The Soviet-Era Ribs Records I found In My Grandparents' House


I am currently in the process of clearing out my grandparents’ house, which is the house my mom was raised in, in Buffalo. 

If you are interested in Soviet music history, or resistance practices in general, you may already be familiar with the advent of “ribs” or black market records that were etched into discarded X-Rays in the Soviet Union starting in the 1940s or 1950s. When music was heavily regulated by the Kremlin, banned music or sound recordings were lathed by hand onto the plastic X-Ray prints by underground practitioners. The readily available plastic was cheap (trash), and the process of etching was cumbersome, but doable- albeit at the expense of being imprisoned if caught:

“Russian rock journalist Artemy Troitsky explains of the process that record printers up-cycled old phonograph machines to create their own crudely constructed record lathes.
X-rays were cut into 7-inch discs, grooved at 78RPM, and spindled using the end of a lit cigarette.” (via)

Though these are not X-Rays, but rather what appear to be photograph enlargements, these discs are undoubtedly part of the same underground music practice. I found these in my grandparents’ effects this past week, nestled and protected from dust in a midcentury record console. My grandparents were both survivors of Nazi forced farming labor in WWII. After marrying in a refugee camp, they moved to Canada and eventually the U.S. where they raised two kids, worked at a Ford plant, started a small catering business, and maintained a garden in their backyard where they would eventually build a swing for me, their only grandchild, on the strongest limb of their cherry tree.

I never knew my grandparents Iwan and Maria very well, but they were kind and nourishing even through a profound language barrier. Finding these delicately crafted pieces of resistance gives me a small glimpse into the world they came from, and their survival.



Mother's Day 2023


My mom was approved for a senior living apartment last month and I could have passed out from relief. The only furnishing she has in the living room is an antique chair shrouded in a sheet. Today we took out her collection of brooches acquired from thrift stores, antique stores, garage sales, etc, and decorated the chair before putting them all back in the jewelry box.



The Safety Blanket


Vintage Tee
Stella McCartney vest...thing
Vintage wool cardigan via Graceland
Theyskens' Theory bag
Margiela pants
Ann Demeulemeester boots
Vintage sunglasses

I was in a fugue state when I packed for Buffalo.  It's like, a 45 minute plane ride from NYC, but the weather is quite, quite different. Buffalo is, as you'd expect, quite cold, and DRY. If there is any trace of a breeze, it cuts through you like a knife.

The thing about this asymmetric top from Stella McCartney is that it can be thrown over my lap like a blanket if I'm a wee bit chilly, so on the surface this item that feels a little silly and non-functional ended up being quite useful for windy walks and leisurely lounging. Call it grandpa chic with this cardigan, or perhaps more fittingly: a portable safety blanket.



The Story of Our Reunion


On October 18th, 2022 I got a phone call from an emergency psychiatric hospital in Buffalo. The social worker on the other end told me that my mom had been admitted to the hospital, and they were desperately trying to reach anyone who could help them understand where this woman who shared my last name was coming from. After 10 years of estrangement through circumstance, I finally heard my mom’s voice again. She had never kept a phone and was lost in the throes of debilitating psychosis for so long. I was unable to see her for years. This time though, her memory prevailed and she was able to remember my phone number to share with the case workers.

Maybe it’s oversharing, but the story of my reunion with my mom has been one of the most harrowing and important developments in my adult life. Between her hospital discharge and today, I managed to get my mom a cell phone and she has been able to slowly figure it out. It feels like a miracle. She’s amazed and delighted by the ability to send text messages and the chance to keep a tiny camera in her pocket.

I wasn't sure I’d see the day where she would be able to regain and maintain the lucidity I had been grieving was lost for so many years. Her bravery, dignity and joie de vivre is so moving it brings me to tears. She explains she’s an optimist because she “was born in the spring”. 
On May 10th, heavens willing, we will celebrate her 68th birthday, at last, together.



Catching Up: Wears/Wares


Observe: 2 years-worth of catching up on the stuff I fill our apartment with and a couple amusing outfits.

Here are some wares\wears


Rachel Comey made these flared fishnet pants. I'm pretty sure I have only ever worn them under dresses, especially in the summer when I wanna wear something that feels fall-adjacent but still has sweet, sweet airflow. Here I paired 'em with a Theyskens' Theory dress that I have own two colors

Know: I loooooooved Theyskens' Theory in college. Between 2010-2014 Olivier Theyskens took the lead designing these über cool, slick and perversely practical city girl-friendly collections under a sub-brand for Theory, and I have a nostalgic thing I can't let go of from clothes from that time. Everything felt sexy and dark.

 This dress is actually two pieces: an a-line shift with a wispy/smoky chiffon overlay, PLUS it has a hidden hoodie pocket under the overlay!! I mean!!!

Jevins surprised me with wall-mounted holders he made for my mezzaluna chopper collection this past year. These marbled enamel pie tin pans are from the late-1800s, sitting on our kitchen butcher block amongst other late-nineteenth century cooking ephemera that I have proudly found in my local thrift stores. The pie tins are good for cheese plate dinners at home.

A dreamy mother of pearl stamp holder that I jumped to buy from Everthine Antiques. I use it to preserve paper bits and collage cutouts,

A Grainne Morton necklace paired with my Bing Bang name plate. I wore these together shortly after my paternal grandmother, Carol, passed away this year. Geist is actually her maiden name, my dad changed it in her honor when he was in college.

Sai made this vase. I love her.

The living room. Always chaos. 
It doesn't look like this right now but this precarious stacking situation somehow didn't fall over for two years.

Grýla tucked underneath a rag quilt <3. 
We have been buying the flower print sheets from Spoonflower for a few years. They're nosebleed expensive but satisfy the look of the "flower bed" we wanted to create for ourselves.

I need more red hangers. When I go to thrift stores I often find and buy the antique hangers that folks overlook. Some of them are handmade or finished by hand! I put special stuff on this red lacquer number when I set things out to wear the night before an event.

Ephemera. An oversized Tom Ford shirt, my favorite denim duster and all kinds of bits 'n bobs jewelry.

God, I love our bathroom. It's my favorite room in our apartment for sure. Shoutout to Glasswing organics, who make the MOST delicious smelling jasmine oil. It's an incredible value for the quality and I stock up on it all the time. 

Obligatory obnoxious tabi photo. I get soles put on special shoes at Cesar's in Chelsea.

I had bleached hair for a hot second when I decided to grow my hair back after shaving it. 
It was a winter wherein I matched my outerwear to the hue of my hair.

My beloved jewel box vanity situation. I'm slowly collecting bottles from Kindred Black along with thrift store/antique porcelain that I have been truly accumulating for years.

Whadya think? 



I'm Tired, So Wanna Pick Up Again


Trip to buffalo, 2021. I found this Janzen bathing suit from the 50's in an antique mall basement for $5. 

I used to type "b" into my browser address field and it would bring up the blogger homepage that I stubbornly keep this thing hosted on. Because in my heart I'm still 15 and this is still 2009 and I'm futzing around the attic with hot lights for some stupid reason to help me pretend I know how to take a photo and set up a camera. Instead I check in with myself, and realize it's not the streets of Buffalo, New York outside my window anymore, where it smells like fireplaces and crispy, cold air. My world doesn't feel small and hopeful, or nearly as romantic as it did when I was a teenager. This happens to everyone, but y'know, now I'm writing about it.

lmao, but I miss her. 
2009, Buffalo

I'm 30 now. I turned 30 this year. 

I have a life I had no idea how I would land when I was a teenager. I pay bills and work a job that is way beyond what I could have comprehended as a child and it humbles me every week (an understatement). I question myself constantly and I'm just as hard on myself now as when I was looking down the barrel of taking the regents exam. I wonder if making money is satisfying enough. I have family members who have died now who I thought would live forever. 

My boyfriend Jevins and I having a discussion in front of "The Meeting" by Fragonard at The Frick last year. I was laid off earlier in March, 2021 after a company downsize and looking back, even though I had some ROUGH patches of professional fear, I think I was happier in some ways then than I am now because I had a break.

I'm a dime a dozen now, which I guess is its own comfort. 

Here's my check-in: 

• I work in tech

• I'm naive but creative

• I'm satisfied by a sense of purpose and "fit" but I kinda lost my way. 

Still, I love trying to understand style anywhere I can, I like talking about why people want to express themselves a certain way. I love what Omondi's doing, her work is the closest thing I have to the feeling I would get after seeing someone shared a new blog post.

another one of my zillions of thrift store finds

Instagram sucks, I loathe TikTok, though I dig through Tumblr and Pinterest still, as this is where I can still fall down holes and remain a dinosaur of internet life comfortably. I miss magazines. I miss the feeling of waiting. I waited. If you are still reading this and had been in a position of waiting, welcome back. I hope I can satisfy something in us.


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