The Lights Are On, But Nobody's Home

or: 

Why Do You Even Pay for This Blog If You're Never Going to Update It? 


Hello, and welcome to Sloane Condé. You may be one of my dear followers who's been wondering whatever happened to me. You may be robots, wondering why you're bothering to spam this website if no one's even reading it (although if you are robots, I really hope you are not wondering anything at all. Trust me, sentience is not worth the trade-off of existential dread). You are mostly likely my mother, and in that case you are the best. 

                                                I DIDN'T GIVE UP ON IT, OKAY? 

The truth is that the past year and a half of my life represent a series of important experiences and personal journeys - not to mysteriously vague post, ugh - but there was a lot going on that made a something like a fashion blog feel a little bit frivolous. More recently, I've been focusing on memoires and short stories that have been collecting dust in my documents folder since like, 7th grade. More generally, I've been focusing on a more serious in-depth study of life in France and the development of French culture, which is something that's essential to my future studies, but not something I'm interested in blogging about. And most importantly, guys, reality. Life. Taxes, school applications, tests, never ending Kafka-esque bureaucracy, adulthood, suddenly I'm going home for Christmas and oh god I should study for the DALF and aaaaaaahhhhhhh! 

The point is that I will be back, and soon, and I have something I REALLY want to tell you about the difference between French dress as an expression of group identity vs. American dress as an expression of group identity that totally just wishes it were individual identity. 

In the mean time, I am unchangingly and most fondly yours,

Sloane 

HEY WHAT'S UP HELLO

Hiiii I'm back! First of all, according to Squarespace metrics there are still like five of you who come here each day, which is exactly five times more than I do, so thank you, even if you are probably actually just robots. Thank you, Robots. Secondly, I can't even begin to jump into where exactly the hell I have been (I can, but whatever) so we're going to have instead this Myspace survey that I borrowed from Assembled Hazardly and kind of changed a little and whatever. 

1. What are you wearing? J.Crew neck to ankle, which is concrete proof that people don't change. 

2. Have you ever been in love? I have been in love exactly three times. 

3. Have you even gone through a horrible breakup? There's no such thing as a fun breakup? But if you're asking if I've ever like, screamed at someone over the return of a sweatshirt, no, I've never done that. If I've ever stolen clothing from you, it should be understood that it's for keeps, and you should know that I probably still have it, and frankly, probably plotted to have it from the first time I saw you wear it. 

4.  How tall are you? 5 feet 5 and one half inches.

5. How much do you weigh? I actually weigh about 35 pounds. My height is deceptive, I know. Most people don't realize that the human soul accounts for a lot of extra weight, and so I had mine removed years ago. That, and my tonsils. 

6. Do you have tattoos? Not yet, although I intend to soon!

7. Do you have piercings? I constantly have to re-pierce my ears. And then my belly button, I guess? I had it done when I was like 16 and people always comment on it but I totally forget it's even there, I may as well have been born with a metal piece in my abdomen. 

8. What is the ideal couple to you? I think where I am right now, the ideal relationship would basically be someone willing to go on adventures and be a little ridiculous and over-the-top romantic, but also not take it all that seriously? I'm very much still in that "wild oats" phase.

More broadly, I always really look up to couples that excel by supporting each other's individuality and pursue different interests and lives together. That's what I consider a true power couple. 

 9. Your favourite TV show?  Mad Men is literally the greatest show ever created and I will physically fight anyone that says otherwise. Also, Rick and Morty! 

10. WHY DID YOU MAKE A SUPER BIG DEAL OUT OF YOUR BLOG AND LET IT DIE? So basically what had happened was, in college, I felt really consistently intellectually engaged, as though there was this really important and valuable work of asking questions and having opinions on things. The sporadic and rare posting schedule was more a question of time constraint than anything else; given the choice I would've written a new essay everyday. When I graduated, two things happened at once: first, typical summertime slump when all you want to do is lay on your couch and eat chips. The second thing was this stupid existential crisis thing, a lot of really heavy shit happening all at once. I came out of it with this sudden exhaustion for serious thought, genre: we're all just trying to get through our day and eat and sustain ourselves and grapple with the inescapable reality of mortality, so honestly, who really cares about the intersection of clothing and workplace politics?*

All told, all pretty normal post-grad shit. But it takes a really surprising amount of self-esteem to publish a blog and assume that people care what you have to say, and I didn't have anything good to add to the conversation, so I didn't add anything. And now I'm back with a Myspace survey, WHAT UP.

(*That's a very important conversation to have and I sincerely hope someone does care about that! But whoever it is, it hasn't been me for the past four months.)

11. Something you're missing? My cat. Also, the other day I realized that the one thing New York has on Paris is characters, just really unabashedly colorful, strange people. They're around, of course, but they're rare birds. I realized it had been a while since I'd seen a dude walking around with a leashed cat on his head. In New York I thought it was attention-grabby and stupid. Now I realize I kind of miss that.   

12.  Your favourite song? My all-time all-time all-time favorite song is Good Morning, Good Morning by The Beatles. My current favorite song is Baby Jane by the Detroit Wheels. 

13. How old are you? 22

14. What's your astrological sign? Cancer. It's funny because I have literally none of the good qualities (nurturing, selfless, homemaker) and all of the bad ones (jealous, moody, guarded). 

15. An essential quality for a boyfriend? Challenging - not in an emotionally messy, "fixer upper" kind of way. More "enriching." Someone that makes me feel as though I'm discovering something/learning new things/building, rather than going through the motions of being with someone just for the sake being with someone. I'd rather be alone than in boring company.

16. Favourite Quote? "Life is short. Calm down. Enjoy it. It's all funny." - Joan Rivers

17. Favourite Actor? Johnny Depp, msotly because watching Pirates of the Caribbean at age 10 explains SO MUCH about my boy preferences to this day. 

18. Favourite Colour? Green and pink, but not to like, wear or anything. 

19. Do you listen to music at a low or high volume? Loud. The damage has been done.

20. Where do you go when you are sad? When I'm sad, I take really long walks and try to work things out in my brain - I think this is why winters are so difficult for me. The bigger the problem, the longer the walk. My all-time record is from the Museum of Natural History to Bushwick. 

Since I've been in Paris, I've gone twice to Montparnasse, the neighborhood I stayed in last summer. I never actually liked it then and I still don't really like it now, but it's weirdly cathartic, because it feels like about 40 million years ago, in a "You've come a long way, baby," sort of way. But because it does seem so long ago, it's a potent reminder that I won't always be the person I am right now, that life is weird as fuck in the best possible way, and that "there are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." 

21. How long do you stay in the shower? Anywhere from twenty minutes to several days, depending. 

22. How long does it take to get ready in the morning? One hour and ten minutes. Ten minutes to lay in bed and deny fate; ten minutes to put on coffee (I have to heat water in a pot like a goddamn animal); twenty five minutes to dick around online and drink coffee and maybe some bread and jam and continue denying fate; five minutes to convince self I really need to move NOW; and then the rest of the time to brush teeth, wash face, toner, moisturizer, no make up make up (that is complicated shit yo) and then lint roll because all my clothes are somehow STILL covered in cat hair.

23. Did you ever get in a fight?  One time in high school, my best friend and I got into a shouting match in middle of the street because she thought I was ditching her to go hang out with a boy (I mean, I kind of was, but not immediately like that). We like to pretend that we had to be held back from fist-fighting, but listen, she would've hit me once and I'd have cried and that would've been the end. 

24. Something that seduces you in a man? I'm a sucker for an accent! Also, real confidence. 

25. The most repelling thing in a man? I can't even put this into words - I can forgive a lot of sins, romantically, but there are dudes that consistently make you think, "Ugh laaaaame," for whatever reason - maybe a it's lack of confidence, or close-mindedness - and they are to be avoided. 

26. Why do you have a blog? Because Squarespace auto-renewed and I either use this opportunity to hone my writing skills or I'm out $95 bucks. #honesty

27. What are you afraid of? So many things! But fear is not always constructive and, I don't know, these days I'm really trying to recognize fear and run through it, not away from it.

28. The last thing that made you cry? Stress! 

29. The last time you said "I love you"?  Yesterday, to your mom? No, to my mom. 

30. What does your blog name mean? "Sloane Condé and Pepper Van Der Somethingsomething are the lead members of an internationally renowned electropop grrrrl band," - Wikipedia, I definitely swear, for real.

The truth is lame! Like, three years ago? I had a conversation with a friend about how peoples' names sometimes don't fit them. I remember saying that I really, really like my real name, but this friend told me he saw me as more of a "Sloane." Near simultaneously, my best friend was having the same conversation with someone else, and she had the idea that she should steal the nickname "Pepper" from one of our friends. 

That very night, we accidentally (literally, accidentally) ended up at party in Bushwick, thrown by some Pratt freshman at the fanciest fucking 18 year old's apartment I've seen to this day. Hanging out with freshman sparked a conversation about how far we'd come, at the ripe old age of 20, since our 18 year old days in ~the city~ and the people we wanted to become in the future. Whatever whatever, lots of people do this, we adopted false personas for the evening, using the names we'd both had conversations about earlier that day and the idea of the people we'd be if we had the freedom to create ourselves. Only this time, they totally stuck. And since we take things really, really far, Sloane and Pepper came to be very real and personal symbols of particular versions of ourselves, the women we are when we're anonymous and free to completely invent ourselves - so that's the point of the blog title, the freedom of self-definition and telling your own story and whatever. 

So basically, it's a drunken inside joke.

31. The latest book you read? "Ms Alabama et ses petits secrets" by Fanny Flagg. I've given up on trying to learn French with books I'd normally go for in English, and I've started reaching for fun, simple stuff that keeps me engrossed and lets me absorb vocabulary quickly.  

32. What are you currently reading? "And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie, in French. See above? I'm not proud! 

33. The latest TV series you watched? Rick and Mortttyyyyy

34. The last person you talked to? I am going to say my employer. 

35. This is getting exhausting. This was way more fun when I was 13. 

36. Your favourite food? Anything and everything seafood that isn't fish: oysters, clams, lobster, scallops, etc. etc. etc.

And also, once upon a time, lamb over rice. But I can never go back to my favorite place in New York since I gave the cart owner a very awkward goodbye hug, so it's better if we just never talk about it and I try to forget about lamb over rice and construct a life without it. :( 

37. Places you want to visit? Croatia and Russia and Norway and more of Switzerland and Italy and Copenhagen but only because Scandinavia is so hot right now. 

38. The last place you visited? I guess, technically, Buffalo is the last place I visited. The idea of visiting the place where you grew up is incredibly bizarre. 

39. Are you currently sweet on someone? You know, I'm not, but I wouldn't mind. I really enjoy having crushes. I think they're a lot of fun. 

40. The last person you kissed? This morning I had to get up at like 6 am, which is so early for me that I might as well have not slept at all, and on my way out I ran into the cat that lives in my courtyard. We obviously know and love each other, so he ran over to me and I picked him up and he got a big kiss on his little forehead because, listen, 6 am is shit and the little dude turned it right around for me.

41. The last insult you were told? Someone called me pretentious, and I was being pretty pretentious, so, you know. 

42. Your favourite candy flavour? All about that Sourpatch Watermelon. In France, Sour Patch Kids are called Very Bad Kids and I don't know, I just really appreciate that. 

43. Do you play an instrument? I can make my way around a guitar, a drumset, and a piano; but not like, really. I started classical guitar when I was 6 and I can play it the way you speak a language you only heard until you were 5 - I can do it, but without any conscious control. 

44. Your favourite piece of jewelry? I wear my mom's engagement ring on my pinky finger - it's not really sentimental to me, but I really love the simple aesthetic, and I reeeeally love twisting it around my finger as a nervous habit. 

45. The last sport session you practiced? Hahahahahahahahaha

46. The latest song you sang? "Semi Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind. A ten year old very politely asked me to stop. 

47. Your favourite catch phrase? Is that a catchphrase or epilepsy? 

48. Okay I'm really, really over this now. 

49. Your last evening out? I went to a party and then some communist biker bar in Belleville and then I helped a drunk friend home really early. Nothing super exciting, but I definitely want to go back to that bar. 

50. Are you going to start regularly publishing quality, well-written, thoughtful essays now? Probably not. 

A Materialist Minimalism

The last, extremely satisfying time I threw out 90% of my shit. That's an extremely poorly-printed Corsican flag, before you ask. 

One of my favorite thought experiments is pairing my life down into a single suitcase, the allowable size dependent on how escapist the underlying nature of the fantasy is. Usually I get the suitcase I take back to Buffalo for Christmas breaks, which is large and green and half my height. Other times, I've been going black carry-on. And for the constant stream of self-pitying expletives that come out of my mouth when I'm actually packing, I fucking love it. You know I do. Any chance to pare down my possessions into a mobile singularity just gets me super fucking excited. But it's not because I consider myself above material things. You can't bestow shit with the power of definition and not be incredibly material. 

There's a lot of talk about minimalism lately, the most popular being this philosophy of organization and, by extension, life - that we should surround ourselves with only things that either 1) serve an express purpose and/or 2) make us happy. It's an anecdote for a generation overwhelmed by accumulated consumption; I think the target audience are people with shit in their closets they haven't touched in years. (And by the way, I envy you people. I have to go buy a new button-front jean skirt so I can copy Man Repeller, yours is probably still kicking from 2001.)

I'm very pro-minimalism - I am very pro-"do what makes you happy" when it comes to most things, and from their popularity, minimalist organizational philosophies do seem very effective at that indeed. But I'm not a minimalist, I've never called myself a minimalist - first of all, because I really like to buy things; secondly, because I do not possess any real self-restraint nor ability to commit to an idea and I am simultaneously slightly jealous and wary of those who do. 

But what I do really like - and will happily appropriate from this philosophy - is the idea of only having a few things and having those things mean very much. Like, part two of the escapist fantasy is actually taking that suitcase and starting over somewhere, and what are the things I would take to start a new life? For me that involves function - black jeans, white tee, leather jacket, duh - and a certain degree of sentimentality. There are two material objects in this world that I'd bring - a necklace, and a hand-drawn map - and from there, it's anyone's guess. The idea is to choose from as few things as possible, and have those things be very specific and endowed with meaning and curated

This started with gallery walls - I was writing an article about the art of curating one, the art of choosing pieces that were endowed with meaning, rather than just there to look good or whatever. Ideally, they'd be both. And I started thinking a lot about what I'd put on mine, calling to mind that old neighbor couple that everyone has, the one with all the African masks and old books stacked in corners and weird art on their living room walls; all of it would be collected over 50 years and be kind of musty but cool as fuck. So like, if I had to go through my life and pick the very specific objects that would end up on the metaphorical gallery wall of my life, as it were, what would they be? 

The act of curation - the act self-definition with objects - suggests to me that it's possible to have a minimalism that's separate from consumption but not necessarily from materialism, that by trying to narrow down our things and being specific about what we own, we're opening ourselves up to the possibility of putting more thought into them than we ever were before. If the implied act of self-definition isn't necessarily literal - I can't say I'd suddenly be lost, or a different person, or maybe anything beyond temporarily disappointed if even my most treasured items disappeared - you can't escape the underlying logic: by choosing only objects that make us happy, we're giving objects the power to make us happy. To say who we are. To tell our stories. I think on some levels, unbridled consumption and accumulation is the real anti-materialism - freedom from all of our shit, because who gives a shit? 

We hear a lot about minimalism in wardrobe philosophies, and I think I've argued a few times before that although I don't follow one myself, I'm fully behind minimalist wardrobe philosophies for a few reasons - the environmental impact, the financial impact, the way an edited wardrobe tends to be more consistent and cohesive - but I don't argue that they make us any less materialistic and think any less about our clothing. On a very practical level, I put approximately 500% more thought into the care and keeping of a particular sentimental (and expensive) shirt than I do one of my 4353 $5 men's Uniqlo t-shirts (except, of course, when they're new and so white and aaaaaaahhhh perfect). So I'm not suggesting that minimalism isn't without value and place, just that it's not automatically freeing in a way that we'd like to imagine. 

Of course, there's the possibility of function without sentimentality, of objects without meaning. In my escapist fantasies, there have certainly been scenarios in which I run away with a winter coat, and jeans, and a single pan and plate and fork and knife. All objects easily replaced, the most necessary functions, a Swiss military-issued life. You could leave all of it in a city somewhere and replace it the next day somewhere else. Start over with fresh things, even if you can't start over as a fresh person. Does true minimalism mean a lack of sentimentality? Of objects without meaning and history? Letting only function and necessity dictate what we possess? 

There's a part of me that wonders if that's possible for me. I was born nostalgic, born sentimental; a facet of my personality that's constantly at war with an equally powerful inner-vagabond. I really like to imagine that it's possible for me to leave my shit and run away, but know thyself. I'd keep that one pair of jeans I wore that one time to that one party; at least until I'd moved on to a version of myself so different that it didn't matter anymore. My mother tells me that as a child, I carried a backpack filled with my favorite toys everywhere, just in case. That obviously hasn't changed. There's an implied freedom of movement, of Boy Scout-esque preparedness. It's just my self that I'm packing up and taking with me.  If that excludes me from indulging in some true minimalism, so be it. I'll be over here, thinking about my stuff. 

So in sum, there's something weirdly appealing to me about creating some sort of very mobile physical expression of self. On some level that involves a very edited vision, and by necessity placing what is probably undue thought and value onto material objects. On the other hand; there's something weirdly appealing about arriving at the end of life with nothing at all besides memories, to surround myself only with the absolutely necessary. But ultimately, I don't think that having fewer things automatically grants us freedom from those things - very often, quite the contrary. 

When it comes to editing the objects in our lives - and most particularly, our wardrobes - I think the ideal balance probably strikes somewhere around "Just do whatever the fuck makes you happy." Acknowledge the power that objects have to make us happy, the inherent materialism that shapes our lives and our existences - after all, even the most functional of objects demand a relationship (if your knife doesn't work very well, I doubt it will be very pleasing to you). But also acknowledge their ephemerality, the transitive nature of life and property. What makes us will change, both physically and emotionally.