The Blog Days of Summer, Post II: New Roots in Chestnut Hill

A month ago, I relocated to a new-to-me Philadelphia neighborhood called Chestnut Hill. It’s in the Northwest corner of the city. As most of you are probably aware, Philly is rather large — both geographically and demographically. The neighborhood where I live, while still technically Philadelphia, is actually 9 miles from Center City. Normally, being so far away from the action would bother me, a self-professed city girl. However, I’ve liked Chestnut Hill since my first visit there nearly three years ago. Not only does it have a lot of charm, but it’s close to the woods and has its own downtown district within walking distance of my new place. Here, one can find cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, clothing boutiques, and galleries. Really, the only thing missing so far as I can tell is a movie theater.

Another perk is that Chestnut Hill is an easy commute to and from work for me. In my spare time, there is plenty of green space in the ‘hood for my dog to run and play, and parking never seems to be an issue. Would I like to someday feel the energy of the city again on a daily basis? Sure! But for now, Chestnut Hill seems perfectly suited to my tastes.

One funny bit of synchronicity, too, is that my Belgian-American best bud, Viviane, just bought a condo six hours north in Boston on a street called — you guessed it — Chestnut Hill. Viv and I have stayed connected over the past 10 years, even though we’ve been living in different cities for much of that time. We’re as different as night and day in many ways, but we have a few things in common: we each have one Hungarian parent born and raised in Budapest, we both have grandmothers named Ilona (a Hungarian name; also my sister’s name), and we both spent time studying in Spain. As adults, we both live on the East Coast in places called Chestnut Hill. What a small world. Or, as the Spaniards would say: “¡el mundo es un pañuelo!”

By the way, there’s been no headway on finding the origin of the mystery jeans (see previous post). I’d like to say that Jeff’s off the hook because I trust him one hundred percent but the truth is that my antenna are up right now. Wouldn’t yours be?

Until next time, amigos y amigas!

Doors of Chestnut Hill
Image found at:

The Blog Days of Summer, Post I: The Mystery Jeans

Excuses, Excuses

Last summer at this time, I was a blog-posting machine, but this year I’ve been known to run internet searches using terms like “How Do You Know When It’s Time to Stop Blogging?” and “How to Kill a Dead Blog.” Still, I can’t seem to bring myself to off Iridescently completely. Although I’ll be the first to admit that I’m blogging half-heartedly these days, simply knowing the blog is here somehow feels comforting. As a fledgling writer, I can rest easy in the knowledge that that if I need it, I always have an outlet for my literary flights of fancy.

The past six weeks have provided plenty of blog-worthy moments, most of which I haven’t had the energy to preserve internetically (I just made that word up; feel free to use it). Why so exhausted, you ask? Well, life found me busier than I had been since my college days — more than a decade ago, mind you. Three huge events collided: my first wedding photography assignment, a move to a swanky bedroom suburb (nope, didn’t make that term up), and a new 9-to-5 position so fast-paced, it sometimes felt as if my Canon T3 Rebel was more like a non-violent machine gun than an actual camera.

In spite of all the frenzied activity, I realized sometime last weekend that I needed to either cool it or blow my top. So when life provided a blog-worthy moment, as it often does, I chose to capture it like a hunter stalking her prey, first jotting it down a draft in a spiral-bound notebook and then transcribing it internetically. I hope this will be one of many, as I’ve decided to start a new blog-posting experiment which I’ve deemed “The Blog Days of Summer.” First topic?

The Mystery Jeans 

Marriage is often tricky, sometimes sticky, and — at its worst — icky. You think your relationship is rock solid, until the one day you find a pair of women’s size 4 Lucky Brand Jeans which, although they are your size, [cough, cough] aren’t yours. Not only have you never worn a pair of Lucky Brand Jeans in your life (not that you have anything against them), there is a gigantic hole in one knee. You’re not the type who goes for the distressed denim look. Never have, never will.

“Perhaps they belong to your mistress?” you ask, arms akimbo.

“I swear I don’t know where those came from,” your husband tells you with what you’d like to believe is a genuine expression of shock on his face.

“Oh, really?”

“You’re the only one for me, babe,” he says. And then, as if to illustrate his point, he holds out his left hand to display the solid gold wedding band on his ring finger. This is unfortunate timing, however, as he has just stepped out of the shower and left the ring on the bathroom counter. His hand is as bare as it had been during his hard-drinking bachelor days.

“Wow,” you say, stifling a snicker. “That didn’t work out at all.

And, in spite of the tension, the two you can’t help but laugh.  After an awkward kiss, your husband finishes getting ready for work and the two of you agree to continue the discussion later. You ask him to toss the Lucky Brand Jeans in the trashcan on his way out. After he leaves, you call a friend, who points out: “Honey, maybe your husband was fking another woman, but if that’s the case she left the house wearing her underpants.”

Suddenly, you find yourself glad you haven’t deleted your blog. It sure comes in handy for moments like these when some dirty laundry – a la a pair of size 4 Lucky Brand Jeans — needs to be aired.

Stay tuned for future posts from the Blog Days of Summer.

At least I know they weren't Francesca's jeans. She wears a 2 and besides, she wouldn't be caught dead wearing jeans with  hole in one knee.

At least I know they weren’t Francesca’s jeans. She wears a 2 and besides, she wouldn’t be caught dead wearing jeans with a hole in one knee.

Endless Highway

This stretch of road is like black ribbon,
mile after endless mile under moonless sky.
Where have I come from? Where am I going?
I see the space between two points:
source and destination.
In daytime or night, under blue skies or black,
I coast onwards, eager to arrive.
The road stretches before me, becomes part of me.
Construction zones, once such a hassle,
serve as places of rest when I accept their function:
to increase the flow, to ease congestion, to smooth the wrinkles.
Old road markers, dull and muted,
have been repainted with bright white
marks that serve to guide me
on pitch black nights such as these.
Though I may not be able to see what lies ahead,
I’m not alarmed. My headlights still function.
I can drive all night on this smooth stretch of road.
I pass each marker, luminous with
my headlights’ own reflection,
grateful for guidance.
Road Trip, (2012 by Gina Marie)

Moments of Marital Hilarity

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages” -Friedrich Nietzsche

Almost four years ago, I married Jeff. Like any couple, we’ve experienced our ups and downs. We’ve taken trips abroad, mourned the loss of loved ones, provided support to one another through stressful times, and celebrated the happier moments together.

Anytime I question the sanctity of our marriage, all I have to do is flip open the quote book we started compiling within a few months of our union. We’ve continued the time-honored tradition in our group of friends of recording moments of hilarity for posterity’s sake. This tradition goes back as far as high school and into our drunken college days.

The following conversation, which transpired only moments ago, will surely make it into the quote book. First, though, I’m much obliged to share it here on my blog.

Picture me, this blog’s creator, standing in front of the bathroom mirror staring at my own reflection.

“Do you ever wake up to find new wrinkles on your face?” I called out to Jeff, who was in the adjoining room.

“No,” he said.

I rubbed my face, hoping to erase the unwelcome wrinkle. Was that even a wrinkle? I wondered. Maybe I just slept on my face funny.

“I don’t really pay attention to that stuff,” Jeff said, peeking into the bathroom only to find me contorting my face into mask-like gestures. “From the day we got married, you’ve been talking about wanting a face lift.”

“I think I would benefit from one!” I said, putting my hands on my hips in defense. “If I were rich and famous, I’d get one.”

“But you’re not.”

“Thanks for reminding me that I’m not rich and famous,” I said.

“That’s a good thing.”

“How so?”

“Well, for one thing, we don’t have paparazzi all over the place.”

“I am my own paparazzi,” I said. As if to prove my point, I scurried downstairs to record the conversation which had just transpired.

And there you have it. On good days and bad — and even during those moments when we annoy the hell out of each other — I can’t imagine having such conversations with anyone else in the world. I’m grateful to have a husband who is also one of my dearest friends, and one who is never afraid to call me out on my bullshit.

Hooray for marriage and double hooray for quote books. The latter seem to do a fairly good job of preserving the former.
Bed Designed by Marc Newson, displayed recently at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Photographed by Yours Truly

Meet Francesca, the Headless Plastic Mannequin

Francesca is fit as a fiddle, wears a size 2, and is made entirely of plastic. In recent weeks, she and I have developed a close working relationship.

You know that expression: “Find a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life?” Well, it took me thirty-four years but I think I finally found it. And with it came Francesca, the headless plastic mannequin. This week, I spent forty hours outfitting her in designer clothes and taking pictures of how she looks in them from different angles. Oh yeah, and I actually got paid for it! For someone who loves both fashion and photography, the gig is a snug fit . . . not unlike a pair of size 2 dark blue J Brand skinny jeans.

As with any job, of course, there are some not-so-glamorous parts. Yesterday, I spent several frenzied minutes trying to reattach Francesca’s leg after she lost it during my attempt to outfit her in a pair of Piazza Sempione black wool trousers. A co-worker walked by and — witnessing the scene — muttered, “Poor mannequin.”

“I think we might have a casualty,” I noted, wiping sweat from my brow. Another photographer spotted me struggling and came over to assist. She held the mannequin in place — upside down, mind you — while I reattached Francesca’s leg. Now, that’s teamwork.

In the afternoon, three mannequin torsos mysteriously appeared next to the recycling bins.

“Are we throwing those out?” another of the photographers asked. When she was met with a “yes,” she scooped up those torsos and plopped them down at her station. “You’re taking those home?” someone asked. “What on earth are you going to do with them?”

“I dunno, but you should never turn down free mannequin torsos.”

I didn’t mention any of this to Francesca, who remains perfectly intact (sans head), just waiting for the next photo op.

In this photo, the lovely Francesca is wearing a Saks Fifth Avenue purple satin evening gown. Even without a head, she is simply stunning.

In this photo, the lovely Francesca is wearing a Saks Fifth Avenue purple satin cocktail dress. Even without a head, she is simply stunning.