The Albatross In The Rabbit Hole

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Gonna leave this world for a while

/Tom Petty


Did you ever want to get inside the brain of someone suffering from mental health illness? Well, this is what it’s like inside my brain, or at least what it was like when I was at my lowest point. The sweet sounds of Petty in the background, perfectly romantic, in a situation that was far from serene. I had an albatross hanging around my neck; I needed a physical relief from this psychological labyrinth. A rabbit hole to leave this world for a while.

The danger of mental health illness is what you don’t see, the fact that perception is not always reality. The perception that I was this bright, beaming, beautiful being was all smoke in mirrors. As a matter of fact, I was more like the smoke, suffocating, dark, vacant. I spent so much time just waiting for the dust to settle, thinking I’ll start sleeping again soon, the thoughts will stop racing soon, the depression will lift soon…or more simply, I’ll get the desire to breathe again soon. But that time you can’t escape, you get swallowed alive, how do you rebound? Where do you go? For many, there’s only down the rabbit hole.

Cat Grenade photography

Cat Grenade photography

Why I Love Fashion: Marie Antoinette Ironic Opulence

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Fashion is power. Fashion is an equalizer. Fashion is the divisor. Fashion is a dichotomy. And in its irony, fashion is bipolar.


It’s Paris Fashion Week. The time when all eyes turn to the most stylish city in the world to see what the next season’s trends will entail. Who will excite us? Who will disappoint us? Who will confuse us? This. Is. Fashion. Today I had someone ask me, “Why do you love fashion?” and without skipping a beat I can give them a simple example that explains it all.

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. houses one of my favorite exhibits, the Geo Gallery. The Geo Gallery features incredible gems and jewels from the ages including the Hope Diamond, the Clagett Bracelet, and the DeYoung Pink Diamond. But there is one piece in particular that catches my attention and marie_antoinette_earringscaptures my love of fashion: two large pear-shaped diamond earrings belonging to none other than THE Marie Antoinette. Marie Antoinette, as you know, is one of history’s most prolific figures of opulence and grandeur. Her love of fashion and luxury led to her demise as she was guillotined in 1793 during the French Revolution.

Now, the normal person walks through the Geo Gallery and sees these gems and might miss these earrings all together as they are overshadowed by some of the more impressive pieces in the exhibit. And even if you do notice the earrings, well, they’re pretty, but they’re JUST earrings.

Wrong. They aren’t JUST earrings. They. Are. Fashion. Marie Antoinette wore these earrings…on her ears…on her head…and she was ultimately beheaded. Ironic. A bit humorous. This. Is. Fashion.

Fashion is ironic. Fashion is satire. Fashion is Beauty. I saw these earrings and immediately chuckled to myself and thought “wow, it is so incredible what these earrings represent.” Very literally these earrings caused a revolution. Opulence, grandeur. Fashion caused a revolution.

This is why I love fashion. Fashion is power. Fashion is an equalizer. Fashion is the divisor. Fashion is a dichotomy. And in its irony, fashion is bipolar. Even in the fact that there are two major fashion weeks, one in the spring/summer, one in the fall/winter, fashion is polarity. As someone who suffers from bipolar disorder, recognizing polarity in the things we love is comforting. In fashion, I find my fellow artists, my fellow dark comedians, my fellow outside the box thinkers, and my fellow satirists.

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As Long As It’s Low Carb…

The American Necessities: Ironies of stress spelled J-O-B-H-U-N-T.

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If you didn’t already know, the word stress can actually be spelled two ways. Yes, it would seem impossible, but there are in fact two ways to spell the exact same word. Stress can obviously be spelled s-t-r-e-s-s. OR.

J-O-B-H-U-N-T. Job Hunt.


There are certain “necessities” you need to survive as a modern American twenty-something…

You need to eat. And American society would tell you that it has to be 1. Organic. And 2. Found at Whole Foods. #foodshaming

You need to sleep. And American society would tell you that you also need to forgo sleep in order to work…because you need to work. Irony number 1. You need sleep to function and be successful, but you need to not sleep to succeed. #onthegrind#dearsocialmediapressure#goplayintraffic

Now for some of the fun new necessities, but arguably the most non-negotiable by American law. Because law doesn’t tell me I need to eat or need to sleep. However law does tell me…

You need to pay your student loans. And American society would tell you that you need to go to college, therefore you need a loan or two. Oh, and if you can’t pay them because you can’t find a job… that’s just not their problem. Irony number 2. You go to college to find a career, yet more and more college grads can’t find a job, ironic ain’t it?  Default on your student loans, you’re wayyy worse off than if you don’t eat or sleep. #creditscore#backgroundcheck

You need to have health insurance. And American society would tell you that by law you must have health insurance, but you need to be able to pay for it. OR you need to have a job with benefits, and even still, you need to be able to pay for it. Irony number 3. If you are lucky enough to eat and sleep, you can pray you won’t need to tap into the health insurance, but who cares…because you’ll still be paying for it. #livehealthy#payeitherway

J-O-B-H-U-N-T. Finding a job is very literally, a hunt. Irony number 4. I feel both the hunter and the prey. I am on the hunt, ravenous, and putting 100% into catching my prey and landing the job. However I am still the prey. America, with its over-priced necessary organic food and sleep-but-don’t-sleep attitude. America, with its student loans and college to get the job without the job outcome. America, with its mandatory health insurance job benefits or no job benefits. I feel, in a way, that I am America’s prey.

There is so much pressure to pursue the “American Dream” but finding the dream job in America, or any job for that matter, can be the stressor of your life. Believe me when I say, the only thing more stressful than having a job, is not having one.

A Letter to America,

Pursuit of the American dream. America, you are the beautiful, the free, the great, the pride. And while I love you, America, you are my S-T-R-E-S-S. America, I am working within your system, under your constraints, with your “necessities,” throw me a bone here. The J-O-B-H-U-N-T sucks. I want to be able to brag about “living the American Dream” and all I want is to work, to get there, to be “on the grind.” And while some of my critics will say I need to just “make it happen,” well trust me, I am doing everything in my power to do so. I have returned to the workforce since my departure due to health issues, but it isn’t full-time (no hours to give) the pay won’t cover my student loans and it doesn’t have heath insurance benefits. I am giving it everything I got, even trying to go back to school to further my education to get that “American Dream job.” Application (FIT) after application (UF MAMC) after application (USC Communications), pull through for me. I am going out there to get my American Dream, I am on the hunt. America, don’t make me your prey.

La Civetta. Italian Holiday Design: My mission in life is to get back to Italy and show the world a heart filled with la dolce vita.

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“You may have the universe if I may have Italy”
/Giuseppe Verdi


Just a fun update! I recently started a free travel site for people looking for advice about2048 planning a trip to Italy!


La Civetta. Italian Holiday Design

http://lpetrik2.wix.com/lacivettatravel

In case you weren’t aware I LOVE Italy. More than fashion, more than the study of the world, more than my DOGS!, I love italy. In order to really know me, you must know me in Italy. You must see me walking the streets with an espresso and a turkish silver. There is no love in this world like the love of Italy.

Because I am constantly learning and researching Italy I decided to offer up my knowledge to anyone looking for insight for an upcoming trip. If you or someone you Sunset-over-Lavender-fields-in-Tuscany-Wallpaperknow is looking for information on where to visit, what to eat, how to get off the beaten path, how to travel, anything!…please look to my new website to send questions, ask advice, or even find a guide! I will be doing quick updates and cultural notes everyday in a blog. A simple “did you know” piece with fun facts from food to art history to cinema. I will be purchasing a domain and then you will be able to find me on google in no time! Please check it out and spread the love to anyone wanting to share my passion for Italia! My mission in life is to get back to Italy and show the world a heart filled with la dolce vita. 

Grammy Fashion: Best Couture Kim K vs. Worst Couture Rihanna. Am I in the twilight zone?

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Am I in the twilight zone? E news ranked RiRi as WORST dressed

but yet had no problem with Kim? WHAT?!


The Grammys were a slew of amazing fashion, and in a very unique case, even the train wrecks were fashion-forward (of course it is the Grammys, there are always a few exceptions). So I am not going to go too far into the best and worst dressed, but I will offer the two most-talked about gowns…you guessed it, Kim K and Rihanna.

Am I in the twilight zone? E news ranked RiRi as WORST dressed but yet had no kim-kardashian-jean-paul-gaultier-gold-dress-grammys-2015-h724problem with Kim? WHAT?!

I get it. Kim is going super fashion. Check out her love magazine shoot if you need a prime example. And yes, the Gaultier was couture and looked really special, but it wasn’t for kim. She has an amazing body, she is a stunnnningly beautiful woman, but this was too much. It just wasn’t flattering on her frame. The shoulder pads made her look too broad and the embellishment seemed to draw the eye to awkward places. Again, it is an amazing piece, but in a rare case, the gown wore kim, kim did NOT wear the gown.



rihanna-pink-giambattista-valli-dress-grammys-2015-h724On the other hand we have Rihanna. RiRi was perfection. Grammy fashion at its best. It was completely over the top as Valli can be, but it was couture. You will never forget this over-sized cupcake that took up three seats all by itself. But nonetheless, epic  Grammy moment. The fact that she has been on worst dressed lists is baffling to me. While the couture wore Kim, RiRi wore Valli. A gown that size did not seem to overwhelm the super star. Rihanna delivered an unexpected, historical fashion moment.

We fit-shame, skinny-shame, rich-shame, poor-shame, race-shame, slut-shame, food-shame, fashion-shame. We do A LOT of shaming:In 2015, if you don’t have anything nice to say…just try not to be an asshole.

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What do each of these images have in common? …. #x-shaming.


We are in an era of shaming. Whether its selfie-shaming, fat-shaming, or tattoo-shaming, we as a culture are constantly shaming. Each of the individuals above has dealt with aplenty of shaming on their route to success.

Yesterday Kim K. posted this incredibly scandalous Kim-Kardashian-Wearing-Fur-Bikini-Picturespicture in a faux?-fur bikini, inciting outcry from all arenas of social media. Whether people were fur-shaming her (are we even sure if it was in fact real fur?), digital-altering-shaming (did she even filter the image?), or just shaming for having no shame, Kim K. is subjected to unrelenting shaming scrutiny.

Then there is Whitney Thore, star of the new TLC show “My Big Fat Fabulous Life.” Thore speaks openly about being fat-shamed. Thore was made famous after a YouTube video of her dancing went viral. Many people encouraged Thore’s love of dance and called her openness an inspiration, while many others whitney-way-thore-a-fat-girl-can-dancepoisoned her positivity with harsh comments and hurtful judgements. What most of those haters don’t know is that Thore suffers from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which causes her to very easily put on weight. According to Thore, there is never an equilibrium, if she is not actively losing weight, she is gaining it. While Thore acknowledges she does need to get healthy, she under the unceasing social stigma levied against an overweight American woman. In the last episode someone even called her “shamu” from their car…that person is a coward and should be ashamed.

Finally there is Dr. Matt Taylor, one of the scientists responsible for landing the Philae lander of the spacecraft Rosetta on a comet last November. The Rosetta mission was Dr. Matt Taylorthe first spacecraft to land on a comet nucleus (whatever that means, basically huge space-deal). Dr. Taylor, the project scientist on said mission, was tattoo-shamed for his full sleeves. For years we have heard people with tattoos won’t get hired or ever have a “real” job, I guess he proved them wrong in a BIG way. Dr. Taylor was later shirt-shamed for wearing an “offensive” button-up of a scantily-clad woman, which apparently is grounds for #permna-shame.

Since the onset of social media shaming has taken to all new heights. We shame everyone from celebrities to our peers to our parents. We fit-shame, skinny-shame, rich-shame, poor-shame, race-shame, slut-shame, food-shame, fashion-shame. We do A LOT of shaming. It seems as though you can’t win anymore. You are either too skinny or too fat. Too fit or too lazy. Too passionate or too ambivalent. Too provocative or too uptight.

All we do is shame, and this shaming is so damaging. I am literally scared to post a picture to Instagram or a post to my blog for the worry of being shamed. The shamers are much more willing to say something negative than consider taking a productive point of view. Its one thing if we are shaming celebrities, they are in the public eye; unfortunately it comes with the territory. But shaming our friends? Shaming the normal person? Let people live.

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I MAJORLY plastic surgery-shamed Kylie Jenner and her lips but honestly she looks gorgeous real or fake.

However, I too am guilty of shaming, mostly out of envy. I believe jealousy is at the core of a lot of shaming, whether we want to admit it or not. I fit-shame the people I can’t look like. I blonde-shame the blondes because well, they are beautiful. I plastic surgery-shame because I wish I could have those lips or that ass. The moral of the story is that I really just need to get a life…and some confidence. I need to put more effort into bettering myself, and less effort into bringing down others.

In other words, if you don’t have anything nice to say…just try not to be an asshole. In 2015 take a serious look at social media, and think before you #hashtag. Social media has made the world so much more accessible, but it has also made the world a much scarier place. As we express our freedoms of speech we find ourselves shamed for that expression. We need to take a lesson from Kim K., Whitney Thore, and Dr. Taylor, tell the haters to take a long walk off a short pier, success comes to those who are true to themselves, or at the very least, their brand. Shamers gonna shame, keep calm, and post on.

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The Faroe Islands, “52 Places to Go in 2015” : nosh on puffins, the bird, not the cereal.

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For many of us, myself included, food and travel are kindred spirits. To travel, to know a different culture and a unique experience, one must eat their food.


There has been a lot of hype over the Jan. 9 release of The New York Times “52 Places to Go in 2015.” I must be having some sort of destination-karma with the Times travel department as I have an interesting relationship with so many of the cities on this list. 52 Places to Go is filled with very exciting, some obvious, some not-so-obvious, special destinations. Let’s start with some of my favorites on the list, 1. Milan and 48. Rome. I am Italian-American and love Italy with my whole being, after living there you will photo2never want to leave. Everyone should go and stay for at least two weeks, just to get to know La Dolce Vita. Milan is incredible and the Duomo is architectural artistry. With that said I would have inverted Milan and Rome, because Rome may in fact be the greatest city in all of Italy, I mean Campo dei Fiori, hello? And don’t get me started on the via Appia right outside Rome, I have never had better food in.my.life…say it with me, seppia-ink pasta.

Next there was 3. Philadelphia. I am from south Jersey, so Philadelphia is basically my home town (and no not Pats or Genos, go to Tony Luke’s for an epic cheesesteak).  And 21. Cleveland, Ohio, both my parents and almost my entire family are either from Cleveland or still living there. Cleveland is made up of quality mid-western people with immigrant roots. In other words Cleveland is a great place to go for an Italian market or Jewish deli.

At 45. Miami, the town my college roommate called home, and at 2. Cuba, the country her family called home. Best plantains I have ever tasted! I loved when Mrs. Pardo sent us homemade Cuban food.


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BUT here is the one that gets me, 9. Faroe Islands. Most of you probably don’t follow FaroeIslands (4)me on Instagram as I really just use it for fashion, but if you’re interested go ahead and find me: thelaur88. Anyway, I had posted a couple pictures of the Faroe Islands just the other day before reading the Times list. I was thrilled to see these islands I was not alone in lusting to see these distant little diamonds in the heart of the sea. The Faroe Islands are a pretty small autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, an extreme foil to the #2 hot and sunny Cuba. They are remote, cool if not cold, windy, and cloudy. Despite the gloomy weather, they have an incredible beauty all 164_07ca6709-0dcc-4925-b5d9-dcea29dd9ce0their own. The cliché sight of sheep on the mountain top could not be any more accurate. A plain cottage in the middle of a field of green. Then there is Ólavsøka, the annual celebration of Saint Olaf. OLAF, I mean could they be any more Scandinavian, or Disney for that matter. But my fascination with the Faroe Islands moves far beyond the aesthetic appeal and rich Nordic culture.

I am a foodie and the current hot spot for international cuisine is Scandinavia. In fact, the 1. Ranking restaurant in the world as ranked by the renowned “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” is Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. Four other Scandinavian Koks restaurant, Faroe Islandsrestaurants ended up in the top 50, making me wonder, what have I been missing all these years? Times writer David Shaftel wrote the piece on the Faroe Islands which only made the island seem a bit more tantalizing. “The Faroe Islands, an archipelago in the North Atlantic, has emerged in the last five years as possibly the most secluded destination for avant-garde food.” WARNING: you will not go to the Faroe Islands and be noshing on pasta and meatballs or a food truck gyro (I mean I am sure there are some, but that isn’t what all the hype is about.) Faroese ingredients include dried mutton (in fact dried everything), whale blubber, puffins, and the occasional fish and chips. With that said, what you will eat in the Faroe Islands will awaken your faroe-1254palette and challenge your taste buds. Koks, the restaurant featured in the Times piece is at the forefront of new Nordic cuisine. Taken from Koks website Its cuisine is earthy and refined, ancient and modern. Instead of the new, it emphasizes the old (drying, fermenting, pickling, curing, smoking) and seeks to return to Earth’s own ecological balance. At Koks the cuisine is about seasonality, seriously engaging with agriculture and history, and making age-old food delightful to modern palates.” (“Press Release New Menus.” Www.koks.fu. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.)

d123ab4486ac607c9ff85b1ba3afa423Perhaps not for the faint of heart, but most certainly for the food-wanderer in us all. Faroe Islands 2015, come with an open mind and an empty belly.

Whose are these? : I found the question to be rather ironic…If we could answer this quite elementary question we could solve many of the world’s most pressing political issues, as well as the irrelevant ones.

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“Whose are these?” A very simple question with a seemingly simple answer…or a very sobering question with a millennia-old answer that we just can’t seem to find?


Two weeks ago I was at Walt Disney World of all places when I heard the most interesting question, “Whose are these?” On New Year’s Eve there were long lines DSC085382everywhere you looked, but perhaps none was as long as the line for champagne in the French pavilion of Epcot Center. As my mom and I stood waiting for our two glasses of Moet rosé, the bartending-cast member poured a couple of glasses of champagne and posed the question “Whose are these?” to her fellow bartender.

Now to most people the question “Whose are these?” would probably seem pretty straight-forward: who ordered these two glasses of champagne?

But that isn’t how I heard it. I found the question to be rather ironic. “Whose are these?” If we could answer this quite elementary question we could solve many of the world’s most pressing political issues, as well as the irrelevant ones.

From a day to day perspective think about how many times you may use the expression “Whose are these?” You find car keys at a party, Whose are these? You need to know the designer of that awesome pair of pumps, Whose are these? You find earrings that aren’t yours at your boyfriend’s place, Whose are these?

Those were the simple questions.

But how about those issues at the crux of international disputes and violence? Holy gazaLands in the Gaza Strip, Whose are these? For centuries Israel and Palestine have literally raised hell over trying to answer that seemingly simple question.

How about employment. The question “Whose are these” in reference to jobs. Who gets which job, who is entitled to that job, is it ours or should it be outsourced abroad, Whose are these? Are these goods American-made or are they foreign? Whose are these? … and taking that issue to the next level. Immigration. Where are these immigrants coming from and which country are they escaping, Whose are these? Depending on their home country, should they be allowed to seek asylum or is this grounds for deportation, Whose are these?

Finally, how about gun control, keeping the guns in the hands of those with whom they belong. “Whose are these?” Who owns these guns, were they his, or did they belong to his mother? Were they licensed? Should she have had them? How did he get them? Could this tragedy have been prevented? Will future attacks be prevented if we don’t need to ask “Whose are these?”

Next time you hear a “simple question” consider that it may not have a simple answer.

“Je suis Charlie” and I am Golden: Tonight the stars from around the Globe aligned because they have the right to speech, and the right to assemble.

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The Golden Globes. A pretty damn good indication of who will be the cinematic stars of the season…also…who will be the fashion darlings of the season. Let us remember that INCREDIBLE Lupita-Ralph Lauren red cape and gown moment from 2014, the Globes were the spot we truly fell in love with Lupita and turned her into a superstar. As for this year I unfortunately haven’t yet seen anything quite as impactful as the Red Cape, but do not fear, we still have some quality fashion here.

I cannot in any way confirm this to be true, but the fashion seems to be a bit reserved, which may or may not have something to do with the recent terror attacks in France. Some stars were spotted carrying “Je suis Charlie” signs. For anyone who wonders why an international affairs student loves fashion… this is why. Fashion is self-expression, a right we are granted through our freedoms and our liberties. Fashion matters. Fashion is a proponent of international affairs, and a product of it’s spoils. Tonight the stars from around the Globe aligned because they have the right to speech, and the right to assemble.

Here are how some of the stars expressed their rights, for the good and the bad…

*Best Dressed*

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Diane Kruger in Emilia Wickstead

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Julianna Moore in custom Givenchy

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Emma Stone in Lanvin

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Amy Adams in Versace

Julia Goldani Telles in TBD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Accessory 

Naomi Watts  Bulgari Serpent Necklace

Naomi Watts
Bulgari Serpent Necklace

Best Couple

Amal in Haute Couture Dior

Amal in Haute Couture Dior George in his wedding tux custom Armani

The Hot Trends

All White Everything

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And then there was I AM NOT QUITE WHITE

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I Sparkle and Shine

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We are SOOOO ready for Valentine’s Day

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We gave the stylists the night off…

And now for my worst dressed. There is one very specific candidate I am leaving off the list because I need to do more research into whether this was a message or not. But the rest of these, ya, I hate them. Maybe I needed to see Ms. Washington in person to get it?

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Lana del Rey in TBD

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Lena Dunham in Zac Posen

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Keira Knightley in Chanel

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Katie Cassidy in TBD

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Kerry Washington in Mary Katrantzou

I did not include all names and designers because there were so many and I wanted to get this out there. Make it into a fun game, and see if you can dress what they are in? Cheers!