when I was that size that I can’t bear to get rid of. But that’s not me right now.

That’s me!

That’s me.

That’s me.

Instead of feeling like my body is not my body, I need to accept that it’s always my body. Skinny me was me, and this is me now. And me now needs clothes. And if my weight changes later, I will sell these clothes and buy new ones, because clothes are supposed to fit your body and not the other way around. And I’ve learned that I love vintage clothes, they make me feel good, so I want to wear vintage as much as I can.

Right now I’m in dire need of:

  • Pants. Yeah, the goddamn pants thing.
  • Shoes. I only own heels and tennis shoes but I walk a lot and since I’ve started dressing nicer I need a nice-looking shoe that I can walk long distances in. I’d love a flat, cute Mary Jane or T-strap but I cannot for the life of me find one.
  • Underwear. I hate all my underwear because they’re all low-rise bullshit that look terrible with a higher waistline on your clothes. And thongs? In this decade? No, thank you.

And then things I’d like to have but are not an emergency:

  • A 40s dress. I love the 40s but 50s and 60s clothes are much easier to find and cheaper, so I don’t own anything 40s. Two of my dresses are 50s, one is 60s, and one is 70s. I mean if we’re getting wishlisty, more than one forties dress? A thirties dress? Reach for the stars, right?
  • Gloves. Elbow-length gloves. Orange or yellow elbow-length gloves.
  • More shoes? I probably need black and brown. Maybe navy.
  • I love the turtleneck/maxi skirt look of the 70s. So I want those.
  • A circle skirt would be nice. More skirts in general, really.
  • Some nice blouses.
  • Clothes good for cold weather – I can be a real pansy in the cold.

Eventually I’d like to be able to phase out the clothes I own that I don’t like so well and really have a wardrobe of vintage clothes I love that I can wear every day and feel pretty and confident every day. I mean we’re shooting for the moon, right?

My First Dress

Since I was 15 I have generally refused to go shopping because I didn’t like how I looked and I assumed it would eventually change. I’d lose some weight, buy some clothes, gain some weight, not have anything to wear and refuse to buy anything new until my mom forced me to because I only wore sweatpants, etc. A couple months ago I decided to rehaul my wardrobe because I’m 23 years old and I’m not ready to accept defeat and just be ugly yet. Here’s the first dress I bought!

http://www.etsy.com/listing/92960118/vintage-dead-stock-mustard-dress-gold?ref=usr_faveitems

It’s a dead stock mustard-colored dress with a bit of a drop waist and gold-colored buttons on one shoulder. It has a 50’s-60’s union tag, a metal zipper, a hand-sewn hem, and it’s made with Orlon acrylic so I think it’s from right around 1960. Though I could be wrong, as I often am. I’ve worn the dress a bunch of times since I bought it and I love it – I always feel pretty and I get a lot of nice compliments. Only one person has asked if I was wearing a costume, and when I said no he felt terrible. Which is great. So much power!

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With a sweater, a big gold rope necklace, and some crazy (80’s?) clip-on earrings I inherited from my grandmother.

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Sorry i don’t take good pictures of myself. actually i’m not sorry. let’s all chill out, guys. stop flipping out about my bad photos! cut it out!

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More clip-on earrings. These ones are pretty rad. Too bad my grandma’s dead so I can’t ask her where/when she got them.

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Yeah i liked how I did my hair.

So there you go. Buy a new dress, it’ll change your life.