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LIVING MY GAP YEAR

Filtering by Tag: Autumn

The Sun Also Rises

Zuzu Tadeushuk

Night of Paris Terrorist Attacks

On a Friday evening when we were fretting about our weekend plans or what to wear to dinner tonight, the news of a series of terrorist attacks on Paris came as a shocking and grave reminder of the inconstancy of fortune and the thin, thin thread life hangs from. Not since 2001 has so large an attack struck so close to home, both literally and figuratively, and we can only pray that this is something we may never have to see again. It is beyond frightening to witness what human beings are capable of doing to each other. But as the City of Lights' darling Hemingway would have desired us to remember..."the sun also rises." Thinking of Paris, with love- Zuzu.

Public Schoolers and Princesses

Zuzu Tadeushuk

My Introduction to Dubai

The cat-food-beige carpeting of my hotel room floor is damp. It wets the bottoms of my bony feet when I enter and banish my germ-ified airplane socks to the irrevocable exile that is my laundry bag, forcing me to take refuge on my bed. At least it is dry. I sit crosslegged on the white duvet and survey my surroundings. All pretty standard: a tv; a coffee table spread with pamphlets of attractions here in Dubai (a city whose futuristic architecture has quite impressed me, but whose sprawling inaccessibility and commercial corniness have not); one large, dirt-streaked window looking out at a facade of similar dirt-streaked windows with a close, hazy, sandstorm sky behind it; a nightstand occupied by a single black card bearing a slightly disconcerting message on it all in caps: WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

Straight off the plane this morning I went to my fitting for Public School, the brand that has brought me here for their pre-fall fashion show. And who should walk into the fitting room while I was standing half naked with one person measuring the width of some black drop-crotch pants on my waist and another unlacing my boxy leather boots? None other than the princess of Dubai herself. With warm honest eyes, she was young, pretty, and talkative, speaking english as naturally as a Jersey housewife (and with the same accent, too)! She wore plenty of makeup and was dressed head to toe in a flowing black wrap that resembled a burka but was more modern, made of chiffon and flaunting a hot pink hemline. Like me, you may wonder what a princess and all her entourage were doing at the makeshift office of a young and contemporary New York brand in a hotel on the outskirts of Dubai. But it is really quite simple: she came because she is a faithful client of theirs and is unable to attend the actual show tomorrow due to customs barring her from having her picture taken, or so I was told. Instead she had shown up to preview the collection privately, try some pieces on, make a few purchases on the spot, and even get a personalized mini runway show featuring pieces that she selected and which were worn by me, two other models, and the her humorous middle-aged cousin who had asked us to tutor her in "the walk."  We all got dressed in the chosen looks, the designers turned on the show music, and in a row we walked up and down the length of the dressing room with the royal cousin tagging along behind and the royal audience watching delightedly from the side, their royal iPhones poised for action.

After my fitting/debut as runway-coach, I at last came here, to my hotel room with its distinct carpeting. But despite of the musty smell my floor puts off and a pervasive lack of sleep pooling behind my eyes, there’s no place I’d rather be right now. Who else can say they flew around the globe and met a princess all in one day— and all in the name of work, too! I flop onto my pillow. And there’s that sign again, staring me in the face… “What are you thinking?” Well, let’s see: Right nowI’m thinking I’m ready for a good long nap. I’m thinking I might have to wear flip flops in this room. I’m thinking of getting my laptop and writing a bit, and of what a joy it is to be traveling once more. I’m thinking that gap years are brilliant. 

Public School Pre-Fall Show 

Family first

Zuzu Tadeushuk

Our Unusual Halloween

This year when decorating our house for the Halloween season, my mom and I thought we might change things up a bit: rather than pulling out our usual fake cobwebs and gaudy little scarecrows mounted on sticks and missing various limbs (my brother and I were in the inconsiderate habit of using them as swords during our play-battles of yore), we instead arranged a small altar of sorts to commemorate our dead relatives. This may at first seem unrelated to the consumer-driven, sugar-centric holiday we know today (like what even is halloween without candy and witches and scarecrows after all?), but it is actually quite fitting. What few people realize is that Halloween is a popularized segment of an ancient tradition, at once both pagan and Christian, of honoring spirits that have passed away. The entirety of this tradition actually consists of three days: All Hallow’s Eve (which represents the spirit’s leaving behind its earthly body, and occurs on October 31); All Saints’ Day (which represents the spirit’s atoning for the injuries it dealt others during its life, and falls on November 1); and All Souls' Day (which represents the spirit’s final departure to an other realm and falls on November 2; today). So, harking back to this age-old trinity of remembrance, we created this motley collection of photographs and memorabilia, a little something apprês the ornate shrines of the Mexican “Day of the Dead,” which also happens to fall during the same three days:

Now for a brief tour of this heap of dead plants and vintage prints: 

Sheila and Victor

1) Here you see my maternal grandparents: Victor and Sheila. They made quite a motley pair— he was sentimental and humorous, she practical and serious; he sang opera, she worked the garden; he favored philosophy, she ecology; he stayed up late drinking scotch and playing piano while she walked the dogs and went to bed at seven. How these two managed to live together harmoniously all their lives beats me, but they did, and apparently quite well: my grandmother told me that during all their years of marriage they only ever had one fight— during which she hurled a wineglass at my grandfather, missed her mark, and wound up on the floor crying with laughter.

Evelyn and Paul

2) And here is my other pair of grandparents, Evelyn and Paul, who were a similarly disparate set of characters (except in this case their roles were swapped: He was the war veteran and stoic man-of-few-words from slavic stock, and she the 1950’s housewife—and Italian, to boot!— who was quite loquacious and merry, and whose primary interest was in cooking large homemade meals and getting them into the stomaches of whoever happened to be nearest by). I believe these two, however, got through their various differences by simply ignoring them and avoiding conflict, contrary to my other grandparents (for I wouldn’t call throwing wine goblets exactly conflict evasion)!

3)The the rest of this jungle is comprised of items that were significant to each of the four individuals: an old minolta camera for Victor, Sheila's favorite novel Green Mansions, a fishing lure for Paul, and an embroidered cross for the devout Evelyn. 

To my dear albeit dead grandparents- I continue to love and think of you still. With sincerest wishes for a Happy All Souls Day (and other two days, as well!)-- from one bungled spirit to another.

A Curiosity Satisfied: the Angel Edition

Zuzu Tadeushuk

My Brief (and Bemusing) Encounter with Victoria's Secret

I’m generally a serious person, and not always the most responsive recipient of jokes— many a punchline has left me wondering. But there was one genuine knee-slapper I happened upon the other day—or rather that happened upon ME— whose knee-slapperly-ness was so striking even I couldn't miss it: and that was a request for me to try out for a certain illustrious runway show by none other than the certainly illustrious Victoria’s Secret! Now, for those of you who don't know, the annual VS Fashion Show is a huge event, possibly the biggest of the fashion calendar from a model’s perspective, and I hear walking in the show can "make" a girl’s career. So trying out for it sounds all fine and dandy, but there's just one hitch: I’m not what you’d call generously endowed when it comes to the bosom department.

That I found myself confronted with the vague possibility of walking the most publicized catwalk of the year in nothing but a pushup and underwear- and a pair of “angel” wings, perhaps- is poignantly ironic (unless they're debuting a new line for preteens?) It is so ironic, in fact, that I almost didn’t go, nearly waved it off as an April fool’s joke arrived six months early… This course of action seemed especially tempting to me because the Victoria’s secret persona is so contradictory to my own character that I would have been happy for a reason to avoid the casting, and the fact that they weren’t likely to hire me no matter what I did (short of plastic surgery) seemed like a pretty good reason. But I resisted this inherent urge to flee, and I did go to the casting— if only to be able to tell you about it after...

So. The two most important things to know before attending a VS casting? First of all: the walk. The Victoria’s secret walk is no ordinary walk: it is a far cry from the boyish, fierce, and sometimes even sullen march of the high fashion shows I’ve experienced. Rather, the Victoria’s Secret walk is posey, prancey, playful, and, of course, sexy. The Victoria’s Secret walk involves flirting and waving and kiss-blowing and hip-swinging. The Victoria’s secret walk is the farthest from a Zuzu sort of walk you can possibly get (except for perhaps a sumo wrestler’s walk)! And so it required some practice. I watched videos on youtube and got tips from my agents (tips that involved them having a great time demonstrating the strut with me following gawkily behind)!

The second- and best- part of the VS persona is the smiling. Unlike any other runway I know, the VS fashion show not only allows smiling on the catwalk, but requires it! It makes for a refreshing variation when you’ve just spent a month sporting the Ready-to-Wear scowl.

When the anticipated Monday finally arrived of the grand Victoria’s Secret casting, I stepped into the VS headquarters to find it lined with large black-and-white lingerie posters, billowy gauze curtains of the sort you see in perfume commercials, and models waiting to be conducted into the inner sanctum where their angel/no-angel fates would be determined. But when my turn came, I found the meeting to be, after my highly-hyped preparation, somewhat flat (hah… speaking of flat)! What I mean is, it wasn’t quite as intimidating as I expected it to be, and it wasn't all as challenging either. I walked into that small, plain reception chamber (dauntingly referred to as The Room) half expecting to be confronted by a vast panel of VS royalty stroking their chins as they silently observed and appraised me, but instead found only three people within: three important people, to be sure, but three nonetheless. Once inside, the casting was quick and followed standard casting procedure (only this one was carried out entirely in lingerie). One at a time, each model strutted up and down the length of The Room, posed for some digitals, and left feeling relieved (believe me, I was not the only girl nervous to be there! I actually found that I was less nervous than my peers, as I felt pretty certain I had negative percent chance of booking the thing, while they still had excruciating room for hope).

Though the actual meeting may have lasted less than three minutes, and though I have since been proven correct in assuming they wouldn’t hire me, I am glad I went because the whole extravaganza reminded me that personality is a malleable thing and limitations are liquid— that it is possible for me to embody once again something I may not feel compatible with (in this case blowing kisses at relative strangers) and come out having expanded my knowledge of myself on some small front, in some small way. When I finished the casting, I went and took a cookie- naturally- from the plate of them in the lobby that not a single other model had touched (um, they cause stomach bloating, didn’t you know?) and boarded a bus for sunset suburbia, notebook already in hand!

With Noel and Melissa at VS