Return from the Upside Down

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illustration of the Upside Down from Stranger Things

Well, after a year (and some change)-long hiatus from my blog, I have returned from the Upside Down…..or at least it feels like I went to another place.

If you’ve watched Stranger Things, you’ll know where I’ve been. A parallel universe but a much darker version of the real one. Even though I didn’t go to a “dark place,” per se, I did go somewhere for a while. But the power of writing found me again.

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movie poster from Stranger Things

Well, I guess I could go into my lecture of apologies for being a bad blogger but I’ll skip that and just give the excuses. Why did I go AWOL? Well, life, I guess. 2015 was the year of photography and I devoted A LOT of my time to it. I poured myself into learning everything I could about it. Reading books, reading online material, practicing, practicing, practicing, and enrolling in an online school. You can tell this was becoming the year of photography as most of my last few blogs were showcasing photo shoots. This was before I established a website for my photography work. My Instagram (aptly named the same as my blog) became less about promoting my blog and more just a personal one and my Facebook page was seeing tumble weeds blow by. Besides photography, I was also pouring myself into  other ventures such as Nashville Wine on the Rails and then this year opened up an Etsy shop, Red Velvet Cake Vintage. Which I needed to open an Etsy shop like I needed another hole in my head but I (gasp!) have too much vintage and need to pass it on to other homes. I also am a board member for Historic Nashville, Inc. and I support my husband with his career with Muddy Roots Music which includes many, many layers itself and too many to list. To say I have a lot on my plate is an understatement. But hey, get busy living or get busy dying.

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movie still & quote from Shawshank Redemption

So in short, my blog got put on the back burner. About a month or so ago I started missing it. It was calling me back. I missed writing, I missed documenting my experiences in life, and I missed being curious and exploring. That was the initial purpose to start this blog. To document my curiosities and explorations. I am the Indiana Jones of Curiosity, always wanting to find that treasure that is out there, with the purpose of putting it in a museum (my blog), of course. 🙂 Plus, when blogging about your experiences, it’s a good excuse to travel and explore. You have to have content for your blog! I also always feel a touch of melancholy when I visit other people’s blogs and it’s been months or years since their last post. Why did they abandon ship?

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movie still from Indiana Jones & the Raiders of the Lost Ark

While we all can agree 2016 has been the year of death. The death of David Bowie, Prince, and so many other public figures. And don’t even get me started on the election. Putting aside the activity going on in the world, 2016 has been a year I’ve been questioning my mind, body, and spirit. I’ve always practice some kind of “reset button” on myself throughout my life. I love change; I welcome it. But change doesn’t have to be anything drastic; it can be something very small. So what I mean by mind, body, and spirit is how I’m treating those areas and paying attention to what is influencing them. It’s been more about collecting data this year so I can analyze the problem. Why do I feel this way? What am I allowing? What brought me here? Questions going on and on. Part of my analysis has included what has brought me happiness.

So reflecting on that I came to the conclusion of what made me happy: the great outdoors, traveling, writing, photography. There are other things but these were the core. So was I moving towards these or was I moving away from them? Another factor was something I didn’t mention above; my job. Yep, the one thing I don’t talk about often because it’s what pays and fuels for a lot of the things above. I wish I could say I was a full-time blogger or photographer and was rolling in six-figures but that’s most definitely not the truth. And it quite possibly never will be and that’s totally fine! It’s not about the fortune & glory. My job was robbing me of happiness and for a few reasons I won’t go into great detail. I made a great salary but I felt mentally and physically drained 40+hour a week after 40+hour a week. I also had a toxic co-worker and I quickly realized that would never go away unless I did. So I did. I made a career change within my place of employment and took a huge pay cut. I had a lot of support from my husband and my mom. It’s funny how when you do something drastic people start coming forward with their experiences too. A few people truly understood why I was doing it while some thought it was dumb to walk away from my salary. One person even gave me a nice card with a nice message and told me I was brave for making this choice. For those that understood, they all said the same thing: the stress is not worth the money. And folks, I am living proof that it sure as hell isn’t. So I abandoned the familiar and all the expertise I gained for almost seven years, walked away from my salary, and hit the reset button on my job. Almost four weeks in and I’ve realized it was the best decision I have made in a career so far.

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movie still from Heathers

So now that I’ve really made myself super vulnerable by exposing something that was making me uphappy, let me focus back on my blog. Like I said earlier, I just really, really started to miss it. Why did I not devote some time to it? What was I doing with my time? Well, wasting it for one thing. One big culprit: social media. Which is a double edge sword because this is the digital age and sooooo many people use social media to promote themselves or their business. Me being that majority. But was I using my time wisely with it or mindlessly scrolling like a Walking Dead zombie fiending off the unimportant news. I will say, is it nice to just zone out and scroll every now and then? Yep. But it shouldn’t be something you spend several hours a day doing. Exhibit A: this morning. This morning I spent almost an hour on social media as soon as I woke up, in bed, scrolling through the abyss called Facebook and Instagram. Again, don’t misunderstand that I do not like social media, just not the zombie, life-sucking version of it. Otherwise it’s a great place to connect with people and get yourself or your brand out there.

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illustration by Steve Cutts

And lastly because this blog post turned out to be waaay longer than I intended, I’ve got to reset and get back to writing. Even if it’s in the blog-form. Exhibit B: my diaries and journals throughout my life. Writing is one of my therapies and I think we all need to find something that is. Whatever that is. Below are my diaries/journals I’ve kept over the years. Feel free to laugh at the decor ;). The only one missing is my first one I started in about 3rd grade. It’s around somewhere just wasn’t with it’s mates. These journals span from middle school to post-college and have been through countless moves. Every once in a blue moon I read a few entries and it’s a good way to compare my life now and then. It’s also a good way to learn about yourself and also how to move towards happiness. I’ve captured a lot about myself over the years and it’s all here in these pages. But not like you young whipper-snappers, us Gen-Xers had to “blog” the old-fashioned way, with ye ole pen & paper.

So now that I’ve found my way out of the Upside Down, I hope I can stay on track with this. In the meantime, I ask you to ask yourself what makes you happy and are you doing that?

Until next blog post,
~Katie

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Wanted: Old West Enthusiasts

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Grab your saddle and trusty horse pod’ners and get ready to discover the Old West. I’m not talking about visiting a museum either. I’m talking about the fully-operational Pioneertown in Southern California.

Yes, you read correctly, Pioneertown. The place where all your Western dreams come true. If you’re a fan of the Old West films and television shows, this unincorporated community village is your slice of heaven. Nestled in the high desert in the Morongo Basin region of Southern California, Pioneertown came to fruition in 1946.

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The town’s purpose (other than being so totally cool) started in the 1940s and it was to serve as a live-in Old  West motion picture set to the Hollywood stars. Makes sense, considering Los Angeles is only a couple of hours away and the surrounding land is perfect for a western film set. The entire set was designed to look just like an 1800s western town but with live-in capabilities to accommodate the stars while they filmed. Many films were shot here during the 1940s and 1950s. Roy Rogers and Gene Autry are among the famous that were responsible for this Old West Town. Roy Rogers was one of the original investors of Pioneertown.

As you walk down the “main street,” you completely get the feel of a western town. Complete with saloon, bathhouse, undertaker business and livery, just a name a few of the buildings. You’ll be humming the Marty Robbins tune, “El Paso” as your spurs kick up the dirt underneath your feet.

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If you get the chance to visit this place, don’t feel like you’re too far off the beaten path if you need to rest your weary bones. On the property there is the Pioneertown Motel that will give you a place to rest your head. You won’t be sleeping in a tent either. This small yet charming western motel offers rooms with a bed, bathroom, kitchen sink, and microwave to travelers. However, I must heed a warning: be ready to live up to Pioneertown’s way of life. You’ve heard of no shirt, no shoes, no service. Well, be ready for no t.v., no radio, no service, as in internet service. My husband and I did have the pleasure of staying here and I must say, it was quite refreshing to unplug for a while. So if you’re okay to forgo the electronic entertainment we’re all use to, bunker down for a night’s stay in this unique place. Just make sure you bring a book or companion to keep you company. And just remember, you’ll be “sleeping” with the stars as this is where they lived and worked.

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Don’t be imagining you’ll be counting tumbleweeds blowing by as your only source of entertainment. On the property is a live music venue called Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. And if you’re hungry, they’ve got you covered with their full menu. The venue has changed hands a few times since it’s inception in 1972. But the current owners have kept the 1982 owners’ names on the bill and have brought in musicians such as Robert Plant and Vampire Weekend.

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One cool fact among many about Pioneertown is the bowling alley on  the property. I mean, the famous stars had to have activities while they worked, right? Apparently, the bowling alley is one of the oldest in continuous use in California.

So if you’re passing through these parts, I highly recommend  you take a gander at this western wonder. Be sure to soak up the entertainment, stay for a spell and imagine you’ve been transported back into the historic American Western frontier.

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Futuristic & Film Noir Forties Style Inspiration

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What does Indiana Jones & Rick Deckard have in common? Okay, I know you’re already saying, both are played by the same actor. Which is true. And also true, one of my favorite actors (just give me one second to stop blushing from all the Harrison Ford hotness). Also, both movies came out in the 1980s, with one coming out in my birth year (I’ll let you guess which one). So all of the above is true BUT not what I’m getting at. Both have two leading ladies in the films that I’m currently pining over their style.

Let me introduce you to Rachael, one of four replicants in the movie Blade Runner, and Dr. Elsa Schneider, Indy’s fellow artifact-finder turned Nazi-sympathizer in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I bet you weren’t expecting that. I’ve seen both these movies individually many times. Blade Runner is such a beautiful film and oddly enough, takes place in 2019 Los Angeles. Which is kind of strange considering we’re just a few years away from the year the movie takes place. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade takes place during the late 1930s, just as the Nazi regime was starting.

Interestingly, in both films, the leading female characters wear similar styles. However, taking place about 80 years apart. I’d like to think about the decade we are in now that we’ve evolved back to a 1940s film noir style. But, this is not necessarily reality. Although, I’m no stranger to not caring what the current trend is and just wearing what ever the hell I want. Blade Runner does futuristic well. I have always disliked films made in the 1960s, mostly 1970s and some in the 1980s that are set in the future or past. The reason is the costumes are never done well. The 1970s version of the Great Gatsby is a prime example for me. It still looks like the 1970s rather than the Jazz Age it’s suppose to represent. So when I initially watched Blade Runner many years ago, I had to give this film credit. Sure, some of the electronics are no where near what we have today. And the film does advertise Atari which has gone the way of the Buffalo. But overall, it does the early 21st century well.

Okay, now back to Rachael. Maybe I’m weird but I love her style in the movie. Except for that odd fur coat thing she wears when she saves Deckard from the not-so-cool replicant, Leon.

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Not only do I want that black suit she wears as Deckard plays “20 questions” with her to determine if she is a replicant or not, but I am also digging her sheik red lipstick and ode to the forties hair style.

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The black suit is my number one favorite but I’d rock the grey striped suit as well.

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rachael blade runner striped suit  blade_runner_rachel_piano

And I love the dialogue between Deckard & Rachael as he’s asking her questions and slowly figuring out her true existence.

Deckard:  You’re reading a magazine. You come across a full page of nude photos of a girl.
Rachael: Is this testing whether I’m a replicant or a lesbian, Mr. Deckard?
Deckard:  Just answer the questions please. You show it to your husband. He likes it so much he hangs it on your bedroom wall.
Rachael: I wouldn’t let him.
Deckard: Why not?
Rachael: I should be enough for him.
Now let’s move on to Dr. Elsa Schneider of the Indiana Jones claim to fame. With her business suits and dashing hats, she charms her way into Indy’s heart but later falls (literally) victim to Indy’s infamous slogan: “fortune and glory.” Such a shame because this girl had style.
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Even when they’re galloping across he desert, she doesn’t shy away from showing us she was fashion elite.
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Her style was so spot on, I forgive her, just a little, for betraying heartthrob Dr. Jones. There is a scene when Indy and Elsa are underneath the historic church turned library and making their way through rat-infested tombs and corridors. During one of the scenes you catch a glimpse of her shoes. And all I can think to myself is how many ladies would kill for those shoes today. They were the epitome of art deco footwear. And there she was, treading through sewage and petroleum-filled waters as I mourned over the loss of those bad-ass shoes.
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So there you have it, my current style obsession. Rachael and Elsa are the two leading ladies that have currently won my style-obsessed heart. Now excuse me while I master the perfect forties coiffure.

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