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Gulf Shore Boulevard

    DESIGN, Interior Design

    AERIN’s Effortless Style. Literally.

    I had the pleasure of attending a personal appearance by Aerin Lauder, founder of AERIN,  a global luxury lifestyle sub-brand of the esteemed Estee Lauder powerhouse, last week at Clive Daniel HOME, here in Naples.

    I must admit, on the drive there I was still crossing my fingers this appearance wouldn’t be some strange rendition of Avenue Q  – where someone’s hand is up Aerin’s derrière, making her lips move with all the right brand-speak, proving she is nothing more than a mere placard for a super brand trying to cash in on its heir.

    Aerin Lauder

    Immediate left:  Aerin Lauder, Founder of AERIN | Photo Courtesy of Clive Daniel HOME, via Zee Anna Photography

    In researching the World of AERIN’s design philosophy before attending, I became drunk with consuming in access all “effortless beautiful living” has to offer – stunning photographs of modelesque homes, men and women, $3,735 golden side tables, lavish musks, costume jewelry and eyewear – I could barely keep from slurring my words.

    As I kept drinking it all in, the veteran marketer in me started to step in, throw me in a cold shower and sober me up. As I surfed from page to page, I saw AERIN the brand in literal physical form, but where was Aerin the interior designer, fashion trend setter, entrepreneur, creator? That part of AERIN the brand and Aerin the founder, was – in all efforts – missing.

    I wanted to learn her thought processes when curating her furniture pieces, her inspirations when creating her different product lines, where she studied design, and the details of each furniture piece. There was nothing. There was no effort given in telling AERIN’s story as an artist, overall brand or history-rich heir.  To be a successful marketer, it’s all about storytelling – creating narrative around your products to give them life, appeal and status; AERIN’s strive for effortless living has indeed created an air of lack of effort.

    It was disappointing to me as a designer, marketer and consumer to realize I had had beer goggles on while falling in love with the World of AERIN.  Unfortunately, my disappointment grew worse.  As I viewed each product under Furnishings, I was astonished to discover there was no information listed about the origin, details or designer. How can AERIN expect consumers to pay in upwards of $10,000 for a single piece without knowing any sort of provenance?

    AERIN Home Furnishings

    AERIN showroom floor | Clive Daniel HOME, Naples, Florida

    What was even more disappointing you may ask? To hear her unable to answer the question, “Where is your furniture manufactured?” at the event.  Aerin, in true lack-of-effort style, had to refer to another AERIN executive next to her for the information. Heavy sigh.

    Don’t get me wrong, Aerin seemed lovely, gracious and kind; after my research and attendance, I simply lack respect for her position at AERIN. For me, especially as both a business owner and professor, do your homework, know your product, and at least pretend to be the driving force behind the company you allegedly founded.  Whether you are indeed the roll-up-your-sleeves, hands-on founder or mere 16-million-share-holder marionette – make the effort – be professional.

    IMAGINATION, Life of Josie M.

    Setting. Development. Resolution.

    Life of Josie M

    I could hear the inner wheels of Henry’s mind grinding as he lay silently next to me, both of us facing opposite directions with only the smalls of our backs touching.
    I sat up holding the comforter up to my chest as if to shield me from the vulnerability ahead. I turned and spoke to his back, “I knew this would happen the minute I saw the back of your head.”
    He picked up his head and rested his chin on his shoulder. “What?”
    “Well, actually… I knew this would happen when I first saw your back…in your fabulously sexy, dark-navy suit with the silver pinstripes…then I saw the back of your head. But, still, I knew.”
    Still confused, Henry now swiveled his body counter-clockwise to lie facing me on his side. “You knew what?…From what…my head? All I heard was you think I’m fabulously sexy,” he let the last word trail off slowly like he used to do while teaching, using sarcasm to get his point across, only this time, it was  seductive, luring me back down next to him.
    I let go of my death grip on the comforter and slid back down on my side  into his open arms and nestled up close to his chest. We were now looking into each other’s eyes.
    “When I walked into Albert Hall, while I was focused on finding Room Six, you were hunched over at the water bubbler. I couldn’t help but say to myself, ‘Wow. Who is this with the phenomenal taste? He’s a student here?’ You then stood up straight and walked into the next room. I only saw the back of you head. But, I knew. The salt-and-pepper hair was a dead giveaway.”
    As he kissed my forehead, he muttered, “I still have no idea what you are talking about. Are you calling me fabulously sexy again?”


    Eventually, we had to pull ourselves away from each other and the seclusion of my bedroom as it was Monday morning and we both had classes to teach.  As Henry showered, I got up and started the coffee.
    “Ugh. Rain again,” I muttered to myself as I opened the window blinds. Opening the blinds was painful, not because of the light hitting my un-ready pupils, but because I felt each one of those horizontal lines of light shattering the cocoon the weekend in bed had just built around me and Henry.
    Reality was rearing its’ ugly head with the possibility for sheer and utter disappointment when Henry leaves, as he had not responded to any of my feeble attempts to convey the true breadth and depth of my feelings. I had tried several times during the course of the past two days to gather the thoughts, feelings and emotions rushing through me for the past year into what needed to be the perfect combination of words to tell to this man, the most wonderful man I had ever met, I was in love with him.
    I could still hear the shower running. I started to prepare myself for the worst. I started running scenarios of our departure through my head.
    “Thanks for an amazing weekend. But…I’ve already told you…I’m happy in my current situation…”
    “East or west coast?”
    Henry startled me. While I was preparing myself for the dreaded “You’re a Great Friend” speech staring out the window, he had gotten out of the shower, gotten dressed and poured our coffee. He was standing at the edge of the kitchen holding in one hand my “I ‘heart’ LA” mug and in the other, my “I ‘heart’ New York” mug.
    “LA or New York,” he clarified.
    “Oh…New York, please. Thank you.”


    I stood frozen in anticipation as I watched Henry gather his belongings from around the apartment. I was still in my bathrobe, still gripping my “I ‘heart’ NY” mug and still unable to breathe.
    “Well…” Again, his words rolled off his tongue with great seduction.
    We were now walking towards each other. When Henry reached me, he took the mug out of my hand, placed it down and began kissing my neck.
    “Stunning, sexy, and irresistible,” he kept kissing me as he spoke.
    “What?” My mind was preoccupied with his lips, not conversation.
    “Turquoise, strappy high heels and your refute of Georg Hegel’s theory of the Absolute.”
    “What?” I repeated, still preoccupied.
    “That’s when I knew I had fallen in love with you.”



    IMAGINATION, Life of Josie M.

    Rule no. 42: Destiny is not always destined.

    Life of Josie M.

    And then, there was Ian.

    Our introduction was kinetic. I still can feel the energy, the tingles, which ran from my hands down to my toes, of our first meeting years ago.

    He was thirteen years my senior, an Amherst College scholar, a brilliant writer, and his salt-and-pepper hair made his presence insatiable.

    Two years passed, enduring brief and intemittent meetings. And then, he emailed me. 

    Ian expressed he wanted to meet me out for coffee, he needed to speak to me. His email was short and to the point, making his message seem all the more urgent. The next day, we meet at a small, quintessential bookstore turned coffee house.

    As I sipped my coffee, the impossible, the unbelievable, the never-happens-to-me happened to me.  This man, whom I have been intoxicated with for the past two years by mere hair and wit, announced he was ending his unsuccessful marriage of ten years to feel alive again, feel companionship again, feel romance again – because he had met me.

    This was the impossible, the unbelievable, the never-happens-to-me because up until this point, we had never dated, never had unscrupulous, secret encounters (not counting the many in my mind). We had been friends. That’s it.

    Six years and one hell of a romance later, nothing makes you feel more like a toaster, than being told he was leaving for another woman.


    As kinetic as our meeting was, I was in denial of the looming end.
    Destiny is not always fate, but fate is often destiny.

    Yes, the impossible, the unbelievable, the never-happens-to-me happened to me
    with a man I was intoxicated with by mere hair and wit for years previous,
    however, I denied the fact intoxication evitably leads to a long, slow death by poisoning of the soul.

    His once insatiable presence is now mere memory.
    Our brief and intermittent meetings turned long, romantic weekends reading in bed, are now gone.


    Sex, drugs and nakedness. Did I mention I was with my parents?

    Hair the Musical

    Not living far from New York City, to celebrate my birthday, my parents announced we would take the train in and they would treat me to day of shopping, a matinee and dinner with close friends in the Big Apple.

    Being avid travelers, my parents always amaze me with their savvy and worldly knowledge.

    STEP DAD:     “You know…I think they have a bathroom on these trains.”
    MOM:               “We sit backwards?”

    After enduring a non-express Metro-North Line train ride into Grand Central, we then endured yet another non-express line – the ticket line in Times Square.

    For those of you who know – and for those of you who don’t know – there is a TKTS ticket booth in Times Square  where would-be show-goers can purchase matinee (and some night shows) at a discounted price. Since it was my birthday, my parents advised me to pick the show of my choice – they also advised me they wanted to see a musical.

    As the line dwindled and we neared the ticket window, so did our show options — we were down to Shrek, Mary Poppins and HAIR. Shrek – a singing, flatulent ogre…um, no thanks; Mary Poppins – been there, done that; so, that left….HAIR.  I faintly remember listening to my parents’ HAIR album (yes, 33LP record) growing up and knew the premise… how bad could HAIR be?

    Sex, drugs and nakedness. Yup.  Did I mention I was with my parents? Even as a full-grown adult, one never outgrows AWKWARD.

    I understand this play was a radical social commentary of the late 1960s, I get it. I understand the naked protest is just that – a protest. I get it. The cast was uber-talented. I am not debating that. I know this particular revival won the 2009 Tony Award for the Best Revival on Broadway that very week. I am not debating that either.

    What I am saying is, by intermission, I was ready to throw the Kumbaya towel in.  I am just not a flower child, thus, the 33 songs which comprise HAIR – and trust me, all 33 were performed – put me over the mother-loving, hallucinogenic, orgy edge. I am a child of the 1970s, by then, the hippies were fading and The Partridge Family was taking over the sit-ins. Donnie and Marie were stars – clean cut and as white bread as you can get. No LSD for them.

    The only thing close to HAIR when I was a teenager were – the glam rocker bands – POISON (who, incidentally, where at the Tony Awards that year as well, you know, when douchebag lead singer, Brett Michaels had a run in with the stage – in case you missed it —

    HAIR The Musical

    Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Stryper, etc. The hair was there, but the radical social commentary for these guys was showing off how many groupies they could fit backstage and they were burning hotel rooms down, not draft cards.

    At curtain’s close, my mother felt the same as she did close to forty years ago when seeing HAIR in London, “It’s still as radical now as it was back then;” my step father agreed and remembered seeing the play in New York shortly after its debut – and still likes the nudity *wink*, and I…I was glad to leave (sorry, HAIR) – with a new appreciation for the play, actors and, of course, our freedom.

    * * * * *

    HAIR:  The Musical
    2009 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical Revival
    I saw HAIR at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th Street, New York, NY 10036

    IMAGINATION, Life of Josie M.

    Dear Deepak Chopra, I feel a tantrum coming on.

    Life of Josie M.

    My life caught up with me this week; indeed, the fire-starters may have been hormonally ignited, but that’s besides the point.

    As the week begins to wrap up, I feel as if I could throw an old-school, temper tantrum as if back in the day of being four-years old. I feel the only way to shake the pit this week has left in my stomach is to pitch a fit of crying it out, while screaming and tugging on my hair, stomping on the floor with both feet at the same time, ending with a grand finale of kicking the wall.

    Anytime I get a stomach pit, I know I need to re-focus, however, this yearning to kick-it old school, literally, was a red flag warning me I was in need of a spiritual overhaul. I needed to meet with the one man I consider one of New England’s top spiritual advisors – the pizza man down the street. Actually, The Pizza Guy down the street. I needed guidance immediately, so I picked up the phone to schedule an appointment. I ordered a veggie wrap.

    **HISTORICAL FLASHBACK:  I do not cook. If I do, I make sure the recipe does not require more than one pan, thus, I order out a ton.  Through a variety of wraps and personal-size pizzas,  I have come to know The Pizza Guy’s owner, Bobby.  Over the course of the past two years, while waiting for my orders, we have discussed a multitude of topics, especially the spiritual and universal laws of the universe – and success. There have been occasions when Bobby suggests I read a certain book and after I telling him I finished it, he invites me to sit in the kitchen to eat and discuss what I have read.**

    As I walked in the pizza shop, Bobby looked up and with one eyebrow raised said, “Ahh…I see you are fighting the universe again. Come back and eat. We will talk.”  I followed him to the kitchen table hidden behind the enormous brick oven and sat down at the table. He placed my wrap down in front of me and proceeded to pull Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success down from what had to be three dozen or so recipe books high up on the shelf above the prep counter.

    “Here,” he opened the book and handed it to me, “read this chapter and I will be back.”

    The book, a hard cover showing signs of frequent use with dog-eared pages, bookmarks and torn jacket cover, was opened to the fourth chapter, “The Law of Least Effect”. “Ah, fighting the universe,” I said to myself while thumbing to the next page.

    As I read the chapter, I came to a page with highlighting. “Any time your encounter resistance, recognize that if you force the situation, the resistance will only increase. You don’t want to stand rigid like a tall oak that cracks and collapses in the storm. Instead, you want to be flexible, like a reed that bends with the storm and survives…When you remain open to all points of view – not rigidly attached to only one – your dreams and desires will flow with nature’s desires. Then you can release your intentions, without attachment, and just wait for the appropriate season for your desires to blossom into reality.”

    I released a heavy sigh and then bit into my now luke-warm wrap. My Italian yogi, in his trattoria Ashram, had once again, instantly calmed my soul.

    Bobby was right, throwing the tantrum I was dreaming about would only make my frustration worse. I needed to stay within the present moment and welcome the new adventures which lay ahead of me.

    As I was half way through my wrap, Bobby returned. He didn’t say anything as he stopped and looked at me. “Ahhh, Bella, I am glad to see you stepped out of the ring. Boxing is hard work,” he said as he smiled and tapped me on the head. “Now, let me get you some gelato to sooth the wounds of your soul.”

    Ah, divinity.

    IMAGINATION, Life of Josie M.

    Burning questions. And my answers.

    Life of Josie M.

    “In my travels through the blogosphere, I stumbled across a blog presenting questions from the book, Pirates of Pensacola (Chapters 27-31), by  Keith Thomson. The questions intrigued, so here are my answers…

    1) I was a complete chicken as a child, but Polly found that warnings of a sea monster,
    intended to keep the kids close to home, just made her want to explore even more.
    Were you ever given a warning that backfired, making you have a stonger desire to do that which was warned against?

    Yes. Men.

    2) What was the sea monster’s name?


    3) Polly lives for the pursuit of adventure; Morgan, in pursuit of stability; Isaac, in pursuit of gold. What do you live in pursuit of?

     I live in the pursuit of the mere thought of serving my secret crush breakfast in bed in Paris – or Tokyo.

    4) What’s the strangest way or place that you’ve begun a relationship?

     Fifth-row center at a Barbara Streisand concert.

    5)”Single-stick” and “head bumping” sound like interesting sports to watch, although I’m partial to the Caber Toss myself. What’s your favorite sport to watch?

    Um, what?

    6) What’s the oddest item you’ve bought at auction?

     I tried to win, “Can you see MC Hammer’s face in my slice of bread?” on eBay, but…heavy sigh, I got out-bid.

    7) What’s your weakness?

       Yes. Men.

    8) Describe your arch-enemy.

    My arch-enemy profile would look like the following:

    Car:           Mini-van.
    Hobby:      Scrapbooks everything down to her bowel movements, God-forbid she reads a book.
    Husband:   First guy to wave a shiny object.
    Kids:          Unruley.
    Career:      Please see Hobby.
    Other interests:   Probably shops at DEB.
    Motto:  Please see Hobby.

    Car:       Porsche or BMW, most likely both.
    Hobby:  Looking at himself in the mirror; applying his skin care products; buying his $2000 suits.
    Wife:     At first, says it should be me, but then breaks up with me and marries the next skank,
    I mean girl, that comes along.
    Kids:      Whatever.
    Career:  Of course, uber-successful lawyer, real estate broker, or rock star.
    Other interests:   Buys me a coffee mug for Valentine’s Day.
    Philosophy:         Man-boys are like eggs, they either hatch and mature – or spoil.

    * * * * * * * * *

    What would your answers be?

    Life of Josie M.

    “By the sea, beneath the yellow and sagging moon…” Walt Whitman

    Walt Whitman Yellow Moon

    A single girl stood contemplating her life while the ocean beneath her crashed at her feet.
    The wind through her hair was like the myriad of thoughts wafting through her mind.
    The smell of the salt air was calming; she had missed the smell of home.
    The subtle chill of the night air was a harsh reminder of the unknown.
    Would sunrise bring enlightenment or more moonlight alone?