Monday, December 29, 2008


So I was selected pretty much at random by my ex-fashion illustration professor to participate in competition to design for the family of the President Elect. The invite came at the worst time possible- right at the the beginning of finals week (the submission deadline being right at the end of finals week), and just after a prettty bad car accident (don't worry, I wasn't hurt, but my car was moderately injured). However, Professor Ellinwood told me the 6 designs- inauguration day outfits as well as ball gowns for First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Malia and Sasha, would not only be nationally printed in USA Today, they will be judged by Tim Gunn of Project Runway and Tim Gunn's Guide to Style fame.

Today I was notified that USA Today is planning on posting the story and the designs on USA Today's web site on December 31, and readers will be allowed to vote for their favorite designs, and that the newspaper article (also to be released on the 31) will be a full-color page. Seven other Marymount students took the time out of their finals week to create their best ideas for these dresses. There is no indication that Michelle Obama is inclined to choose from our designs, but at the very least this is an awesome resume builder, and a fun, creative way to end the fall semester, and TIM GUNN TOCUHED MY STUFF! So by all means, America, go vote!
Of course, the picture posted is not my illustration, I don't even have a copy of my presedential designs right now! They are somewhere between the desks of USA Today, Tim Gunn, and Professor Ellinwood. I will keep this blog updated!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Reunion Time

Speaking of wanting my family around, I have decided it's time to spur some plans for a small family reunion. This all started in early autumn, when Erin came to the capital to visit her friend and we just had to make time to get together, and at the same time Meghan sent me an invitation for her wedding. What followed was in immediate friending of all my Southern-convert cousins across facebook and myspace, why hadn't we thought of this before? We've been out of contact since Grandpa Andress' funeral, in 2002. The hour or so spent with Erin wasn't nearly enough, I didn't get halfway through the story of what's happened to me over the past 6 years, she didn't even get started on hers, and there was silliness to be had, but not enough. Not only that, but I realized I was missing out on this kind of connection from all my Andress cousins! While Erin plans to make semi-frequent trips to D.C., I think all of us began to think that a reunion is long overdue. It would have been absolutely lovely to be able to visit for Meg's wedding, but it unfortunately conflicted with my finals and an unforseen car accident. So REALLY FOR REAL plans are in the works for March! I can't wait to fly down and see my extended family!
(photo from left: Matt, Lia, Erin, Meghan, Michael, Sarah, Aunt Carol, Uncle Hal)

What It Means to Me

For lots of people, Christmas is a favored holiday. Personally, I prefer the Forth of July- it’s simple, it’s warm out, there are explosions, friends, and of course, hotdogs. (Who could ask for more?) Christmas is notorious for flinging crappy weather at the Northern Hemisphere, creating disagreeable shopping situations—for the shoppers and retail employees alike, and there are so very many Scrooges and Grinches who ruin the supposed sprit of the season. People get depressed around Christmas, whether it’s because there isn’t a mate to share the season with, or because there is a mate who requires too much Christmas giving. These are all excellent reasons why it’s everyone’s favorite holiday.

I remember feeling the Christmas blues as a kid- it was always so stressful to have to accompany adults to the packed mall to finish shopping, to dress up for boring dinners for people I didn’t know and who didn’t bring any playmates over for me। Also, as a holiday I always spent with one parent and not the other, the holiday and its 12 days came to stand for a lack of family instead of a gift of family. As I’ve gotten older, that tradition has only continued as I’ve lived away from home. Of course, no to be a bah-humbug, there are good memories associated with the holidays, too. Grandpa Andress’ house was always warm, smelled good despite the dead people in the basement (ha ha) and if I was lucky, full of cousins. Not to mention his pumpkin pie is still unrivaled. I love the sad, nostalgic Vince Guaraldi music for A Charlie Brown Christmas. And there is, of course, the joy of giving—there is something wonderful about a person’s face when they love the gift you’ve given them, no matter what the occasion. But actually, my favorite thing about Christmas is the tree. It’s not in the presents underneath, or really even the fun of decorating it with loved ones. (This year, while hanging ornaments strategically with Joseph, he said, “I really wonder where the tradition of decorating trees came from,” to which I replied, “I’m pretty sure it’s Pagan.” “Don’t say that,” whispered the exasperated Catholic!) But after all the garlands and balls and trinkets are on it, and it’s dark outside and quiet inside, I have always loved the smell of the needles being heated up by the lights. It soothed me as a child, and still makes me introspective when I sit near it alone.

Joseph’s mom could make a career out of Christmas tree design. Every year she has theme, and months before I got to see her work with my own eyes, I heard stories about the wonder that is her gift of Christmas tree decorating. This year, she used a ladder to add glittery false snow flocking to the 12-foot-plus tree in the front yard. Then it was somehow smashed through a couple of door frames into the living room. The tree is too tall for the room, and the tip-top boughs bend when they reach the ceiling, like the tree indulged in the "Eat Me" candies of Alice in Wonderland. From across the hall, it looks like Narnia is in the drawing room, because the snow-covered tree is literally the only thing you can see. I’ve included pictures to prove it. So it’s nice that the tree requirement for my happy holiday is checked off, now I would just like my family, please.