Staying Shiny

My life as a Uber-geek in a Bridal world

50 Books in 2012: Book 3

Title: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Author:  Jonathan Safran Foer
Genre:  Fiction

Synopsis:  In the wake of his father's death on "the worst day" in the World Trade Center disaster on 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar Schell struggles to deal with his loss while trying to discover the origins of a key he finds in a vase in his father's closet.  His journey takes him all over New York city while simultaneously exploring his Grandparents brief love affair before the birth of Oskar's father.

Review:  Ok so I'll admit, I cheated a little with this one.  I've read it before.  I was gathering book ideas from the girls at work and told them of my 50 in '12 plan and they all wanted to be a part of it.  The next thing I knew we had formed a book club.  I like the format of it.  We pick a book and everyone reads it at their own pace with and end date in mind.  This way we aren't held to each others reading pace and can finish or read ahead with no worries.  When everyone is finished, we plan to get together and watch the movie and discuss the book.  I had suggested this book to a few girls before and it was decided that this would be our first one.  I promise I re-read it.

I love this book.  It is written in a very interesting way.  I really enjoyed getting right inside the head of Oskar and even though it can be a bit confusing and jumbled at points, I found that made it better.  This is not a story in the truest sense of the word.  This book is a journey.  It is an examination of the psyche of a child dealing with truly heartbreaking issues and finding a sense of peace in it all.  I liked the interjection of the Grandparents story throughout the book as well.  I even took the time to translate a bit of the "numbers" chapter.

I know that this book was panned by a lot of critics on it's release as "cashing in on the 9/11 tragedy" and "not well written" but I disagree.  I found it a powerful story that sticks with you.  Characters in it can easily be related to.  Everyone has met someone like one of the many "Blacks" at one point.  It's interesting to see how each person responds to Oskar's quest.

If you haven't taken the time to read this, please do.  I have also seen the movie and I think they have done a very good adaptation of a difficult to translate novel.  For me, the flip book images on the last few pages will always inspire and haunt.

I give this book 4.5 heartbreaks out of 5 and raise it with Hope.

Project Lulu Update

I thought I'd do a quick post updating my progress on my cosplay for this years Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo.  I decided to go with Lulu from Final Fantasy X this year as she is a character I love and I thought it would be a great challenge.  I am making this costume mostly from scratch and have been working on it bit by bit since about December.  It's taken quite some time to do the planning stages as well as collecting all the materials I need, particularly the massive amount of belts needed.  I have also managed to get almost everything I need locally, which is awesome because I love supporting local businesses.  The only things I have had to get online are my wig and contacts (currently on order).  Here's the progress with just 36 days to go!

Materials I used to construct the purple necklace.  I couldn't find the proper disk beads so I made them from Apoxy dots (for scrapbooking) glued together and then painted with a metallic pearl craft paint.

Completed Necklaces.  The pearls are restrung from a necklace bought at a Thrift Store and each necklace has a magnetic clasp to keep them all properly aligned with each other and prevent twisting and spinning on the body.

To save time and major headaches I purchase a corset that I could convert to work for the costume.  You wouldn't believe how difficult it was to find one!  I wanted one with a shorter body so I wouldn't be uncomfortable as I was last year when sitting in panels.  I finally found one and even though it's not perfect, I kind of like the grey pinstripe in it.  I like how it ties in with the grey of the dress.  I added the grey trim with a hand stitch.

Finished corset and fur wrap.  I reclaimed the fur from the lining of a vest purchased at a Thrift Store.

Rough Draping...just so I could see where this is all heading.

Constructing the "lace" trim.  I debated on how to tackle the edging on the dress for quite some time.  Real lace didn't give the look of the picture I'm working off of as it is uniform and generally not the right colors I need.  I decided to make my own using a stencil to paint the desired effect on a white muslin and them outline it for more detail.

Finished sleeves and partially finished overskirt.  I just have the lace trim for the train left on this piece and then to tackle the belt skirt.  Good news is I still have enough fabric left from the skirt to use as a base for the belts so I shouldn't have any other major purchases in order to complete this one!

What's left on the to do list?

  • paint and attach lace trim to train
  • cut out belt skirt base and attach belts with glue and zip ties for added strength
  • add 2 tiers of boning to the belt skirt for added stability, ease of movement and weight distribution
  • add velcro to edges of overskirt to attach to belt skirt
  • add belts to sleeves
  • construct the 4 hairsticks and add to the wig (once it arrives)
  • find some purple lipstick
Wish me luck!

Seeing Inner Beauty

In my job I see a lot of things.  Some make you smile, some make you laugh, same make you cry and some break your heart.  I think the ones that get to me the most are the women who don't see their own beauty, inside and out.  Today was a day that broke my heart but ended in a small triumph.

Near the end of the day a mom and her two daughters walked in to my store to look for grad dresses.  hey noticed the sign on the door on their way in that said "appointments recommended" and were a little worried but I reassured them that we would be able to fit them in in about 10 minutes and brought them to the grad section to start browsing.  I went back to my appointment which was just wrapping up and finished everything with them.  Just as I finished I noticed that the family was back near the front of the store preparing to leave.  I asked the girl if she saw any dresses that she liked and she was very shy with me.  She barely made eye contact and gave very short answers to all my questions.  With a little encouragement from her mom we convinced her to come back in and at least try on a few gowns to see what she was liking.  I went back in to the grad section with them to help her pick out some gowns.  She seemed like she really didn't want to be there and really wasn't giving me much help with what she wanted in a gown.  Her mom picked one to get us started and I took her back to the dressing room.

In case you are new to this blog or are unaware of what I do for a living, let me fill you in.  I manage a full-service Bridal Salon.  If you've ever seen the TLC show "Say Yes to the Dress" you have a very good idea of what I do.  I help you pick gowns, and I dress you in them.  There are many reasons our store does this, but I digress.  I took this young woman back to the dressing area and explained to her that I would be helping her into the gowns.  She got a very fearful look in her eyes and nearly bolted for the door.  Her sister stopped her and told her it would be ok and how she wished that someone had helped her into the dresses when she went shopping for her grad dress.  I have dealt with shy girls before, but her reaction was quite extreme.  We provide slips for our customers to wear on their lower body so they don't feel overly exposed when we come in the room with them in their undergarments.  I suggested that she pull the slip up over her chest if it made her more comfortable.  The first time I went into the dressing room with her and saw her without her street clothes on, my heart broke.  She was a very beautiful girl who obviously didn't see that in herself.  She stood with her shoulders slumped forward, her hair pulled in front of her chest and her hands clamped tightly across her stomach.  Her arms were covered from her shoulders to wrists in scars.  Hundreds of small angry white lines.  I realized that this poor thing had inflicted each of these scars on herself at one time.  She had even carved a small heart into her chest which now shone white with the gleam of scar tissue.  I waned to scoop her up and tell her everything gets better and not to give up.  My heart melted and it became m mission to help this girl find a dress that would make her see some of her own beauty when she looked in the mirror.  It took some time and coaxing to get her to tell me what she liked but eventually we began to narrow things down.  Her mom and sister were so supportive of her.  Eventually, I pulled a dress off of one of the mannequins in the window and put her in it.  For the first time that day, I saw a smile on her face.  She began to shine and see herself in a new light.  Her shoulders held a little higher and her hair pulled back over her shoulders.  She didn't even try to cover herself with her hands but planted them firmly on her hips for a picture.  Her mom bought her the dress and they left the store happy.

I'd like to think that I made a small difference in her life, even if just for a short while.  I don't do these things because I want someone to remember me or think I'm amazing.  I don't even want to take any credit for finding the perfect dress for someone.  I do take a great deal of personal satisfaction in those little moments when I can make a girl see something special when she looks in the mirror.  If you have never taken the time to see the inner beauty in a random stranger, try it!  Once you see it, try to make them see what you see.  Sometimes all it takes is a little smile.