Year of the Dog

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

 
Meryl Franzos, fairisle sweater, IBD, promotility
photo: Joshua Franzos

How's your new year going? Ours got off to a pretty scary start with a sick pup that needed to be hospitalized for a week. Our little two year old Jack Russell Terrier, Meatball, couldn't keep anything down and refused to eat or drink, was in a lot of pain, and rapidly dehydrating before our eyes. It was awful. We did a battery of tests to rule likely culprits out (foreign objects), (accidental poison or toxic substances), (common parasites), (possible diseases), ( organ failures), (etc etc etc) and I spent countless hours sitting on gross hospital floors, knowingly messing up my back just so I could offer Meatball what little comfort and moral support that I could. He either wanted to be held or flop down on a cold tile floor away from me. It was heartbreaking to see him shake and shiver and pace around the room in pain. Eventually we ran out of tests to run and found ourselves falling down the diagnostic funnel to either doggy Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or the "C" word. We knew Meatball had some food sensitivities or allergies that we were already sleuthing out under the care of our primary care vet, but it wasn't until this very acute episode of gastrointestinal distress that we knew the severity of Meatball's very inflamed digestive tract. The vet called last night with the lab results of his biopsy. We let out a sigh of relief that it's IBD and not cancer. While IBD is an auto-immune condition and is not curable, it can be wrangled into remission with diet and medication. We're getting our incorrigible little Meatball back in fighting shape, although he's not much of a fighter at all, in fact, he is the only dog I've ever 100% trusted with children. He is a lover and on good days, always down for a game of Keep Away. We are over the moon that we have more time with this little guy.
photo: Joshua Franzos

meryl franzos, promotility, ibd, government shutdown
photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

Because of the weeks of his hospitalization and intensive care, I learned about things I've never even heard of before. Promotility drugs. These were used on Meatball because the digestion in his stomach had slowed so much it wasn't happening at all. And his oral sphincter (the train track changer that switches between swallowing and breathing) was so relaxed that the undigested contents of his stomach would just come out whenever. For a couple of days, Meatball couldn't control his other end either. In short, every part of Meatball's gastrointestinal system was either stopped or way out of whack. Whereas the muscles in a healthy system, from the tip of of your tongue, to your stomach (and finally terminating in your anus), move in a forward motion much like the gentle waves of the ocean. The food we consume gets carried ever forward into our bowels, where our bodies further derive vitamins and energy... unless this beautiful momentum stops due to illness or starvation. Promotility medications can jump start the forward momentum again. 

Jesus Christ! I thought, What a beautiful world of miracles we live in! The digestive process! The anatomical science that was harnessed to understand digestion and create medications to revive it! Lives saved! Life is good! Science FTMFW!!!

Meryl Franzos, fairisle sweater
photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

2018 was a weird year of creative and personal health logjams, in that I don't have much to show for myself this year via the Gregorian Calendar. In fact, it kind of feels like I'm still in 2018. But you know, the Chinese new year is coming up, (February 5) So, according to that calendar, we're still very much in the old year, The Year of the Dog. I've spent a lot of 2018 brooding about a lot, including how much time Meatball has taken me away from writing and how I'm not done with my edit, and blah, blah, blah the vane milestones of progress. But then in the instant I thought I might lose my Meatball, all my real priorities snapped back into sharp focus. Family, however we manage to cobble one together, is the soul of our connection to humanity. My pack is my beating heart. 

photo: Joshua Franzos

balenciaga ceinture boots
photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

I've been in a reflective state for the past few days, trying to scratch together something to write about here. The Year of the Dog, just sorta came to me on the wind, so I looked up what the Chinese zodiac said about 2018. It was eerily poignant.


"Indeed, Chinese Zodiac 2018 energies are dominated by the Earth element in its Yang form. It's an eventful year, marked by security concerns and the rise of social conservative movements within society. According to KarmaWeather's 2018 Chinese horoscope, many voices around the world rise to highlight the importance of the universal values of dialogue and solidarity, which are characteristic values of the Chinese zodiac sign of the Dog. Selfishness, greed, and ignorance being a major source of inequalities on Earth, only a social and cultural impulse, at the individual and collective level, can give new hope to the millions of people in the world who are still suffering from neglect, indifference and rejection from their community….However, it's expected that some of us shall experience short periods of loneliness or transient melancholy, which should however nourish the most sensitive and most creative minds among us. For others, these moments can result in a flutter in the implementation of their life plans, which will then be delayed until the following year."

-Written by KarmaWeather on August 8, 2016. Full page, here.


  Ok, so I haven't finished editing my book yet and put it out on the market. I didn't get pregnant. I haven't yet traipsed around Scotland and Wales, ducking in and out of ruined castles and centuries old pubs yet. Perhaps 2018 wasn't the best year for anyone. It certainly wasn't for us as a country. A leader that can't stop vomiting lies or develop any kind of semblance of empathy. A record-breaking government shutdown. A country that grows increasingly polarized, indifferent, and violent by the day. More and more people are choosing to view science as a belief system that's just not for them, hello, flat earthers in da house? We're not making America great again, the developmental waves of our 'sea to shining sea' isn't gently rolling forward...they're arrested. Seized. Frozen...Holy shit, I think the US itself needs promotility drugs.

In the final weeks of the Year of the Dog, perhaps we should all reflect on those values we love so dearly in our furry friends and apply them to our own lives and our dealings with our neighbors in this new year. Think gentle waves. Loyalty, selflessness, forgiveness, and 'crowning thy good with brotherhood' might be good promotility drugs to start with.

photo: Joshua Franzos




What I Wore:
sweater: J.Crew.
hat: J.Crew, same here.
skirt: past season Vince Camuto.
bag: past season Shades of Silence. 
boots: Balenciaga, hurry before they're gone! here.





Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh, 
















Mad Christmas Plaid

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

photo: Joshua Franzos
 
I like to wear plaid year round because I'm a bit of a punkrocker. (See these kick ass pants here). But for years at Christmas time, I tended to shy away from plaids and tartans because it felt... how shall I say... Waspy and Bunny MacDougal-y. And although 75% of me may be white anglo saxon protestant, 100% of that is Black Irish in spirit, if not actuality.


But as I get older, I've come to crave the romantic idea of tradition, including having a plaid that has been associated with your kin for hundreds of years. History has this weighty way of adding significance to things, not just plaid. As Josh and I grow as a married couple, we are thoughtfully incorporating more tradition into our lives, just not with a blanket approach, as tradition shouldn't be something you mindlessly do just because it's always been done that way. 

meryl franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

So we're doing us, and picking the best handed down traditions that honor our past, but we're also seeking out new ones that will honor our future. We light a huge iron menorah each year, trim a tree, and spend Christmas day together documenting volunteerism around Pittsburgh for #mitzvahday. We also make a lot of food this time of year, from tried and true family recipes (Roasted Chestnut Soup) to a lot of recipes we've never tired before. Some are successful (Roast Beef), some are utterly forgettable (umm...), and some we just know better than to attempt at all (fruit cake). We've also talked about making a family crest or coat of arms, because, hello? FUN.

meryl franzos, snake earrings
photo: Joshua Franzos

meryl franzos, christmas outfit, plaid socks
photo: Joshua Franzos

meryl franzos, christmas outfit
photo: Joshua Franzos

greek fisherman's hat, meryl franzos, christmas outfit
photo: Joshua Franzos

But back to plaid. Even though I initially bristled, there's honestly nothing wrong with Charlotte or Bunny MacDougal's traditional Christmas plaid for the Highland Fling in SATC (other than Bunny's latent racism-a very bad tradition). Bunny's preppy Christmas style is boldly her own, and because of that I found myself a little jealous and with a serious case of Christmas outfit FOMO. I longed to don some gay apparel, but I didn't want to commit the closet space or the cash to hyper seasonal garb. Enter these $7.50 plaid ankle socks from ASOS. I think I finally have a Christmas outfit on my terms. 

greek fisherman's hat
photo: Joshua Franzos
 
vintage horsebit bag, unmarked gucci
photo: Joshua Franzos


plaid socks, socks and heels
photo: Joshua Franzos


Truth be told, I've always wanted to try a socks and heels look, but my fear was it might look like an attempt at Nabakov's baby sexpot. If the socks had been white with a lace frill, it probably would have. But I think I pulled it off successfully because plaid socks makes people think of grandpa and not sexually precocious little girls with lollipops. Sooo, win for me! Okay, so I certainly didn't think I'd end up here when I started writing this post, but here we are. Enough talking about Lolita on a Christmas blog post, baby Jesus can only take so much sacrilege. I'm gonna scoot because this post is becoming just a bunch of mad plaid rambles,  but I hope you have the Merriest Christmas and rock out the rest of 2018 like it's 1999.



P.S. Make sure you tell me some of your favorite traditions in the comments, specifically ones that have been handed down and  the ones you've chosen for yourself.



Meryl Franzos, holiday outfit, christmas outfit
photo: Joshua Franzos




What I Wore: 
Hat: Greek Fisherman Hat by Goorin Bros. here
Earrings: ASOS
Sunglasses: Amazon, here.
Bag: Vintage Italian from NCJW Thriftique.
Top: Vintage Anna Sui circa 2001.
Skirt: Vintage Anna Sui circa 2001.
Holster vest: Vintage Dries Van Noten circa 2003.
Tartan socks: ASOS, here.
Heels: Jimmy Choo, here.






Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh,











Urban Light

Sunday, November 4, 2018

 
Urban Light, Elie Wiesel, Temple
photo credit: Joshua Franzos

Title: Urban Light
Artist: Chris Burden (1946 - 2015)
Type: Assemblage
Year: 2008
Dimensions: (320.5in X 686.5in X 704.5in)
Location: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

photo credit: Experiencing Los Angeles Blog

God, I think, is a son of a bitch. You can call me a heretic, but you can't say I'm not a believer. Two Born Agains ensured the vital roots of my belief with tactics that would probably violate the Geneva Convention. After my father died and my mother grew terminally ill, a question arose that has challenged my faith since college: If God exists, how could God allow so much atrocity to occur in this world? While there are and have been beautiful things in my life, there are and have been deeply tragic and evil things in my life too. Something doesn't add up. I have fallen into a religious bergschrund, somewhere between the church and atheism and I can't seem to find the surface. Id est, if God and I had a Facebook relationship status, it would be: It's Complicated.

The tragedy of the believer, it is deeper than the tragedy of the non-believer.  - Elie Wiesel


God and I may be on the outs, but it doesn't mean you and God can't have a lovely relationship. I think we all know how some relationships are easy and some, well, they repeatedly test every ounce of our sanity, so we ignore their calls and dodge behind objects to avoid them. Art, on the other hand, is easy for me. I regard art with a reverence significant enough to be near spiritual. If you watch me walk into a gallery or museum, my hands automatically clasp behind me. Positively supplicant. So when I found myself at Chris Burden's Urban Light installation on Wilshire Blvd, the fact that 202 historic streetlamps (originally lighting the Southern California streets in the 1920's and 1930's) were arranged in the form of a classical Greek temple was not lost on me. 

And what is a temple? The dictionary calls it a building devoted to the worship of, or regarded as the dwelling place of a god or gods, or other objects of religious reverence. In this temple of salvaged streetlamps, I felt the same awe, safety, and peace a Jewish person might feel when they go to temple. 

October 27, 2018. Eleven temple goers - people seeking community, perhaps some praise songs, and perhaps also an uplifting message from their Rabbi- were gunned down and violently murdered by a hate-filled lunatic in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill. It was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack on US soil, ever. The pain of the friends and families of the victims is excruciating. The Jewish community was rocked to its core. Pittsburgh was too. Ditto the world. Suddenly temples no longer feel safe.

When innocent blood has been shed, something doesn't add up. It never does. It is not surprising that I find myself drawn, but uncomforted by the words of Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel.

"Some people who read my first book, Night, they were convinced that I broke with the faith and broke with God. Not at all. I never divorced God. It is because I believed in God that I was angry at God, and still am. But my faith is tested, wounded, but it's here. So whatever I say, it's always from inside faith, even when I speak the way occasionally I do about the problems I had, questions I had. Within my traditions, you know, it is permitted to question God, even to take Him to task."
I did not pray to God this week. I had nothing nice to say to him. Instead, when I needed peace, I revisited Urban Light temple in my mind, and when I looked up the artist's statement for the Urban Light installation,"it is a statement about what constitutes a sophisticated society - safe after dark and beautiful to behold." Wait. Did God just slide into my DM's?

Squirrel Hill and Pittsburgh have some work ahead. As a people, we cannot be complacent or fall into despair. We need to leave our respective silos and strive for inclusion...nay, we must *active fucking verb* INCLUDE! INCLUDE! INCLUDE! because it is the bedrock of a sophisticated and progressive society and because of it, we will be something beautiful to behold.

May our faith in what our temples stand for, wherever we find them, continue to inspire us to fill the dark corners of this world with goodness and light. And for goodness sake, VOTE.


VOTE ON TUESDAY!!!!



go to temple, tree of life
photo: Joshua Franzos

the stooges tshirt, band tshirt
photo: Joshua Franzos

white chuck taylors
photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos
In an effort to find my new normal, I'm getting back to some of the things that regularly happen or give me joy, even if it feels a little weird to talk about fashion when there are greater problems looming in the world. Last week my workplace was in pure triage mode, working very hard on the logistics of last week's funerals and shivas for the victims, coordinating with media etc, but we are also working very hard on the security and resiliency needs of the Jewish community into the future. It feels good to be doing boots on the ground work in the wake of this tragedy. If you are able to donate to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh's Victims of Terror fund, that link is here. If you just came here for the pictures and the fashion (outfit details are below) but some how got roped into reading my words, thank you. Thank you for reading my blog this week.






What I Wore: 

Sunnies: Ray-Ban aviators, here!
Faux suede motorcycle jacket: past season Bar III
Stooges t-shirt: here!
Pleated skirt: Mango, here!
Purse: vintage Carlos Falchi
Sneakers: Nike Lunarlon/ Converse Chuck Taylor collaboration, similar here!




Your bosom friend from Pittsburgh, 








S&M

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

photo: Joshua Franzos

Fall weather finally arrived in Pittsburgh and I'm just not feeling it. Not feeling any of the fall trends: head to toe animal prints, shearling, oversized coats, plaid suits, logomania. Not feeling the pumpkin spice. Not feeling the apple cider. Not feeling the shorter days...I think I left my heart in Santa Monica three weeks ago. 


photo: Joshua Franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

Don't get me wrong, I love fall, but I love summer more. There, I said it. I know you aren't supposed to pick a favorite child, but now it's on record. I love the long days and the informality of it. I love the fresh produce, I love the time we take for easy living and backyard grilling. I love writing while the sun is at it's highest and catching the golden hour with my husband later. I love summer's perceived freedom and I love jeans and a good pocket t-shirt.  

photo: Joshua Franzos

Summer has been lasting longer and longer for a few years now, going well into October before it finally loosens it grip. I'm always late to fall fashion because I'm reluctant to let go too.  But I'll get to the hygge eventually. Isn't it ironic that I fell in love with a pair of Scandinavian jeans this summer? I saw them on instagram and knew I had to have them. I didn't care the cost. I didn't care that they weren't sold in the states and that I would have to use a translator to order the correct size and ship them to me. Luckily it all worked out and they fit me perfectly. I've lived in them this summer and as fall creeps up on me, I will continue to. I'll just add a scarf and a woolly cardigan and sip hot, spiked cider while something savory burbles away in the slow cooker. I'll get pumpkins for the porch and decorate our mantel with candles and our cast iron owl luminaries, but I'll be thinking about the sunny evenings walking on the beach with husband. I'll be thinking about that until it's time for California and summer, my favorite season, my favorite place, to come around once again.




What I Wore: 
White t-shirt: Ann Taylor Loft 
Shoes: Chuck Taylors with Nike Lunarlon soles, here
Purse: vintage Carlos Falchi






photo: Joshua Franzos


Your Bosom Friend in Santa Monica,

Swimming at Chateau Marmont

Sunday, September 30, 2018

 
photo: Joshua Franzos

I can count at least four times now that I've booked a vacation and forgotten to pack a swimsuit. But if travel teaches us anything, it teaches us to roll with the punches and the delays, and an ever growing swim suit collection. I found my camo Melissa Odabash Swimsuit in the window of Santa Monica boutique, Hiptique. The cut and the fabric camoflage and flatter in the best ways possible.


photo: Joshua Franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

As you may know, I've been dealing with infertility. I have been advised to do (or not do) a lot of things, including gaining some body fat in an effort for optimal hormonal balance. Part of me is really starting to think it's busy work, just a delay tactic and another example of pinning "you must be doing something wrong" on the woman. Then another part of me thinks, what if that really is the thing holding you up? Then enter thirty other recommended things that you could be doing or not doing that could be THE THING standing in the way between you and a chubby baby in your arms. So you do or not do the things and your thoughts for the entire day are consumed by the doing or not doing of things (see my last post.) Welcome to my neurotic and unsustainable world. Anyway, it hasn't been that hard to gain weight as avoiding the gym is easy when progesterone supplementation makes you feel like a human slug. Or when getting your monthly period feels like a dementor sucking all the optimism out of you. Ergo, I have gained some weight and because of that I certainly did not have any plans or desire to do a swimsuit blog post. Come to think of it...I've never done a swimsuit blog post... Even at my stomach's flattest, largest thigh gappest, wrinkle free facest...I don't know about you, but I never seemed to be good enough or fit enough to attempt it. There's always an excuse isn't there? In retrospect, that's an utter shame and lately, I've had quite enough of not being enough. Or too this. Or too that. Societal expectations are often so ingrained that we create our own sort of Azkaban, but it just so happens that I'm running low on fucks to give.

Photo: Joshua Franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

I do not know what the future holds for me, but it's starting to sink in that there may be some experiences I just may never be intimate with. In understanding that, I know that all other experiences that come my way I will wholeheartedly devour like a hungry lioness. I don't mean to minimize or make this emotional journey I've been on sound so logical and mechanically processed as to become a trite tale of making lemonade from my lemons. It's certainly not and never will be so neatly packaged as to conveniently fit into a blog post; it has literally filled volumes trying to wrap my head around it. However, (here comes the bloggy hook) when the stars align and you get a classic pin-up bathing suit and you're staying at the legendary Hollywood hotel, Chateau Marmont, and they upgrade you to a cottage next to the pool...you let your hair down, toss your green tasseled room keys on the lounge chair, have a poolside bourbon with your husband, and let yourself forget your self imposed cages. Where does the confidence come from you ask? It's called having a wardrobe to help get you in character, it's called having a director of photography that knows your best angles, and also it's called acting, darling. It's the Tinseltown way. Promise me you'll do it so well you believe it too.

photo: Joshua Franzos



Your Bosom Friend in Hollywood,










What I wore:
pin-up suit: Melissa Odabash.
Sandals: summer '17 Mossimo.
Sunnies: Ray-Ban here!



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