To the Nth Power

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

photo: Joshua Franzos
It all started in December 2018, when I had just a couple more months of being thirty-eight. Let's call it a soft-opening for the official kick-off of weirdness that I knew would eventually unfurl when my age year once again ended in a nine.




photo: Joshua Franzos
People usually use the beginning of a new year to start afresh, but I couldn't wait until January. I was a mess. A shell of a human. A burnt out wreck about to be picked over by carrion birds. After two and a half years of supplemental hormones, invasive procedures, setting daily, hourly, minutely fertility intentions, hemorrhaging massive amounts of scratch for a fallopian pipe dream, ending a twenty-nine year toxic relationship with someone who'd convinced me that my infertility was my fault because of A,B,C, D things or better yet, because I must not want it badly enough....I called it quits on trying for a family. Had I continued flailing, trying to sate the quack whims of non-medically trained "healer," had I continued being further and deeper dismayed each time my body let me down each month... ropes of saliva would've started pooling on my chest while I slipped into catatonic insanity. Dear reader, rest assured, my mental portcullis slammed down and "panic room procedures" ensued to protect myself from spiraling my way into a padded cell.

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos
 
meryl franzos, mrs. franzos, disco queen, jumpsuit chic, how to style a jumpsuit
photo: Joshua Franzos

I needed to tuck all the female failure away into a mental oubliette, throw away the key, and find my way back to myself. Trouble was, I didn't know who that was anymore. I used to love Adderall, so I started up on that again. I used to love working out, so I started that again too. Medicated responsibility and a habit of physical activity were the bread crumbs I thought I'd dropped and could follow backwards. The path looked similar, but also different. For a fleeting moment, I thought I could be who I used to be, but that is impossible. Going backwards and chasing a previous version of yourself is like trying to catch your shadow. So I embraced the reptile evolving into a winged beast, rising out of the murky depths of a disgusting primordial stew. 
photo: Joshua Franzos
I started to lose weight, which was great because I'd been uncomfortable and perilously straining the fastenings of clothing for years. After a month of exercise, my clothes started fitting again without the threat of putting out someone's eye with a projectile button. Though I was still prone to random teary-eyed moments, I was also thrilled because I was regaining a semblance of autonomy over my own body again. Then one day in early February, I woke up and my back was shitty again. I moved around like a hunch-back centenarian. 
photo: Joshua Franzos
Operation Getting-my-groove-back came to a screeching halt and once again my body was back to betraying me. As pain often does when it is bad enough, it manifests itself spiritually, as well as physically and I was convinced God was on some tirade to prove to me that I was not in control of SHIT. God and I aren't really on speaking terms so I doubled down by waking up at 4:30-45am to go to the gym and very slowly plod on the treadmill to lessen my revert backwards into planet muffin top. If I couldn't go fast or hard, I had to make up for it bulk. Costco sized exercise, because I simply didn't have the bandwidth to lose all the ground I'd gained athletically. I committed to physical therapy. Doing physical therapy exercises and walking very gingerly on a treadmill doesn't account for much, calorically speaking, but it feels like it does when you're injured. The weight re-gain, slowed, but did not stop. I got back on a scale again and I could not bear to watch the needle go up. 

photo: Joshua Franzos
In the face of a caring for a dog with an auto immune disease, having to suddenly dye the roots of my hair every four weeks (because of the a fore mentioned stress of almost losing a sick dog), babysitting insurance and auto body shops after someone rear-ended me, after about six weeks of back and forth with the worst customer service ever, it turned out I was definitely getting screwed over for $190 for a lost ASOS package, my new work and writing schedule weren't co-existing any longer, I was still having bitter moments of mourning, my skin had became dull and wrinkled overnight... 

Thirty-nine flattened me into the pavement like an ACME anvil. 

I. Could. Not. 

2019 was supposed to be the year of me regaining control. I was in no mood for lessons from God. I think the rage I'm usually so good at keeping nice and tidy and contained like a bodily fluid, may have reached out of my nostril and yanked me up by the bootstraps. So on March 15, I squared my shoulders and began to watch what I ate. I started keeping a food diary with an phone app called Lose It! (Because that was what I was going to do if I hit rock bottom again.) Though it often pained me, it was also illuminating how many empty calories I consumed. Somewhere between the calorie restriction, walking on a treadmill for 2+ hours per day in addition to physical therapy and being completely BORED out of my gourd while doing so, my brain turned inward and began cannibalizing itself. It was like a post apocalyptic cage match in there, a battle to the death. I tried to read, but it was no use. My early morning gym walks became my ADHD bugout time, where I would frantically google the answers to the weaknesses and character flaws my brain kept pinpointing and pick-pick-picking at. 

photo: Joshua Franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos
Welcome to the Nth year.  "To the Nth Power" is a phrase used in mathematics to indicate that a number will be multiplied a certain amount of times by its own self. I just quoted math. GTFO. I'm not superstitious, but I have moments of superstition. Those years ending in a nine get me. They force my hand for all the make up #fomo of the decade I'm about to leave in the dust, and the setting myself up proper for the decade I'm about to burst into. At nineteen, I...don't remember. At 29, I'd only started to recognize the itch of shedding skin and most notably, ended my first marriage. Ten years later, I'm happily remarried, but feel the itch of loosened skin in regard to things outside my control, i.e. fertility. Instead of feeling sad, I'm choosing mad. Can't have a baby? FUCK IT. I'M GOING ON A ZIKA BENDER IN THE MOST ZIKA CONCENTRATED TROPICAL ISLAND ON THE PLANET. Instead of pale gummed optimism in the face of a never ending mind fuck, I'm choosing the exit. Can't stop getting your period? I'M NOT A FAILURE, I QUIT. Instead of powerless, I'm choosing powerful. Can't get pregnant? FUCK IT. IMA


via GIPHY


If you can't do anything to control the things you can't control, I feel like you should chip away at the things that you can. Idle hands do the devil's work as they say. This year I hope to document some things that are actively helping me move on, in case you have things, fertility or otherwise, you need to move on from and a distraction will help. They'll probably sound silly and little when set along side a big life decision, like an Archie Comic shelved next to Marcel Proust. But one of the best things about emerging on the other side of all this is my inability to care about what doesn't matter anymore. Especially what people think, though, I'd prefer you didn't see me as a broken, failure of a woman. Look! There goes Meryl, she couldn't have kids. Now she's a hunched over female version Ethan Fromme. (That would make me a little sad.) But of course when I say you, I really mean me, and my perception of myself. It still needs work. We're all works in progress though, aren't we? So in the spirit of the Nth power, keep at it. Because I will be. Everything begins and ends within yourself. Seek out your talents and what gives you joy. Embrace them. Embrace yourself. You are more than the sum of the thing you can't do. Multiply yourself by yourself until you can confidently paint yourself in the colors you want to be seen. Everything else will follow, and as one passerby said in the alley of our photo shoot, "Love your outfit, ya, disco queen sex bomb!" Yes, that series of words will do, for now. I'm that because I've painted myself that way. You saw what I wanted you to see.

photo: Joshua Franzos
What I Wore:
Jumpsuit: Dusty Daze, on sale now here.
PVC clutch: gifted BCBG.
Platforms: gifted past season Louis Vuitton.
Hoops: vintage.
Cuff: Vintage.
Sunnies: Amazon, here.


Your friend in Pittsburgh,


The Legend of Ombre Hombre

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

ombre fur coat, pixies band tee, Meryl Franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

Happy Spring everyone! I love the spring and summer seasons, but as you will come to learn, I'm not much for traditional spring fashion tropes. It's such a do - goody fashion season. Even as a little girl, Easter-egg hued church dresses always felt like a sorbet colored sham and I wanted them removed from my body as quickly as possible.


via GIPHY

photo: Joshua Franzos

black and yellow, forsythia, Pittsburgh blogger
photo: Joshua Franzos

It's taken many moons, but I've finally accepted the fact that springtime pastels just aren't for me. I've slowly curated my wardrobe to suit my inner bad gal, and it is during the cool, occasionally warm, but not too warm months, where I can mix and match my fall and spring favorites and create some unlikely combos. Case in point, my east coast summer pants and my ombre fur jacket. I have to be honest with you, this week's look is in part inspired by the unmasked villains of the television series, "Scooby Doo, Where Are You!"




Scooby Doo villains were terrifying, intimidating monsters with names like "Ghost of Bigfoot," or the "Chocolate Technicolor Phantom," or "Fireball McPhan" before their identities and scruples were exposed by those dang, meddling kids. Once de-shrouded, they're weren't scary anymore with their big, dumb heads sticking out of a furry monster suit. They fell from legend back down to earth and became people again, people with an agenda that got the better of them. Scooby Doo never did a "Where Are They Now?" episode on the villains, but I hope a large number of them reconsidered their lives, paid the debts for their crimes, and eventually found a seamstress to re-purpose their furry monster costumes into chic furry jackets, cuz I'm seriously feeling that look because I'm apparently a villain myself.

 Let's back up a touch. Sometimes things are so ridiculous, it feels like we live in a Scooby Doo plot line.The Mueller report came out and President Trump has declared himself completely exonerated and White House spokeswoman Sara Huckabee Sanders is on record saying that anyone supporting the "Russian Collusion Witch Hunt" against Trump is guilty of treason - "which is punishable by death in this country." I may wear my feelings for Trump pretty graphically on my sleeve, and not understand the right's undying fealty to the incompetent blowhard, but if any president is suspected of anything illegal, I'd want an investigation. Trump isn't special in that regard. Funny world we live in these days where the checking and balancing that make our country what it is, is now an act of villainy. So if I were to be a Scooby Doo villain, my name would be Ombre Hombre and my agenda would be transparency, truth, and asking questions even when it's not popular to do so. Consider me unmasked. Here's my big dumb head sticking out of a monster suit. You know what they say about shoes fitting? It fits great.
 
photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

Original by Robert pin
photo: Joshua Franzos

nike air presto
photo: Joshua Franzos

ombre Chanel purse
photo: Joshua Franzos



What I Wore:
Ombre Coat: Barney's Original
T-shirt: Pixies band shirt, here.  
Pants: old Ann Taylor LOFT.
Sunnies: Sojos, here. Shoes: Nike Air Prestos (the best, most comfortable running shoes EVER), here.
Ombre Bag: Chanel.
Pin: Vintage Original by Robert enamel flower pin.



 


heart sunglasses, Meryl Franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

Your bosom friend in Pittsburgh, 














Bridge Freezes Before Road

Sunday, March 17, 2019

photo: Joshua Franzos

David Attenborough voice over: "Here we see a rare glimpse of Meryl in a wintry habitat. Extraordinary!"

photo: Joshua Franzos
Name: Meryl Franzos
Species: Homo Sapiens
Class: Mammalia
Natural Habitat (November - March): Light hibernator.Warmth seeking. Going to gym before sun is up, moling in a sunless cubicle between the hours of 8:45am-5pm, then leaving work after sun is down only to go home, put on thick raglan socks and sweatpants, and mummify self in a fleece lined blanket until she retires at 10pm.
Symbiotic relationships: sharing body heat with Canis Lupus Familiaris friends and pair-bonded male Homo Sapien mate.
Winter pelage: (December - March) rumpled oxfords under sweaters with cardigan toppers. Taut dress slacks with long underwear lumps underneath. Dismal, unimaginative, and utilitarian weatherproof boots. Hats that make her look like a homeless. Suspendered snowboard pants have also been sighted as appropriate all day office attire. 
Pelage once external thermometers reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit: More artfully pulled together outfits but still drab looking gray layers of woolen and pleathery textures. 
Late spring/summer pelage: More observation needed once temperatures soar past 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Please check back for future developments. Perhaps something more colorful or even a patch of bare skin will emerge. 

photo; Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos


Cold, inclement weather was always a perfect excuse to stay inside and get a lot of writing done, but the universe conspires against my plans more often than I'd like. This winter has thrown a lot of curve balls my way, in fact, I kinda feel like the last person standing in a dodge ball game. The red rubber ball stressors, big and small, are raining hellfire on me all at once. The small rubber balls that I can talk about: ASOS can't seem to find one of my returns worth hundreds of dollars and they don't seem keen on believing me, great. A week and half ago, I was rear-ended while I was stopped at a traffic light. Sure property damage sucks, but I'm mostly mad about the bureaucratic insurance processes I was volunteered to babysit. My workload has been unrelenting since October...Tax season is here...We're still walking on eggshells with Meatball... But wait, there are BIG rubber balls too. My workplace moved at the end of December, just one mile farther away. I've kept an open mind, but after two months there is no denying that my new commute is eating into my mid-day writing time in a big, big, bad way. It is agonizing to be this far a long on my novel and incapable of moving faster than a glacier. Actually scratch that, I think glaciers are actually melting faster than I can edit at this point. My back problems have re-emerged, sending me to twice a week doctor's and physical therapy appointments. Physical therapy rehabilitation has replaced my intense daily BBG and cardio workouts, putting my fitness and weight loss goals on hold too. I get up earlier and earlier so I can hopefully walk on the treadmill enough that I don't gain all the weight back that I've lost over the last 12 weeks (it's still creeping back). In short, I'm just annoyed. Annoyed to be slipping backwards physically, annoyed at my lack of progress on my edit, and if a booger inside your nose is making a weird whistling noise everytime you breathe, I'm probably super annoyed at you too. Franz Kafka once said, "a non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity." So, think about that, but subtract two major outlets for stress relief, ruin my car, and liberally sprinkle in some annoying stuff like baco bits and... you get me. (show of jazz hands)  So even though it's above 40F degrees, and there isn't any snow on the roads, my bridge is frozen. I have to proceed, not full speed ahead, but gingerly, gingerly. (Meryl doesn't do gingerly.) Meryl wants to burn that icy bridge down.


Olivia Harris bag, stapled studded bag
photo: Joshua Franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos
I'm talking figuratively, of course. Having burnt a few figurative bridges in my time, makes me extra aware of the corner I could paint myself into (oooh mixing metaphors) if I continue to limit my paths of ingress and egress. But burning bridges is also a defiant act, a giant middle finger to whatever. Sometimes that is exactly what's needed. Sometimes you do need to stop someone from hurting you with an ultimatum that could end that relationship. And sometimes (probably more often than not), you're just hot under the collar and it's just a rash something you do when you feel stuck in your circumstances. I feel stuck on this icy bridge alright. My physical therapist has me doing "supine bridges" at least twelve minutes a day, but preferably 24, ironically my PT exercises are on this physical therapy app called, wait for it, "MedBRIDGE." So yeah, I have bridges on the mind and a lot of time to contemplate all the stuff I want to do but can't while I repeatedly thrust my hips at the ceiling and repeat Dylan McKay's quote like an caustic yoga mantra, "Let the bridges you burn light the way."

"Let." HIP THRUST. "The." HIP THRUST. "Bridges." HIP THRUST. "You." HIP THRUST. "Burn." HIP THRUST. "Light." HIP THRUST. "The." HIP THRUST. "Way." DOUBLE HIP THRUST.


photo: Joshua Franzos

Maybe that's my problem. I'm focusing on destruction. I don't think we often consider how difficult it literally is to burn a bridge though, and since most wooden bridges are going the way of the Dodo, bridges don't actually burn anymore. You gotta blow them up and it actually takes a lot of planning and teamwork. Ever watch the movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai"? I know you haven't. Don't lie. Here's the best scene out of the whole movie, here. We also have a bunch of bridges in Pittsburgh, many of which are crumbling pieces of infrastructure like the Greenfield bridge which was destroyed in 2015. It takes a lot of effort to destroy a bridge, but even more work and effort to rebuild one, as evidenced by the Greenfield Bridge which only re-opened in 2017, just shy of two years later. 

I meant to write about how my late winter outfits tend to take on Jedi like properties, cuz I wear all the grays and layer like a mofo, but the honest truth is I just haven't been feeling much like a jedi master lately. I feel like the dark side of the force is trying to break me. If you hear that I've gone to jail because I defenestrated someone whose nose was whistling, then you'll know the dark side has won. It's a constant battle to be a good person, but it helps knowing that fires from big explosions die out quickly and leave a big mess. I don't have time for it. I have promises to keep and many miles to go before I sleep. I think I'll some how harness my explosive energy and keep a small and controllable slow burn going in my soul. Afterall, as Stephen King so aptly put it, "Life is not a support system for art, it's the other way around."


photo: Joshua Franzos


What I Wore:
Scarf: vintage, obtained from NCJW's Designer Days.
Bag: vintage Olivia Harris staple stud bucket bag, obtained from NCJW's Designer Days. 
hooded sweater duster: past season H&M
sweater tunic: past season H&M
pleather moto pants: past season H&M
ankle boots: past season Dolce Vita.


photo: Joshua Franzos





Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh, 














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 vain 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, 
















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