Category Archives: Opinion

What makes a woman “strong”?

As the summer days dwindle and university quickly approaches for Sarah and I, I began to wonder what makes a woman “strong”? Sure, there are those save the world types like Michelle Obama or Mother Theresa. They light the world on fire for a specific cause or are very ambitious. What about people in our every day lives that make it better even if they aren’t famous or well-known? It could be the barista who smiles as she delivers a latte or the mail carrier.

I’ve been thinking about starting a new series at BCP centering around strong women and what makes them inspirational. But what do you all think makes a woman inspirational or strong? Who would you like to see in the series? What inspires you to be a better person?

Image from WeHeartIt.

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A Roman-Spanish Affair

The wanderlust in my soul has been aching for adventures abroad because it’s been a while since I left the United States. Sure, I’ve had crazy fantasies about jumping on the next plane to any destination outside of the States, but that’s not an option at this point. Instead of moping about, I decided to write about the places that have forever etched themselves onto my soul. I’ve been thinking a lot about Rome lately, but more distinctly, the Spanish Steps. Five years ago, I stumbled upon this epic Roman monument wandering the streets in search for the placard to John Keats (By the way, he died in Rome on February 23, 1821 from tuberculosis). Dorky, I know. My parents wanted to plan a family trip before I went to university and we stayed in Italy for a month. For some reason the Spanish Steps have always fascinated me and drew me in like 18th century drug that no history nut could resist.

The Spanish steps were first constructed in 1717 by Francesco de Sanctis. The purpose of the steps was to link the Bourbon Spanish Embassy (at that time) to the Holy See. It is composed of 138 stairs and is one of the largest staircases ever constructed in Europe.

The day I visited, I stayed all day basking in the warm Italian sunlight. I pretended to read a novel, but what I really did was people watch and spy on attractive Italian men. Perhaps, at that time, it was juvenile, but I shall never forget that perfect day. The Spanish Steps have more of a sentimental value, not only because of that day, but because it was made famous by “Roman Holiday” where Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn descend down the stairs while passing the time adventuring through the brilliant city.

If I ever do get married, it will be on the Spanish Steps. Where are some of your favorite places in the world? What makes those sights so special to you?

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The only people for me are the mad ones…

In honor of fellow blogger, Miss Sarah, being in London, I found this picture of our quote working at the City Museum. Sarah has always loved this quote and volunteered it for the name of our blog, Blue Centerlight Pop.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, … but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles, exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'” – Jack Kerouac – “On the Road”

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If You Follow Me, Would You Go?

Marina is adrift in her life. She runs from the numbness of her father’s suicide to Japan. She is in Shika, Japan for one year to be an English teacher. She thought she could escape her past, but in Japan her past found her.

In Malena Watrous’s If You Follow Me, she presents Marina, a young woman of 22 who follows her lover to Japan to teach English. In the book, the character references going to Japan because she wasn’t sure what else to do with her life. Marina is this raw, emotional character who leaps from the pages of the book and sucks in the reader.

Marina lives in Shika, an equivalence to rural Georgia, with Carolyn in a small disastrous flat that was occupied by American missionaries before them. The two inherit random junk from past inhabitants – including a monstrous refrigerator called an Amana that reeks of rotten beef. Among having to adjust to culture polar opposite to American culture, Marina receives almost daily letters from her supervisor Hiroshi Miyosh about their gomi, or trash. In Japan, there are very strict rules about the disposal of any type of trash. Only on certain days, certain parts of trash can be thrown away and must be placed in a special bin. Soon, Marina is convinced all of the neighbors watch her waiting for her to make a “gomi trash mistake”.

Soon, she begins teaching English at the local schools. She finds the students difficult to connect with because, at first, she only teaches the secretarial students. The students are all female, except for one male student Haruki, who locked himself in his room for four years. She tries creating worksheets to teach the students, but they are all disinterested. Frustrated, she tries to reach out to her Japanese colleagues to curb her loneliness, but she only feels isolation because of the language and culture gap.

Faced with more challenges, Marina begins teaching at the local elementary school that helps to find other people besides Carolyn. The art teacher allows her pupils to draw Marina while Marina gets to know the other students. Particularly, one Korean student who barely speaks Japanese attracts her attention because her inability to speak to the language. There is something about the girl Marina can’t shake – her loneliness, her connection to another foreigner or her inability to fit into Japanese society. Either way, Marina begins to really question why she went to Japan: Was it because of Carolyn? Was it her running from her dad’s suicide? Or was it something else?

At this point in the book, Marina really begins to ask herself what she is going to do with her future. After a shared kiss with her supervisor, she begins to doubt her relationship with Carolyn and the two begin drift apart. Marina flip-flops between teaching the elementary students and a class of teen-aged boys who work in the local power plant. They challenge her every day because no matter what lessons she presents in English the boys don’t care. They drove another female teacher from the school because they sexually harrassed her. After an interesting lesson about sexual education and a slip up with a banana, Marina realizes she must stop being timid and stand up for herself in a very loud way.

I skimmed a shelves of books looking for something new to read when this one leaped out. I looked at the back expecting to have another easy chick lit book to break up the endless science fiction novels I’ve been reading for a literature class. After getting 50 pages in, I couldn’t put the book down. There was something raw and clingy about Marina throughout the book. The “gomi trash” mistakes are a humorous part of the novel, but it was more about the themes of finding one’s self and the attraction of a foreign country. Marina is 22, and so am I. She turns 23 in the book and I am on the cusp of turning 23. Marina has an anxiety about the future and what she is going to do with the rest of her life, and so do I.

Watrous addresses the fear of being at a strange in between age that doesn’t seem to have much significance in American society. In one passage, Marina and Carolyn are talking about being 23. Carolyn begins, “At age 25 for some reason, lovers in Japan get together to eat sponge cake on Christmas Even. These sponge cakes go half off on December 25, when no one wants them anymore. At twenty-five, an unmarried woman is referred to as a Christmas cake.” Who wants to be known as a Christmas cake by the age of 25?!

I won’t ruin the ending for the readers, but it was refreshingly new and pleasant to read besides the umpteenth science fiction book.

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Milan Fashion Week: Armani and Bottega Veneta

After viewing these fashion shows, I was ecstatic to see COLOR! Finally, two designers use a palette not entirely made of neutral tones of black, gray, beige or white. Armani was my favorite show of the day because of the multiple bright colors and playful attitude of the clothes.

Armani

Bottega Veneta

This dress is for my fellow blogger, Sarah.

This dress is my favorite. There’s nothing like red to make an outfit pop!

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Milan Fashion Week: Dsquared, Gianfranco Ferré, Jil Sander and Versace

It’s day two of fashion week in Milan. On February 26, Dsquared, Gianfranco Ferré, Jil Sander and Versace revealed their fall fashions.

Dsquared

Dsquared’s line was my favorite out of the day. I love the stark contrast of black and red used subtly interlaced on the lipstick, dresses and tights. The majority of the clothes were black business suits with a 1940s and 1950s cut.

Gianfranco Ferré

This line featured a lot of black power business suits and neutrol tones of white, beige and gold. The gold dress is the boldest fashion choice by Gianfranco Ferré this season.


Jil Sander

Personally, I didn’t care for any of this designer’s clothing. I choice two of the more interesting samples. The first is a black plaid dress outfitted and the second a plaid suit that was replicated in many dark fall colors.

Versace


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Milan Fashion Week: Fendi and Prada

It’s fashion week in Milan! On February 25, Fendi and Prada debuted the latest trends for fall. Here are selected pieces:

Fendi

I love the balance of the white billowing sleeves and black shirt with black leggings. It looks very chic.

I’m never a fan of fur in fashion, but this one screamed Curella de Ville. Anna Wintour, anyone?

Again, I dislike the use of fur, but mustard is very in for the fall fashions. It was a huge theme during New York fashion week. The cut of the dress is calling back to the power suits of the 1980s.

Prada

A black dress is always in style, but this coming fall season, there is a hearkening back to the Victorian fashions.

There were several coats in this plaid style in variations of black, gold, purple and green.

I wasn’t floored by any of the designs from the Fendi and Prada shows, but it’s still early! What are some of your favorite fashions so far?

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