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Name: La Nina
  New Jersey

I'm a Jersey girl without the big hair or the accent (well, most of the time anyway), but with all of the bad driving and the penchant for weekly manicures.
Oh, and I'm an interior design student. That's how all of the weird terminology comes into play.

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Saturday, December 31, 2005
Natural Finish
Natural Finish: A transparent finish that doesn’t seriously alter the original grain or color of the natural wood. Natural finishes are usually applied with oils, varnishes, and or similar materials. (From the glossary)

It's been four months since I posted here. I've completed two semesters of my interior design master's degree, and they've been very tough, busy, overwhelming, and highly enjoyable months.

I have a lot to look forward to: a trip to Rancho La Puerta with my mom in January, an internship with a residential interior designer in the upcoming semester, and five weeks in Florence, Italy as part of the school's summer program.

What I cherish most of all is my life right now. I'm here in the apartment I designed, with a boyfriend I'm nuts about, and tonight we're just going to stay in.

My favorite room...

Sometimes I'm quietly surprised that I don't need a huge party to bring in the New Year. Tonight it's just us, a steak dinner, champagne, and a mini-marathon of "24". And the God's honest truth is, I couldn't be happier or more excited.

You only have a few hours left, folks. Study up.

My biggest wish right now is that all who celebrate this night do so in a way that feels natural and true to themselves. Happy New Year, everyone.

    posted by La Nina @ 10:39 AM   3 Comments

Wednesday, August 31, 2005
SWEATING - (1) Exudation of oily matter from a film or paint, varnish, or lacquer after the film has apparently dried. (2) On a paint or varnish film, the development of gloss on a dull or matte finish; caused by rubbing the film. (3) Development of gloss in a dry film of paint or varnish after it has been flattened down (sanding). (From the glossary)

AAACK! I suck at this job!

So here I am a month ago saying that I'm going to start writing again and I've written one measly post between then and now. Blimey. I'd better get off my ass.

Rant over. Moving on.

I have endured challenges aplenty this summer, not least of which the four final projects due on the same day with just a little over a week to do them. Those last two days of the summer program are now a hazy period during which I subsisted on Red Bull and fear-induced adrenaline and absolutely no sleep at all.

I hear this movie is truly awful (check out the reviews on, yet it still seems like more fun than the allnighters I endured.

It seems a bit strange right now that my biggest challenge of the fall thus far seems to be how I'm going to juggle classes and the gym. I've just joined a martial arts studio where I'm learning a combination of kickboxing and kung fu (Awesome!) I kick ass. Sort of. If "kicking ass" involves "losing one's balance on a regular basis." Sometimes I can see the look in the instructor's eyes when I try to kick or punch or stand up straight without wobbling. It's like he knows he has Inspector Clouseau on his hands but since I'm paying to be there he must continue to placate me. Then he goes to the storage room and tries to strangle himself with a nine section chain whip. Okay I made that last part up. And I digress.

I expect to be doing this within two weeks. Three tops.

So anyway, it's not a matter of scheduling -- the schedule I can manage. My problem is that there's no showers in this place. My last kickboxing gym was like that too. Except that one was close to home, whereas this one is close to school. And lately I'm finding that I sweat. A lot. It's really gross. No seriously. Stay away from me if you want to live.

Today I handled it by bringing a ton of deodorant, baby powder, and disposable wipe things. That worked for everything except my hair. I also realized that I should bring a change of clothes. I hear that usually helps. But once I do that on a regular basis I'm still gonna have icky hair. Unless I find a solution soon, I'm gonna look awful enough to scare small children.

At least I'll have the skills to be able to fight off the lynch mob when they come for me. I hope.

    posted by La Nina @ 8:07 PM   13 Comments

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
AQUEOUS- Pertaining to water; an aqueous solution is a water solution. (from the Glossary)

I certainly never thought I'd ever see the likes of Aquanet again.

Admit it, ladies. You've seen this before.

Back in high school, there wasn't a proper Jersey Girl who didn't own four cans of the stuff. Seattle music hadn't quite yet made its way East Coast, and nearly every woman's heart in the Garden State (save for mine, oddly enough) still held a soft spot for Jon Bon Jovi. Which is a long way of saying that big hair was still in back then.

Yes, I'm old. But I still get carded. A lot. There, I feel better.

There were two types of big hair at the time: the If-Farrah-Fawcett-jammed-a-fork-into-an-electric-socket look or the Deanna Troi (aka "gather up the front of your hair, push forward, and seal with a barette"). Though I'm pretty sure that it's not just Jersey that's getting this shout out. Check out memory lane:

No amusing caption needed here.

I tended to vacillate between the two, though the former tended to be unsuccessful since my hair is woefully fine. My solution for that was replacing the word "hair" with "bangs" in the charming expression "The higher the hair, the closer to God." Pretty picture there.

I'd say that someday I'll put up my senior yearbook photo up here to illustrate my point, but you'd so know that I was lying, so I won't.

So what does my venture into early 90's Jersey hair have to do with anything? Well, apparently this sh*t seals charcoal onto paper. That makes me feel so much better about the grunge/goth semi-tree-hugging, pseudo-hippie persona I took on somewhere around the time that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" came out. Oh, well. Too late now.

So my drawing teacher was trying to tell us in her lovely South African lilt the methods in which we could preserve our drawings (not that mine are anywhere near worth saving yet), and was trying to come up with the name of the least expensive method. "It's for your hair -- really strong," she said, gesticulating wildly. "Oh, Aquanet," I replied, as though anybody that hadn't heard of it was ridiculously behind the times. Seven women from Boston looked at me like I was speaking Swahili, but I was right. So yeah. Jersey Girl triumphs again.

(The obvious bad joke at this moment would mention something about my roots showing. I'm adult enought to admit that I'm in need of a hair appointment, but that's neither here nor there.)

After that, I headed straight to CVS to get me some of that Aquanet lovliness. But don't think that I'll be putting that stuff in my hair again. I'm a sophisticated woman now. But oh, the volume I get when I spray it on with my head tipped upside down...

Um, excuse me for a bit. I need to struggle with my inner adolescent right now.

    posted by La Nina @ 8:08 PM   4 Comments

Friday, July 15, 2005

RETURN - The piece of an L-shaped desk that is perpendicular to the main desk unit, which provides extra working or computer space. (from the Glossary)

So I've been absent for a while. Sorry. (I'm just as much apologizing to myself for slacking as I am to you, perhaps moreso.)

A lot's happened since that piece about the boxes in May. ("Duh!" The masses cry.) I'm now a Jersey Girl in Boston taking four art studio classes a week in preparation to start my interior design masters degree in the Fall. My man and I have found an apartment in a two family house in the Boston suburbs and are preparing for an August 1st move-in. (You can read all about the painting process we've gone through here.)

I currently live in a dorm and I hate everything about it, from the noise to the crowds to the 18 year-olds with no manners. I am old. I still get carded frequently but I am most definitely old. I knew it for certain when I called security on those little brats for waking me up at one in the morning.

In the dormitory, the lava lamp becomes objet d'art.

Re: the four art studio classes, I take back everything I've ever said prior to now about being busy and stressed. I had NO FLIPPING IDEA what either of those terms even meant before now. The last six weeks have proved to be one of the hardest challenges I've ever lived through. The homework is tremendous. Most nights I get about 4 hours of sleep, particularly when I first started. I am constantly covered in either paint, clay, charcoal, or sawdust and my weekly manicures are a thing of the past. Okay, so they are now bimonthly manicures. Wanna make something of it?

I now work with clay lots, but I still don't work with Patrick Swayze. Big bummer there.

I feel though, that this "hardest challenge" is of the type that reaps the biggest reward. I've met seven really nice, very talented and extremely hardworking women with whom I share my classes. I've got three great teachers from whom I've learned a lot. I've experienced improvement in my artwork like you wouldn't believe. And I've actually got a full portfolio! No wait, two portfolios! Certainly couldn't say that two months ago.

So now I'm back. I'm not going to write every day like I used to. My style may change. That's all groovy though. Change is good. I'm just glad I get to live through changes like this.

    posted by La Nina @ 9:57 AM   6 Comments

Monday, May 16, 2005
BOXING - Mixing paint by pouring from one container to another several times to ensure thorough mixing. (from the Golden Glow Paints Glossary of Paint Terms)

Lately I find that I can't eat.

First of all, I don't have any food. If I did have food, I wouldn't have anything to cook it in, as my pots and pans are packed. Even if I did have anything to cook it with, I have no plates to put it on and no utensils to aid me in the consumption process. All of it is packed and sealed into labeled boxes.

Feels like a song and dance routine, but it's really not.

It's very disconcerting to have a home that's not functional. I mean, sure, I've bought plastic utensils and paper plates (though I forgot the cups -- that made me very irritable the first time I wanted a glass of water), and managed to retrieve the microwave out from underneath the boxes the living room where my dad had put it on Saturday. However, I truly miss my beloved crock pot (I had all of the ingredients ready for another batch of chicken and dumplings and had to toss them. Egads!) and dislike the idea of ordering a pizza just for me. So much goes to waste.

In addition to the 20+ boxes currently blocking my view of the loveseats -- don't cry for me, Argentina, those things are not very pretty and far from comfortable -- I've thrown out at least a dozen large garbage bags' worth of stuff. It's amazing the smorgasbord of completely useless bits and pieces one can accumulate in 5 years of living in one spot. Receipts for tarot reading sessions, MC Hammer pants, the dashboard to a Daewoo Nubira, a lock of Andy Warhol's hair, silly things like that. Thank goodness for storage closets, or else I would have been buried in my apartment ages ago.

Time for a fun and exciting game of "Where's Nina?" (or ¿Dónde está La Niña? in my name's native language)

One thing that this sense of displacement has given me is an even larger desire to finally see this move through to completion. (Odd how excitement can make time speed up and slow down at the same time without resulting in inertia. But I digress.) All I know is that I won't be able to rest until this is over, and I haven't even packed the bed yet.

    posted by La Nina @ 3:52 PM   8 Comments

Tuesday, May 10, 2005
LUMINAIRE - A complete lighting unit consisting of a light source with a means of distribution (reflector and/or refractor), lamp positioning (socket), lamp protection (housing) and a provision for power connection. (from the Young & Co. Glossary of Electrical Terms)

My free time today (surprisingly I have tons) has been overtaken by what I consider to be an engrossing read, so forgive me if my entry is a bit short. Actually, you should a) thank your lucky stars that I wrote an entry at all, and b) when you're finished laughing at suggestion a), heave a sigh of relief that I'm not yammering on as per usual.

The book is Lauren Bacall's newly updated autobiography, By Myself and Then Some. Ms. Bacall is something of a personal idol of mine. Both her career and her personal life have become stuff of legend, and two of my Favorite Films of All Time -- the noir classic The Big Sleep and the funny, frothy How to Marry a Millionaire -- have been dubbed as such in no small amount due to her performances.

Bacall today...

On screen, she exudes a cool chic and a sometimes earthy sort of glamour. In the book (at least so far, I've got loads to go on this puppy), she's incredibly self-deprecating and a very endearing Nervous Nellie.

Regarding her first audition for a Broadway musical:

"Finally my turn came. I gave my name -- no experience except American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I gave my sheet music to the accompanist, a faceless young man -- I was so terrified I didn't see a thing. Mr. Abbot called to me to move out to center stage. First he asked me to do the time step again -- which I could do, God knows, but my knees were shaking so badly I even had trouble with that. Then the dreaded song. I wanted to hang on to the piano, but that was out. I sang it, or talked and sang it, or did something with it. I got through it terribly without confidence or voice -- at the end I was told to leave my name with the stage manager, thanked for my trouble, and the next name was called. I knew I'd never hear from them. What an experience! It was like going to the chair."

...Bacall back then.

That's what I love about a good biography: getting a look behind the persona and really seeing the person. I hardly expected to read something like that from the woman who at the age of nineteen uttered the immortal line, "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow." Now that's acting.

    posted by La Nina @ 4:20 PM   3 Comments

Thursday, May 05, 2005
Crawl Space
CRAWL SPACE - A low space above or below the house, just tall enough to permit such work as jacking up a sagging ground floor from below or installing ceiling fixtures above. (from the Creative Homeowner Glossary)

I have dug myself into a hole.

It's been nearly a month since I last wrote here. I've found the vicious cycle of blog malaise to be extremely overpowering. Odd, since malaise is hugely based in apathy.

I have dug myself into a hole. Holes suck.

I'm not apathetic though. In fact, quite the opposite. I just feel that I've got nothing to write about since this whole period of my life -- i.e. the time I spend here until my train takes me to Boston on May 24th -- to boil down to anxious anticipation. All I can think about is the future. The present is just something I tolerate, and why write about something I just tolerate? I mean, how boring is that?

I am now slowly crawling out of the hole. I'm ruining my manicure in the process, but so what?

Only now am I realizing that this is totally the wrong approach. Instead of tolerating it I should appreciate it for what it represents. When I look back on this period in a couple of months, I'll value it as a time when I woke up each morning full of excitement and hope. As a time when I spent every free moment I could with my family since my visits with them will be most likely few and far between once the move happens. As a time when I could stick my head outside and and revel in the fact that I wasn't friggin' freezing. And that memory would be a much clearer one if only I would just get out of my funk and document it. So here I am.

I am noticing lots of other holes in my path.

Recently, I've watched some of my favorite blog writers fall off the map (
Aussie Shiraz and Pink Poppy, where are you?). I can to an extent understand why. Life gets in the way sometimes. But since this is all about me after all, I hope that they come back as soon as they realize the void their absence has placed in my life.

A big gaping hole, if you will.

Thanks for putting up with me while I work out my *ahem* blog issues. If you're more up for entertainment, Wading in the Velvet Sea has a truly enjoyable music compilation challenge. I could spend all day with it, but somebody else really ought to take a turn first.

    posted by La Nina @ 3:59 PM   1 Comments