February 2010

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

~ Parliament of Foules, Chaucer


On this ever-popular day of “love,” it’s nice to remember that there was a real person behind all the hearts and flowers: St. Valentine. 

My mom always told me that Valentine was arrested by the Romans, and sentenced to be thrown to the lions. While he was in jail, he wanted to get a message out to his people, but all he could get was a piece of something to write on, without anything to write with. So he cut his hand and let some of the blood fall onto the paper, which he folded in two, and when he unfolded the paper he revealed the shape of a heart, which was the first Valentine ever sent.

There are several versions of this infamous story, but who was St. Valentine, really?

According to history.com, one legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. (What a jerk, no?)

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured. (ek, I’m studying Latin now, but this makes the Romans look like…not nice people)

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It’s no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial — which probably occurred around 270 A.D — others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to ‘christianize’ celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

So, overall, there were likely three different possible St. Valentines, all matyrs, which, to some people, probably seems like a good match for the holiday. Then there’s the festival connection, to pairing birds and such (hence the Chaucer quote). But whether you have someone to hang out with today or not, and remember you can always hang out with yourself, I hope you enjoy this lovely, sunny day! (Plus, you can always use today as an excuse to eat excessive amounts of chocolate. Yum)


P.S. even though Valentine’s day is one of the worst reviewed movies that I’ve seen in awhile (something like 15% on Rottentomatoes.com) is it wrong that I still kind of want to see it? If I like it though, what does that make me?….


For all the fabulous finds out there, there are many items of strangeness. Take, for example, the following:

Shoe designers spend all day thinking about how to design shoes which for all occasions and aspects of life. Now, I can only image what the design-pitch for this was. Euophony

“Ok guys,  now imaging you are a young, modern woman just graduating from clown college, venturing out on her own. Now what are you going to wear during a night out on the town? Not those big, clunky (oversized) work shoes – no, this woman needs something better. Sexy but still with a hint of the big-top circus.”

I don’t know what would look decent with this, and maybe I don’t want to know. My worry is that someone might try to match this shoe to something patterned in the same colors. The design itself is not bad, but the color, oh the color.


Yes, Anne Klein, I’m looking at you.

And I know you can make cute, sexy shoes! I even support you, as I just bought these in black patent; they’ll be perfect for Valentine’s Day night-out. (The little pendant on the front has a lion. Rawr.)

[P.S. Having bought a pair of platform heels, I’m now relived from my previous-post’s fashion crisis. And I did happen to come across a pair of shoes that were knock-offs of the aforementioned Pradas, and they were not so good. Sigh]

The ironic thing is that the higher up in fashion (price and designer-wise) you get, the weirder things are – witness Lady Gaga, a (pant-less) clothes-horse who loves the oddity. But when you see strange things in regular ready-to-wear, I wonder how many people out there like it enough to, you know, wear it.



(I know what you must be thinking; Why the umbrella?)

[Fashion Binge.]

The worst part about having a shopping addiction problem is when the items you want have a legitimate place in your wardrobe.

A couple weeks ago the boyfriend and I went out to a lovely Italian restaurant in SF (the Magic Flute, which was supremely awesome, I do recommend it) and I was faced with the fact that my “going” out wardrobe needs updating, or expanding. I’ve been so busy with my work-looks (i.e. looking just-so while hopefully expanding the minds of college freshmen) that I forgot all about the equally important night-look! Granted, I usually spend Saturday nights watching Criminal Minds and eating soy ice-cream due to the “convenient” schedule of said boyfriend, who works as a residential youth counselor, but still! Add to that the fact that I recently dropped several dress-sizes, which means that basically most of my clothes are a bit bigger on me, which for going-out is not so good.

A girl needs options!

But when such options are not used every day, there’s no point in over-spending, and I if anything a smart shopper (except I will never embrace my mother’s adage that you can save 100% off an item if you don’t buy it at all – no fun). I was quite happy to snag a deal on this shirt, with silver-white beading instead of grey. Just loose enough to balance a super-tightly dressed lower half. ($19.99 marked down from $88 – it’s like a drug!) Quotation: Matty M Jersey Tank with Beaded Neckline

(Maybe you see where I’m going…) This isn’t the exact skirt, but similar…and so cute! It actually unzips though, which means I have to wear the zipper on the front, otherwise bad things could…happen.

Jack BB Dakota-The Shanae Skirt in Black

I also tried on  several spectacular-looking shoes, but ultimately chickened out – you see, I’ve had mixed opinions about the “latest” shoes, the ones that are sky high with hidden platforms and insane strappiness. You’ve seen the like, I’m sure. (Still can’t get on board with the whole “caged-in” look)GraysonThey just seem impractical, and too extreme. But things are changing, and now I am in need. Maybe Lady Gaga is sneaking in somewhere. Tried on a pair of black-patent Nine West (not expensive, a plus) sandals with a platform and what must be 5 inch heels, at least, and I was surprised at how comfortable they were, due to the platform, I’m sure.

Nine West Women's Elkie Platform Sandal

But these seem a bit better to me, more wearable (though the pair I tried on had a different ankle strap, this one seems less flattering). The only problem with heels this high, even though they’e do-able (ha, ha ha) you have to walk different, and I’m a fast-walker by nature, not used to being slowed down by anything over 4 inches. Nine West Hambert

So I think I might be able to rock this pair in “real life” more easily – plus, they’re blue! I don’t have any blue shoes…..yet……

But then again, don’t these look practical to you? Basic black, un-adorned, simple? Perfect for any occasion and season? Yes? Really?

(Did I mention they were Prada? Does that change your answer?)

Now let me ask you, is is wrong to spend an entire month of graduate student-teacher’s salary on a pair of Prada platform crisscross sandals that may or may not be in next season?

[Yes. Dammit.]

I’m putting the word out there, fashion gods. Send me the perfect pair of platform sandals – oh, and if they could be on sale and versatile, that would be great.

Because sometimes a grad student needs to put down the books, and go out. In the perfect pair of shoes. How else can we change the image of people who read too many books?