My favorite dress of the night was the Alexander McQueen dress that Kate Hudson wore. It had just enough detail to stay classy and modern. So gorgeous.
My favorite dress of the night was the Alexander McQueen dress that Kate Hudson wore. It had just enough detail to stay classy and modern. So gorgeous.
In the wake of Friday’s tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, it feels wrong to begin the week with a post on fashion. It is not because I am a parent, that I am heartbroken. This tragedy has touched every single one of us.
It’s time to address the issues that confront us over and over again. Soon the news crews and cameras will leave Newtown, and people will begin to go back to their regular routines until the next senseless tragedy occurs.
Please read the article, below, that was posted in the Huffington Post yesterday. It is an account of a mother of a mentally ill son. It is not only sad, but frightening.
Let’s begin the conversation and not stop talking until we find a solution.
Friday’s horrific national tragedy — the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.
While every family’s story of mental illness is different, and we may never know the whole of the Lanza’s story, tales like this one need to be heard — and families who live them deserve our help.
Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.
“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.
“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”
“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”
“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”
I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.
A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan — they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.
That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.
We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.
At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.
Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.
The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”
“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”
His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”
That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.
“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”
“You know where we are going,” I replied.
“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”
I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”
Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.
The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork — “Were there any difficulties with… at what age did your child… were there any problems with.. has your child ever experienced.. does your child have…”
At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.
For days, my son insisted that I was lying — that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”
By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.
On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”
And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.
I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.
According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.
When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”
I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise — in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.
With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill — Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011.
No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”
I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.
God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.
(Originally published at The Anarchist Soccer Mom.)
- Ann Demeulemeester (via indieeb)
(via baroqueandrock )
I wear a lot of black. I always have. Along with whites, grays, and different ranges of beige, black is the perfect color. It’s good to know that I am in good company in my thoughts.
Images via Divine Comedie
This week, I was featured on Project Motherhood NYC. Project Motherhood in a ongoing diary by a mom in NYC , chronicling her journey from fashionista to mama. Take a look at my interview and learn how I balance (or not really) my work and home life.
At this time of year especially, we all seem to get so caught up in our to-do lists that we forget to focus on ourselves. I know that “tis the season for giving,” but sometimes you need to relax and give a little something to yourself. Therefore, I introduce you all to fashion stylist Arezoo Tarkain who graciously answers some important fashion questions for us!
How did you get started as a stylist?
I have always been really passionate about the fashion industry. From the time I was a teenager, I would subscribe to as many magazines as I could, and I always read them cover to cover. So whenever anyone made a comment to me about wanting an item of clothing or liking a particular trend, I would go into a 20 minute lecture about the pros and cons of the item or trend, even if they never really asked my opinion. As a result, more and more people began to ask me my opinion, and from there I began to help people shop and edit their closets. I am a lawyer by trade, so I would stop for brief periods when my workload became overwhelming. But then after having my kids I stopped practicing law and went back to styling full time.
How do you balance your career with being a mother?
The word “balance” is really tricky. Honestly, there is never really a true balance. It’s a constant juggle. Some days I am a better stylist than parent, and other days I am a better parent than stylist.
I think the trick is to let the small stuff go and to reach out for help when you need to. For a while, I tried to do it all myself, and it’s really impossible. So now, if I need to, I ask a classmate’s parent to take my daughters home with them for a playdate, or wrangle my husband in to help, but I don’t expect to get it all done myself.
Also, organization is key. I can’t tell you how many times I missed taking in things to school last year. I would get to the classroom and see that all the other kids were walking in with cans of soup for a project, and I would cringe. This year, I am happy to say that I am much more organized and haven’t missed a project yet.
As every parent knows, getting to the place where you feel balanced is a constant work in progress. I am lucky enough to love both my careers (motherhood and styling), and so process is always fun.
My advice for people who are trying to find their own style is to browse and then browse some more. Look through magazines, search the web, read fashion blogs, and pull out the pieces that you love. As you do that, you will start to see a pattern. If you pull out enough pictures, you will notice that you are drawn to a certain look. I always find myself drawn to pieces that are structured, classic, and minimal. That’s my personal style. It’s really an interesting experiment to try.
Being busy Mamas, it can be easy to fall into the “yoga pants routine.” What advice can you give to help keep our looks stylish without being too relaxed?
Keep the yoga pants out of reach and find items that feel just as comfortable. Really soft skinny jeans, fitted cargo pants, and, my favorite, harem pants, are all great substitutes for yoga pants. You can pair any of them with a really comfortable pair of boots for the winter and sandals for the summer, and you’re ready to go. Also, it’s always more comfortable to wear pants that have a higher rise waistband. It just makes picking out a shirt and bending down a lot easier.
What is your best style advice for dressing for holiday events?
Stick with your basics and add holiday cheer with your accessories. The classic black pants or little black dress, which should already be in your closet, would look great with a metallic, faux-fur, or holiday-inspired scarf. You can embellish with gold jewelry or a knock-out belt. Just remember that less is always more!
If you could only have one accessory to embellish your look this holiday season, what would it be and why?
If I could have anything I wanted, I would definitely pick an Alexander McQueen Knucklebox Clutch. In addition to being a good size clutch for the nighttime necessities, it is also the coolest jewelry to have on your hand.
Well ladies, there you have it! Some great fashion advice for the holiday season and beyond!
For anyone who hasn’t watched the the September Issue, Grace Coddington is the creative director of Vogue magazine. She has fiery red hair and a life unlike many other people. She began her career in fashion as a model and in 1988, she started at Vogue. She is the force behind some of the most memorable editorials, and I have the privilege of hearing her speak tonight at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
RJ Cutler, the producer of the September Issue, will be interviewing Coddington regarding her memoir, released in November, 2012. The book is an amazing recount of the fashion world from the 1950s until the present, and I have been unable to put the book down since I began reading it. I am so looking forward to hearing Coddington speak about her life, her work, and the memoir.
Now just waiting for the presents
Even the girls’ playroom gets decorated
Attended the Voli Spirits Event Hosted by Fergie. Laughed and laughed with the most talented colorist in Los Angeles, Anival Morales.
On Tuesday night, Chanel held, and Karl Lagerfeld orchestrated, the pre-fall 2013 show in the roofless Linlithgow Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland. The courtyard was lined with flaming braziers. The guests walked up the spiral stone stairs to the great hall where they were treated to a show full of tweeds, knits, and cardigans.
This collection is inspired by the heavy woolens Coco Chanel wore during her love affair with the Duke of Westminster in the 1920s. During the affair, Chanel took up outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting, and she adopted the tweeds and knits that the men wore.
The Pre-Fall 2013 shows are in full swing, and as always, it will be close to impossible to outdo this dramatic spectacle.
Only in Los Angeles can I go from craving the coziness of jackets and dark colors of Fall to craving the brightness of the whites of Spring all in the same week.
My craziness can be explained by our crazy weather. We started the week with cloudy skies and rain and are ending the week with sun.
Here are some of my favorite looks from Celine’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection.
Images via Celine
It seems crazy to talk about Pre-fall 2013 while it is still Fall 2012, but since the weather has been cold (finally), and I absolutely love HL’s pre-fall 2013 collection, I figured it was a good time to share some of my favorite pieces. I love the boxy jackets and tops. After having my kids, I have a newfound love of anything boxy or baggy or drapey.
The collection is so clean, minimal, and modern. All the characteristics that make my heart sing. (Similar post about Celine tomorrow, except it will be about Spring.)
Images via Style.com