Monday, November 21, 2011

Daily Diary

     Mandy emerged from the fabric store, bags of colorful material and patterns in her arms. She made a beeline for her car and drove home to the sounds of the soothing music of the contemporary music station on her radio. What was it that mom always said about shopping for fabrics? Make sure you have your sketches with you, so that you can pick out just the right material for what you want to sew! Mom was always so full of great advice. So Mandy had had her hand-drawn illustrations with her and off she went peeking in from aisle to aisle of glorious fabrics. She was like a kid in a candy store.
     Lavenders, pinks, yellows, peach-like colors, all sheer and see-through pieces for layering on top of solid, bolder blues and purples. Those were her initial choices as she loaded up her shopping cart earlier that day. Make sure you have enough thread, was another favorite advice of mom’s. Upon reaching her town home, she immediately went into the kitchen to make herself a hot cup of coffee because she definitely wanted to be awake for the creative dress-making process that she was about to start on.
     She took a glance at the faux light pink stretchy leopard print and updated her plans on the creation of leggings by adding that print to her collection of legging fabric material. You can never go wrong with leggings, was another of mom’s trustworthy advice.
     After a couple of swigs of her creamer-laced coffee, off she went cutting the patterns out. She then used glue and pasted the thin pattern paper onto more sturdy regular brown wrap paper. She was on a roll and didn’t want to stop to answer her suddenly ringing phone and let it go to her answering machine.
     “It’s me Leah,” blurted the machine. “Where is the Daily Diary? I’m next in line to write in it and I’ve already got a few thoughts I’ve been going over to put in it . . . . Will call you back later, bye for now!” with that a clicking of Leah’s phone could be heard hanging up.
     The Daily Diary right, Mandy remembered that she was indeed the one chosen to start off her circle of friends one circulating diary. She held up a pink and yellow paisley print and wrapped it around her shoulders. This will make a nice simple bolero, she thought. She already had the orange bangles to go with the outfits she was going to produce that day. However, she noted that Leah was right about their collective Daily Diary project. So, she reached up on her top shelf and brought down an average-sized ocean blue faux leather bound diary and took a moment to admire the rainbow of colored leaves embossed on it. In raised letters all of her friends had agreed on, and had paid the stationary store to title it ‘Daily Diary.’
     She sat down and wrote,
     Dear diary,
     You are the brain child of twenty collective friends who want to write down their thoughts, as a sort of shared consciousness on paper. This entry will be the first. Who knows, perhaps there will be several volumes of a collective diary collection?
     My day went okay today and I’m happy that I bought enough material for some leggings, simple tops, a bolero and smattering of short skirts. I bought some nail polish for everyone, including mom because they make great party favors. I’m planning a get-together to celebrate mom’s birthday this March. In fact I’m centering this entry around cooking, friends and gatherings . . .
     You sure do remember things like that extra garlic on your shrimp scampi that made you appreciate it more, or that pickle relish in that sandwich spread that mom made special just for you. We all have great memories when it comes to food. Do you remember that time that you celebrated the end of freshman finals with pizza and buffalo wings?
     Or the time you made fresh mashed potatoes with that new masher for Thanksgiving dinner from your roommate? Or the time you baked fresh chocolate chip cookies for that English professor who wanted to publish your paper in the university press? Or that time that you celebrated getting your puppy with a banana split? Or that time that you grilled pork ribs on the Bar-B-Que just to impress that special someone? Or that time that you sliced some oranges, apples, plums, pineapples and even papayas, and then topped the whole thing with red and green grapes, in an effort to lose enough weight to fit into that designer dress?
     Or the time that you whipped up vanilla and banana health shakes to energize you for those all-important rigorous workouts? Or when you cooked that vegan spaghetti in order to lower your body fat level enough to do the splits?
     We have all had those moments, and the food accompanying those memories always stand out. How about that simple pleasure, when you baked blueberry muffins and enjoyed them while reading the morning paper and sipping coffee?
Eating good, wholesome cooking would only result in a happier me.
     How about that time that you enjoyed chocolate pudding while turning page after page of your favorite novel? When we write journal entries, time stands still for those moments we write about. Each moment we choose to write about, goes into slow motion and then, while the rest of the world is still bustling, those moments hold still just long enough for our minds to pick up the nuances that we want to remember about them. We freeze each memory frame, so that we can describe them in detail.
     Those details, like what we were wearing, what was on our minds, and the expressions on the faces of those around us, are woven in and out of our journaling, and that’s how memories are captured.
     The colorful platters, the beautiful centerpieces, the table settings, plus of course how the food tasted and made us feel, make our entries spicy, funny, sweet, scrumptious, delicious.
     When writing in one’s personal diary, making time stand still, gives us clarity in how to describe specific moments. When you add food to the mix, it can make journaling a composition of fun, happy moments—pages that will entertain and make you feel grounded in this rapidly changing world . . .
     —end of diary entry—
     A little while later, during the early part of March . . .
     Leah was carefully wrapping the wide peach ribbon around the gift box. She wished that she would have bought two of that sweater within. Fuzzy sweaters were such a welcome addition to her closet this time of year, but this particular one would be a gift to Mandy’s mom. After all Mandy had gotten her the job with Seasonal Sports as a data entry staff member. With the gift box all ready to go, Leah was anticipating Mandy’s gathering of girlfriends at the lodge. They were celebrating Mandy’s mother’s 70th birthday. She looked forward to sitting by the fire and sipping hot cocoa, with the marshmallow pieces inside. She looked at the clock, she would have to get a move on, if she wanted to get a good parking spot. She gathered her brown locks into a ponytail, carefully securing it with a purple elastic band.
     She phoned Mandy . . .
     “ . . . I’ll be on my way really soon, who all is there already?”
     “Just a few of the girls . . . still missing a few . . .” Mandy said on the other end.
     “I’ll see you then, shortly . . .” Leah said hanging up.
     There had been something strange going on at work, there were discrepancies in some of the data entry figures and she wanted to talk to Mandy about it, particularly away from the office, so the lodge would be the perfect place to make her inquiries.
     At Seasonal Sports where everything in the corporate office was done up so post modern chic, although the data entry positions were at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder, there was a certain satisfaction that came with working there. Positions in the company, were coveted far and wide by the surrounding communities and the occasional out-of-towner who came to make CoastEnd Valley their new home.
     Leah took a few minutes to write an entry in the Daily Diary . . . .
     Dear diary,
     The mall was hectic today! I couldn’t get a parking space big enough for the car, so I ended up occupying part of the space next to mine—but it was a necessity, so I wouldn’t bang any doors (particularly mine!).
     Who said the economic indicators have taken a down turn? There were lots of shoppers! Luckily Mandy’s favorite store had sparse customers—I was able to breeze in and stumble my way out, joining the massive crowds on the walkway, coming away of course, with an attractive sweater for her mother!
      I wanted so desperately to stop by the make-up counter at Sinestro’s and try on that gleaming pink lipstick, but to no avail—I had to get home to get ready for the party.
     Here now, is my formal entry to this Daily Diary. It is a re-accounting of one of my days spent at Saturday fashion school at the Trend Institute . . .
     Good design in products goes a long way into reducing the carbon footprint—that was my message for my fellow fashion design students that day when I was the teacher’s aide.
     As far as I was concerned, precious stones were the only truly remarkable carbon footprints. I have a fascination for the setting, mixing and the matching of jewelry rocks that verge on being described as my base passion in life.
     Many products leave carbon footprints, and it makes it worse when they aren’t the right fit for their intended use. This could only happen when the acute condition of improper design happens. Poor design whether in the high tech world or the beautiful fashion scene, results in products bearing wasted carbon footprints. As the teacher’s aide for that day, my message at the Trend Institute to all my fellow students, was to stay in school and create products with appeal, in order to reduce the carbon footprint of garments with poor design. I admit that it was a little bit of a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ attitude, but it grabbed their attention and earned me an ‘A.’
     I have a flare for fashion design that stems from a strategy using garment creation based on precious stones. Matching garments to jewelry based on the color hue, then the cut, fringe and slants from the stand point of pairing the dress with the model’s jewelry has been the basis of a class they teach at the Trend Institute at CoastEnd Valley for years.
     Treasure Rocks were what the natives had called precious stones when I went on safari in Africa for my eighteenth birthday. The jewelry created from those stones, the only true carbon gifts (in my mind) from nature and the acknowledgement of which, is my way of contributing to the reduction of unnecessary carbon footprints.
     “Ms. Danning, why are bad designs in any occupation so bad?” the instructor had asked me.
     “I feel that you should always strive for excellence in whatever you create. Badly designed products not only cause a lot of market aggravation, but they take up a lot of unrecyclable space. Everything eventually will get recycled because nature is powerful enough to work its magic over time, but we must do our part by producing products based on education and invested know-how,” I then explained.
     “What are you saying . . . that manufacturers aren’t allowed to experiment and output wasted materials?” the instructor had persisted.
     “What I call manufacturing faux pas, are just wayward designs. My attitude towards reducing the carbon footprint is not entirely from a materialistic take. True, there are some really bad products out there, but product avoidance is not the answer. The answer is to stay in school and help to produce the most useful, environmentally conscious things that people can not only use, but that they can truly appreciate,” I then emphasized.
     “What is your theory based on Ms. Danning?” was her last question for me.
     “Precious Stones, as far as I’m concerned, they are nature’s example of what carbon products to produce. I’m just saying that good design in products goes into reducing the carbon footprint,” you could have heard the strain in my voice at the point.
     With that I was dismissed from class that day.
     Good design goes a long way into reducing the carbon footprint. I had quickly glanced at my emerald-encrusted wristwatch and knew that that still held true.
     —end of diary entry—
     With that, Leah closed the Daily Diary and got ready to hand it off to Cassie at the party.
     An hour later, she pulled up to the lodge, with her boots keeping her feet warm and dry during the drizzly weather, she marched up the steps to the lodge and was warmly greeted by some of the girls from work.
     Setting her gift for Mandy’s mom on the cutely decorated gift table, she began to mingle with the growing group. Mandy in a warm sweater dress and fashionable boots descended the lodge staircase, just as Leah took her first sip of cocoa.
     “Hi everyone, thank you all for coming, it’s good to see all of you. I hope you’re all enjoying the good food. Just in the adjoining room are some electronic interactive games, complete with a dance pad and microphones. Please feel free to belt out show tunes, or learn the next dance craze. Overall, let’s have fun . . . the cake-cutting will be in an hour, followed by the gift-opening . . . . love having you all here!”
     Mandy was always the perfect hostess, Leah had never known anyone more gracious than her. She managed to steal Mandy’s attention for a crucial 15 minutes.
      “Mandy how I can I break this to you? There’s some funny numbers and figures being entered into the database—a lot of it on my end . . .” Leah confided.
     “Take a deep breath Leah, tell me what’s bothering you about the figures . . .”
     “I wouldn’t have even thought twice about it but I saw the Master List and compared the figures from there, with what I was given to enter into the system. Some of the numbers are off, by as much as 10 dollars at a time. The monthly annuity checks are made out to investors of Seasonal Sports, and those additional 10 dollars here and there, add up to contribute to money in excess of what’s due to them. I wouldn’t have even noticed it, had I not seen the Master List . . .” Leah was clearly worried.
     She tried not to worry too much about her findings from work and managed in the short time that she was at the lodge, to hand off the Daily Diary to Cassie Shane.
     The party eventually wound down, and a week later in another part of town, Cassie could be seen rummaging through envelopes of letters from her mail.
     Cassie Shane was the fashion editor of TrendyThoughts magazine and received hundreds of letters from young girls on a weekly basis asking her how to get the look?
     Young girls also liked to send her the virtual type of mail by way of email. The overwhelming number of them were questions regarding the topics of how to move in the direction towards positive change. Many had amassed tons of fashion articles from the magazine to pick through to look for words of wisdom on how to get the look. Some of the topics were on low rise jeans, others were on highlighted hair that had already been lightened to some degree. Other articles deemed it a positive endeavor to slather cosmically swirly nail polish on. Of course, one could never go wrong with deep rich colors for eye contour. Articles on everything from detoxifying beverages, which included water, to artificial sweeteners, to just about anything food trendy were must reads in order to learn about hydration and nutrition. In all the articles, the message was that nothing was as visually captivating as images of change . . . of transformations . . .
     That day, Cassie’s schedule was going to be a nebulous one because she didn’t yet have a handle on the numerous tasks ahead of her, when an email reached her from a certain Zoe Monroe.
     Earlier, she had gone to the local market and picked up the local paper and said “hi” to Sandy behind the cash register and proceeded to go down the chocolate aisle to pick up her weekly stash of yummy chocolate bars. She checked out the paper while she was in line waiting to pay for the chocolate when she read about the upcoming community business owners meeting in the local news section. She should be present at that meeting, she thought. After all she did a sort of annual yearbook for that area’s residents.
     Her one stop most mornings was this local market to get the paper and to get her chocolate fix. Other venues for early morning stops were usually dotted by the many brewing coffee pots in town. It also depended on what supplies she needed to get in the early mornings. A bath for Happy, her pet Dobie would always most likely have resulted in a trip to the Vet Center because they had pet grooming accommodations there.
     Then came Zoe’s email that day and she felt that the communication that had transpired between the two of them was going to be the perfect entry for the Daily Diary.
     So she began to write . . .
     Dear diary,
     This was the recent back-and-forth-email between Zoe and myself regarding the topic, ‘getting the Look.’
Email:
     Dear Cassie, it’s me Zoe Monroe. I am now a senior at Stadium Valley High School. In a year’s time I’m being graded on a major school project as the director of the senior fashion show. Help! What do you look for to get the look? I’ve read a couple of your articles in TrendyThoughts, but everything
seems so nebulous right now, how do I begin to organize my thoughts towards a successful fashion show?
Cassie’s Reply:
     First of all Zoe, start out simple. I would recommend that you go out and buy (of all things), a simple bottle of nail polish—any color whatsoever that you want it to be, preferably something that will uplift your mood and give you some inspiration.
     Let’s say that you just bought purple nail polish and that you’ve painted your fingernails already. Look at the mini-artwork you’ve created on your nails, admire it, then put pen to paper or fingertips to your keyboard to document what comes next . . .
     Slowly begin to buy fashion pieces that match your fingernail polish—it’s that simple! Everything you buy will of course be for the fashion show, so if you start now, you’ll have all your pieces when it comes time. Now to match that purple polish, buy a matching lengthy belt to hang loosely around your hips.
     The next time you buy nail polish again, let’s say you get a bubble gum pink color, buy two or three pastel camp shirts (maybe one with a paisley design) to go with it. Then your next nail color might be a sky blue one. In that case buy a pair of frayed cut-off-at-the-waistline, low-rise cropped jeans in light denim. Are you beginning to see a pattern emerge?
     Your thinking may have started out nebulous, but now we’re giving it structure, something you can dig into. When you come across that pearl white nail polish and you put it on your fingernails, get yourself to a dress store and purchase that beige, trendy career skirt suit to go with it—it’s all about the fashion show after all and in this way you can budget it all out by buying a few pieces at a time.
     Remember, let your painted fingernails do your guiding for you, no one at the store has to know that you’re using them to match outfits and accessories. Why in fact, you can build a database out of your purchases and tie them into the web, by using the nail polish colors as the indexes. As you know, more than one garment, piece of jewelry or accessory will go with a particular nail color, so group those items together and use a color that will match each of them as your index hue. This is where it gets technical, use a computer programming language like PHP to query your database. With a list of nail polish colors as indexes (and you should end up with a range of about 50 of them) bring up all the pieces that go with a particular color you are querying and then the magical part will be to mix and match.
     Believe it or not diary, Zoe Monroe went on to put together the most successful fashion show in that school’s history. I was on hand to document everything for an upcoming fashion article in TrendyThoughts magazine. My idea of using nail polish colors as indexes for purchasing clothing pieces to populate fashion databases has now set the trend for many consequent magazine issues . . .
     —end of diary entry—
     Eventually, when it came time for their next friend Heather Blake to make an entry into the Daily Diary, Heather was at a loss for words, because she felt emotionally distraught over losing the one steady job she had had in the last six years.
     All the friends discussed what Heather’s options were and Leah came up with at plan . . . .
     She went and approached senior management at Seasonal Sports and explained to them there were discrepancies in the figures she had been entering for the various shareholders accounts and suggested that the local paper might be very interested in investigating some of the accounting anomalies.
      “Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves Leah,” Bob had muttered under his breath somewhat uneasily, “I’m sure there’s a logical explanation to all of this.”
      “Well for the sake of the argument, let’s pretend I had been mistaken in what I saw with the figures . . . might you possibly have two openings in your marketing department—one for me and another for my friend Heather?” Leah ventured to ask.
      “Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here . . .” Bob grunted.
      “Well, it won’t take me any time at all to call up the paper. Again, would you know of any openings in Marketing?”
     “Let’s just say that you are driving a hard bargain, but the paper will ask you for some proof . . . .” Bob said, standing his ground.
     “Yes, and the copier in the copy room has been working overtime, just for that purpose, I can assure you . . .”
     “Now, now . . . . maybe we can work something out . . . give the marketing supervisor a call Monday morning Leah. I’m sure there’s room for you and your friend Heather in that department,” Bob paused, “will there be anything else?”
     “No, no, . . . not at all. you have a good rest of the morning Bob!” with that Leah snuck back to her cubicle and composed an email to ask all her friends to meet her at their favorite eatery after work.
     She couldn’t believe her luck!
     In time the Daily Diary overflowed with the written voices of the friends from CoastEnd Valley. It kept them close and followed their lives as they inevitably aged gracefully.

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