Adieu, WordPress.

September 15, 2008

All right, guys, I’ve had it with WordPress! I’ve switched to Blogger. So update your bookmarks now! (You do have me bookmarked, right? *makes pouty face*)

Raquella Bella on Blogger

Yay! I love you guys!


I miss my puppies.

September 12, 2008


OK, they’re not puppies anymore. They’re dogs. One is getting to be an old dog — Anna barks and grumbles a lot, has a mild case of arthritis and a milky film over her left eye. When we don’t pay her immediate attention, she stamps her feet and her little claws click on the wooden floor. Frasier, a little younger, is probably around 6, but he’s still as hyper and as playful as he was when we first brought him home. Actually, when we first brought him home, he was a pitiful thing, dehydrated, coughing some awful gurgling cough for weeks, recovering from when my grandmother drove him to us, a few hundred miles in her SUV, without giving him water, on one of the hottest days of summer. Anyway, since he’s gotten over that, he’s been done with the seriousness of life. Always smiling.

Here are pictures of them, dozens and dozens of miles away, in Virginia at my parents’ house. There is no way I could ever have a dog here in the city — I don’t know how people do it. But hardly a day goes by that I don’t wish I could plop Frasier on my lap, like this.


Welcome to the cusp.

September 12, 2008


It’s a little tentative in NYC, like a rain is poised to slice open the clouds, and a bit chilly. We’re right on the cusp of fall, when the trees bend over and die and the wind whips through the buildings and bites at our faces. Here are some still lifes by local artist Jesse Frohman to remind you of what comes after this season and the next… beautiful, revitalizing life.


Hanging with Nastia Liukin.

September 10, 2008

Look this way! No, look this way!

Nastia and the Vanilla Star team. (CEO Mark Levy in the dark blue.)

Nastia and the Vanilla Star team. (CEO Mark Levy in the dark blue.)

Singing Vanilla Star tees for fans.

Signing Vanilla Star tees for fans.

Posing with a fan... I mean, a reporter! (That's me on the left.)

Posing with a fan... I mean, a reporter! (That's me on the left)

Today, I got to steal a few minutes with Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin, who stopped by the Vanilla Star Showroom on 40th Street in NYC to promote her upcoming Vanilla Star sportswear line, the Nastia Gold Collection.

Personal note: I can’t even do a cartwheel! I’m the most gymnastically challenged person ever, but it’s always been one of my favorite Olympics events — probably for that reason. Dominique Moceanu, Kerri Strug, 1996 — I was hooked!

My impression of Nastia? Completely normal. Normal, normal, normal, if not a little shy! When a photog asked her to strike a pose — “Turn a little, give me a little snaz!” — she giggled nervously, put her hand on her hip and gave a cute little normal smile.

OK, she’s not ready for Bryant Park (though she told me she did get to check out a bit of Fashion Week while in the city). But I like that. Good skin, but not perfect, blonde hair, but not bleached, skinny, but not uber-thin. She’s a normal person completely inunduated by her success, if not a bit disoriented — like you or I would be had we been plucked out of the blogosphere and shoved onto fame’s unforgiving rollercoaster.

I can’t blame her — she’s touring with Disney’s Tour of the Gymnastic SuperStars until November 16 (35 cities!), simulatenously touring with Vanilla Star to promote her line, filming a guest spot on Gossip Girl, talking about an athleticwear line with GK and working on a Cover Girl campaign for fall! Basically, she’s a smart girl who’s trying to keep her act together and smartly manage her success. Vanilla Star nailed it with the title of the ad campaign she’s gracing: Smart Girls Rock!

Amidst autographs for Vanilla Star clients and a few hurried minutes of design work with the VS team, Nastia managed to give me five (PR people emphasized the five) minutes of her golden time. So nice! Read what she had to say!

Before the Olympics, most people hadn’t heard of you. Now you’re designing your own line for Vanilla Star, planning ads for Cover Girl, on the front of a Wheaties box…. How’s it been since Beijing?
It’s been surreal. Every morning I wake up and it takes a few minutes for me to think, ‘Was that a dream, or was that real?’ Luckily, I can say it’s real. It’s been the best time of my life. I’m just trying to take it day by day.

You’re on some of the gossip blogs now, like Perez Hilton has written a bit about you. Have you seen any of those? What do you think?
I have seen them, and it’s funny, because before the Olympics I was always reading People.com and stuff for news, so it’s so weird to be on it now… it’s cool. A lot of people recognize me now which is weird for me because three weeks ago only people who followed gymnastics or really followed the Olympics knew who I was. I got into gymnastics because it was fun and it was something I loved. I never thought it would bring me to where I am now.

Like to fashion. Are you a fashionista? Have you ever designed anything before?
My mom and I design all my leotards for competition and practice — not the Olmypic ones, though — so I’ve always had that creative side.

What’s your personal style like?
Not too fancy. I love to get dressed up sometimes, like this week for Fashion Week I got to wear some really nice dresses. I got to sit in the second row at the Max Azria show, and it was really cool. But most days it’s just casual stuff.. cute T-shirts, hoodies, jeans with heels. Most of the time I’m just glad not to be wearing a leotard!

Speaking of leotards… everyone’s talked about the pink leotard [that you wore when you won gold] at the Olympics. Did you get to choose what you wore at Beijing?
We all got eight or nine long-sleeved leos (leotards) and we had to match every day, except for the individual competition. I chose the pink one, because it was different. It was a lucky choice!

What can we expect from your Vanilla Star collection?
The whole idea is it’s stuff that I would actually wear. Some fun tees and stylish jeans. The concept is that girls who look up to me can wear this and be wearing something that I’d wear. We’re doing half the collection for holiday, and then we’ll do some back-to-school next fall.

Are you working on anything else in fashion?
I’m talking about doing a collection with GK [Sportswear]; they’ve been my sponsors for a while. I’ve designed some pieces for them but now I might do a full line.

So… I have to ask about [your upcoming appearance on] Gossip Girl. Are you a fan?
I read all the books before the TV show came out. Then when I found out the show was coming out, I just wanted to meet the cast! I never thought I’d be on the show!

Are we going to see you [at the Olympics] in London in 2012?
I don’t know. It’s not out of the question, but that’s four years away and I’m trying to take every day a step at a time.

What’s in store for the future?
It’s hard to say… there’s so much! I definitely want to stay in gymnastics. I want to put the message out there that if you stick to anything you can do it and make it your life.

FYI: Nastia’s collection of juniors jackets, hoodies, tees and jeans will hit major department stores (think Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears) by Thanksgiving, just in time for those who want to give a little gold for the holidays.


Big heads, small ears.

September 9, 2008


Me and my old Parisian roommate, Estelle, talked a few times about getting a cat when we lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, together last winter. One afternoon, while we were chatting about kitties while walking around in the snow, she said, in her funny-sounding English, “I like the cats with the big fat heads and the tiny ears.” This resulted in lots of laughing — and an inside joke to last a lifetime.

That’s why I was uber-excited when Kris over at Krisatomic introduced me to this gem. I have no idea what it’s called — I can’t read a thing on the page (I think it’s in Chinese). But it doesn’t really need words. Hope it does something for you. Personally, I could look at it and giggle all day long. (I’m easily amused, yeah.)

Note: I should have uber-exciting news — and an uber-exciting post — tomorrow or Thursday! Stay tuned, lovies!

Oh, almost forgot! Mosquito update: Last night, I was bitten on the face! The face! TWICE! There’s about to be some serious tiki-torch action at the Internet Cafe.


It’s raining, it’s pouring.

September 9, 2008

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary. — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It’s a dark and dreary day in the city. Just want to curl up and fall asleep while finishing Red Azalea.


Time out for Nie Nie.

September 8, 2008

A bit of oldish news, but very necessary for discussion. If you haven’t heard about the Nie Nie tragedy, blogger Stephanie Nielson and her husband, Christian, were in a horrible accident in a private plane three weeks ago. As of Friday, they were still in critical condition, Stephanie with burns over 80 percent of her body and Christian with burns over 30 percent. They have five children; the youngest is 23 months and the oldest is 6.

Out of this horrendous event, however, has come something incredible. Bloggers around the world have swathed the family in support, arranging more than 350 online fundraising auctions expected to bring in over $100,000 for the pair’s recovery, The New York Times said on Friday. Read the article here.

I think this says a lot about the impact of the blogosphere on personal lives. We talk a lot about how blogs bring people together politically, about how they rival newspapers sometimes for coverage of events and topics, how they compete with celebrity tabloids in their on-the-second posting of gossip — the content side of it all. But we don’t talk too much about the real connections people make with bloggers, especially those who blog about their lives, and how an author — someone never met, someone probably never talked to — can become a significant part of one’s day, if not a part of his family. This is the social part of it. Now’s a good time to talk about it.


American Apparel goes 80s… again.

September 8, 2008
An original Hypercolor tee.

An original Hypercolor tee.

AAs much more sophisticated-sounding Hyperchromatic tee.

AA's much more sophisticated-sounding Thermochromatic tee.

Oh American Apparel, how darlingly retro of you. The retailer of omgosh tight cotton/spandex-blend contraptions has released “thermochromatic” T-shirts, which change color according to body temperature. Touch the solid blueness with your hand, and oo! A white handprint appears!

Sorry, AA, but this has been done before. It was a brand called Hypercolor, and it was in the late 1980s. With those, though, you had to go a little more hardcore to get your color change — think holding your hairdryer to it for two to five minutes, or scalding it with your iron for a few. But those minutes were so worth it — when you were five. Anyone above that age probably doesn’t want a murky white mark to appear when the pits get a little sweaty. Milky pit stains, mmm.

Am I the only one not head-over-heels for American Apparel? I find their clothes a little too pricey and not too special. I find their beloved Summer Tees comparable to Hanes, with a four-times heavier price tag. And wearing anything but my navy blue bandeau dress (which, I admit, I love — it’s surprisingly chic), I find myself feeling a bit too much like the lost member of Fanny Pak.

Oh, almost forgot! Mosquito update: I was bitten again on my patio last night. I have to sit out there, because it’s the only place I can successfully steal my neighbors’ internet. I call it my Internet Cafe. (Maybe I deserve it for being such a shameless thief.)


Mosquitos in NYC.

September 5, 2008
This picture alone grosses me out.

This picture alone grosses me out.

So a couple mornings ago I woke up covered in mosquito bites. About five on my legs, one or two on my back… one even managed to nail the bottom of my foot! From my very basal knowledge of mosquitoes (which I discovered is spelled with a “toes,” not tos, just now) I associated mosquitoes with wet areas like lakes and green areas and the country. Not too much of that in NYC. Boyfriend’s been bitten lately, too. What’s the problem?

I decided to investigate a bit and wound up on the New York City government’s website. I was a little suprised at what I’ve found: Despite sprayings and other mosquito-killing measures in all the other boroughs going back over the past several months, Manhattan has no mosquito sprayings scheduled for this year. Just to make sure this wasn’t an oddity, I checked out last year’s schedule, and Manhattan only came up once, for the spraying of a single cemetary in Washington Heights. NO sprayings occurred in Manhattan from 2006-2004.

Now I’m not an expert on this by any means, but I find this very odd. Manhattan has the most poeple; sure that can make it harder to spray, but it also makes it even more essential that it’s done. NYC’s Department of Health has an entire webpage dedicated to West Nile Virus, so it obviously knows the issue is important. And we’ve got water and park areas around here that could definitely afford to be sprayed.

If you live in a city, are you ever attacked by mosquitoes? What do you do to combat them? Know anything about spraying where you live?


Domo arigato?

September 4, 2008
c/o The Daily

c/o The Daily

The Uniqlo in SoHo (which I frequent) will be introducing this little guy into its store next week, says Fashion Week Daily. The first-ever robot to grace a retail store “will greet guests, make eye contact, recognize people, have arm movements, lead staff in motivational morning exercises and communicate promotions to customers,” The Daily says. His name is Wakamaru, after a famous 12th century warrior. Robot warriors helping me with my shopping? No thanks. I’m fine with disaffected teenagers.


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