Follow Your Bliss

Blog covering: Love, sex, motherhood, drug addiction, self-worth, body image, feminism, sexual orientation and activism.

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Photo Gallery — Darrah Modeling at Petit Ermitage

IMG_3739I had the joy of seeing an old friend, Toledo, and spending four hours on the rooftop pool of the coolest L.A. hotel, Petit Ermitage. We smoked cigarettes (I know! Le Sigh) and gushed about everything that’s been going on in our lives for the past few years. I just love him. We always seem to get into trouble together. (Proof.)

Old friends are the best! They know you better than anybody, and you have no explaining to do. You can go in and out of seeing each other, and those rhythms are almost expected. The ebbs & flows of friendship. When you do hang out, it’s like no time has passed! He’s such a creative soul. The link to his femme fatale cabaret is at the bottom of this entry.

Anyway, as you can see, we had a lot of fun shooting together once again. These were totally spontaneous and other than a couple filters, I’ve done zero retouching.

***Here’s the fun part: There are even more saucy and too-sexy-to-post images that you can see of Darrah modeling… BUT they’re for Subscribers Only! So, if you sign up for my free e-newsletter called “Darrah’s Club,” you will have the rest of the images made available to you! Below this post, enter your name and email address (we never spam, don’t worry!) and you’ll have the opportunity to salivate at some seriously sexy imagery.

Thanks for being a reader of Follow Your Bliss! Feel free to leave your comments below and Visit Often!

XOXO Darrah
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Photographer: Toledo Diamond
Location: Petit Ermitage

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This Is What Dating An Alcoholic Is Like

Hi friends, my article “This Is What Dating An Alcoholic Is Like” was published in one of the biggest recovery blogs today. I would love it if you would read it and leave comments in their site, as this is my *debut* for The Fix. They had me add a couple paragraphs to the original story, so those that have read this article will have newness. I’m excited about sharing this with the world and I really appreciate your support! Please share this with anybody that it might help. XO ♥ Thanks!

This is What Dating an Alcoholic is Like

By Darrah Le Montre  04/14/16

My attraction to addicts is uncanny—I joke that I can find a room filled with 100 people and instantly be drawn to the ones with a drinking problem.

This is What Dating an Alcoholic is Like

via Darrah Le Montre 

Growing up in a home with an alcoholic parent is a unique kind of rough. As a child, you love this person so intensely and are so dependent on them. Then there’s the inevitable fact that they are emotionally incapable of demonstrating their love in a way that will seep into your bones the way kids need it to. There’s a merry-go-round quality about the systems and functions and habits that occur in an alcoholic home. Soon enough, that merry-go-round becomes a hamster wheel and even after you’ve grown up and moved out, you still run races you’ll never win. And ache for a love deep down in the recesses of your being–in that unfillable void–that you’ll do anything to feel OK and thus you reach out for stuff: people, food, money, status, drugs, anything. Including more alcoholics to love you better.

When I was 18, I moved in with an alcoholic/addict who was verbally abusive and a perpetual cheat. He convinced me I was special and different and I was so desperate to get out of my house, that I shacked up with him and his mother in a two-bedroom apartment in Canoga Park. I was a drug addict and I had recently lost my virginity with him. I was vulnerable in a way that I’ve never been again. I also realized that my asexual tendencies at that time—which resulted from my troubled home-life coupled with sexual orientation shame and simply being a late bloomer—could be quelled by alcohol. I’ve never had a problem with alcohol like I have with drugs, except that I have used it on several occasions as an emotional crutch.

To read the rest of the article, visit THE FIX.

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Saying Goodbye to My Eating Disorder

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Written By: Darrah Belle

Edited By: Megan Granger

When I was eight or nine years old, my mother and older sister were cleaning out the refrigerator when Mom stumbled on a box of éclairs from a deli near our Tarzana house. She called out to me. I bounded into the kitchen and took note of her outstretched hands, the pink box resting atop her lily-white fingers. Those hands gave me everything I needed and many things I didn’t.

“These are old,” she said, in that critical but questioning tone she’d mastered. “Want any?”

The implication was that I should say no.

I said, “Sure!”

What happened next was something I’d never experienced before and certainly wouldn’t again in front of anybody. I started wolfing down the chocolate and cream and wet dough like a hungry savage beast. The more I ate, the less satisfied I felt and the more I sought to fill that insatiable void. My fingers were gooey, my mouth obscured by chocolate icing. I was in a zombielike trance, unaware of the peering eyes burning holes into my wild disembodied young self.

“Darrah!” my mother finally exclaimed. I froze. I looked up. The ultra-judgmental and shocked gazes of both my sister and my mother met my eyes. I snapped out of whatever ferocious haze I’d just been in and ran into my bedroom, mortified.

About a year later, I began acting. I begged my parents to let me act. In fact, I scribbled on a piece of paper, If I don’t act, I’ll die!!!!!!! and showed it to them. My mother hastily exclaimed, “Oh, god forbid! Bite your tongue. And stop being so dramatic! Go wash your hands for dinner.”

It always frustrated me when my parents told me I was too dramatic—both because being an actress seemed a fitting occupation for a drama queen and because it allowed them to take no responsibility when I had an emotional reaction to my father’s verbal abuse.

My Grandfather & I

My Grandfather & I

I began my short-lived acting career in regional musical theater at a dance studio in Encino. The studio offered a summer performing arts camp called “Paradise.” I snagged the role of Annie in Annie and Frenchie in Grease. (They changed her named to Bubbles to remove any allusion to French kissing. We were ten or eleven, after all. . . .)

I first felt the pressure to diet around that time. I was always about ten pounds overweight—not enough to be considered fat but enough to be seen as having “baby fat” or be called chubby. My mother and aunt were and are perpetually dieting. My mom is still complaining about her weight. She’s semiretired and has miraculously birthed four children from that body (which, at five foot five, has never weighed more than 140 pounds). There’s no use in arguing. She insists she’s fat.

My mother suggested I lose ten pounds before the play. I asked, “How?” She told me to eat mostly fruits and veggies and only what she gave me, nothing else, which meant no more of my favorite food pairing: potato salad and Cup O’ Noodles. I told her I didn’t want to do that.

“Well, you won’t lose weight then,” she said.

“I don’t want to lose weight,” I said.

It turned out that three hours of jazz, tap, and ballet, and voice lessons several times a week were enough to melt away those pesky pounds. But after the summer I regained them.

In grade school, I was sort of a latchkey kid. The youngest of four children, I was impossibly close to my mother. Unfortunately, she worked full-time out of the house to help pay the bills while my father worked at home, nonstop, and couldn’t stand us. He was irritable and angry most of the time and always seemed on the verge of a total breakdown.

I’ve always been forgetful. I repeatedly forgot my house key, and though my dad was often running work-related errands (he sold tropical fish and reptiles) he was more often home and didn’t want to deal with his kids. I can’t count how many times I played alone in the backyard for hours at the end of my fourth-grade school day. He wouldn’t answer the front door even if he was home. Sometimes he would stand at the screen door and chastise me for forgetting my key. “How many times have I told you to remember your key? Why is it so hard to take your key in the morning? Stay out there! You’ll learn!”

I’d jump on the swing that he’d put up between two trees. It slanted to the left when I kicked my legs out and sent me levitating over the barbeque, the crank on the grill hitting and bruising my bare legs. I figured he’d done that on purpose.

There was a hollow tree stump in our backyard that I used to pee in.

By seventh grade I was out of my awkward phase and dying to be popular. I woke up super early the first day of junior high school and foraged through Seventeen for tips on making new friends. I was destined to be popular. I had to be popular. I would be popular. By any means necessary.

Pippi Longstocking for Halloween

Pippi Longstocking for Halloween

Regardless, I was a total geek in seventh grade, and during the summer I did geeky things like ride my bike and play with the neighborhood kids.

When I hit thirteen, not unlike the girls in the movie Thirteen, I was suddenly confronted with boobs, attention, and opportunities—boys, sex, weed, backstabbing friends, and bat mitzvah season.

While it should have been fun and festive, bat mitzvah season ended up being a hypercompetitive stretch wherein girls trashed each other’s dresses and compared cleavage and period start dates.

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I didn’t have good ways to process all the feelings I was having. My grandmother was dying of AIDS from a botched blood transfusion she’d received in 1982. My mother’s drinking problem had become obvious to even casual observers. My father threw outrageous public fits. My brothers, who served as occasional buffers to the madness, were soon graduating and moving out of the house. Sharing a room with my sister had become unbearable. Although claiming to be Christian, she was starting physical fights with me when no one was looking.

Me & My Oldest Brother.

Me & My Oldest Brother

At school there were girls who looked like gazelles. Impossibly tall and gaunt, those girls were my idols. I stopped eating anything but carrots and water in an effort to look like them—especially one gazelle named Mariana.

Carrots and water. Carrots and water. Carrots and water.

Worse yet, my parents knew about it. They mocked me. My father told me I was starting to look like a boy. I declined food. I skipped dinners. I packed paltry lunches. I was happy when my mother got drunk at restaurants, because she wouldn’t notice that I didn’t eat a thing.

When I was thirteen and a half, I got mono and then shingles. The doctor said my immune system was worn from stress (that is, if I was “telling the truth” about not kissing any boys). Algebra was the culprit. It’s true! Math gave me mono. But so did not eating enough for my immune system to battle the stress symptoms. I got skinnier than Mariana and the other gazelles.

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My clavicles cut through my skin. My pajamas hung like drapery. That summer, I got my period. I felt older and more mature. I was ready to make my own decisions.

I studied Slim-Fast commercials and soon after began a modified Slim-Fast diet. I ate cereal for breakfast, a Slim-Fast shake for lunch, and an apple for a snack, and most nights I skipped dinner or else picked at the sides (rice, veggies).

Every dinner was a boxing match between my father and whomever he chose to spar with that evening. Most nights it was my brother, sometimes my mom. And while it was rarely me or my sister pinned to the ropes, I developed a raging stomach ache from eating anything with my father at a dinner table. Even the thought of it troubled me. Nobody wanted to sit next to him. He criticized everything—the way you ate, the way you breathed, the way you answered questions, the way you didn’t.

Watching the people you love cruelly ridiculed every day by the person who’s supposed to love them most does some really weird shit to your brain.

Despite my father’s overwhelming disciplinarian role, both my parents elevated my status in the home. Probably because I was the youngest and most free-spirited and vivacious, I was often in the spotlight. The paradox of being both silenced and put on a pedestal has haunted me since youth.

For example, after my father slapped me across the face in front of the neighbors one afternoon as punishment for ditching school, I told my mother that he was no longer in charge of disciplining me. If he hit me again I would leave the house. That was the last time he hit me. Unfortunately, he continued to attack my brothers so viciously that he once broke a guitar over my oldest brother’s head. We laugh about it now, our voices shaking with audacious disbelief.

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Last Year of Junior High School – Made It Out Alive!

By high school, I had become quite shy. I was tiny and wore thrift-store clothes circa 1969. My mom ironed butterfly patches on my butterfly-collared brown long-sleeved shirts and tattered Levis. I was a total loner.

Oddly, my sister, who was a senior, reported one day that the quarterback of the football team wanted to meet me. I was ditching an elective and visiting her in her psych class. Unfortunately, this private conversation occurred within earshot of her classmates waiting for the bell to ring.

“No,” I said.

The idea of dating a football player was foreign and frightened me.

“Why?” she asked.

“I don’t want to,” I said.

The entire class scoffed.

Why on earth would a girl not want to date the QB of the football team at Chatsworth High School?

I flipped my waist-length dark red hair, put on my yellow-tinted sunglasses, and trotted out. My face was flushed; my hands were shaking. Despite feeling invisible, I was seen and heard by those around me, and that was scary as hell. I fantasized about disappearing.

The success I’d had with dieting through tenth and eleventh grade landed me in a doctor’s office more than once and finally earned me a diagnosis of anorexia.

The evening of the diagnosis, my father broke down my unlocked bedroom door and said that if I didn’t eat he would send me to a hospital and I wouldn’t graduate high school.

“Put a fork in your mouth and eat!” He screamed. “It’s easy!”

He told my mother he’d fixed me.

I felt cornered. I had no outlet for my anxiety, and my family was totally unequipped to deal with my special needs.

I began overeating and popping Vicodin with vodka and whisky chasers. My friends and boyfriends were using weed, speed, acid, mushrooms, and anything else that landed in front of them. I took a distinct liking to methamphetamine.

By twelfth grade, I was a full-fledged drug addict and the idea of skipping a meal was out of the question. I was doing dirty, shitty drugs of such a low quality that they made me eternally hungry. Plus, my anxiety was such that even when I wasn’t hungry, if I had any kind of interaction with my father, I’d binge afterward.

Binge-eating disorder is a lesser-known eating disorder that also happens to be the most common. BED is often accompanied by such deep feelings of shame and failure that even after seeking treatment, many people—especially those who feel they’ve failed at being anorexic—refuse to share that they’ve struggled with it.

I had BED for much longer than I had anorexia. I dabbled with self-induced vomiting (a symptom of bulimia), but it was always paired with bingeing and sometimes with excessive exercise.

I would look forward to binges, which entailed shoving mounds of food into my mouth so fast that sometimes I forgot to chew. A binge would involve a lot of different foods, even ones not normally eaten together, but mostly carbs. During a binge session—food crowded on countertops, empty wrappers littering the kitchen floor, the refrigerator door open in case I wanted to grab something else—I wouldn’t even know what exactly I was eating.

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By my early twenties, binge-eating disorder was affecting my work, friendships, dating life, and self-esteem. I was silently suffering. Nobody knew what was going on. They just knew I wasn’t fat and I wasn’t skinny. I was sort of round again and seemed happy enough. My bones weren’t sticking out. I had a job I managed to get to relatively often, and although struggling with my sexuality and my family’s homophobia, I was putting that fork in my mouth, so my father could still take credit for curing my anorexia.

I was living on my own and had the privacy I needed to binge without having to hide it from family or roommates or a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The thought of going on a date totally freaked me out. What would I eat? How long would the date be? When could I go home and binge?

After work, I would rush home to binge. Frenziedly scarfing down cookies, I’d replay all the embarrassing or annoying or angering interactions of my workday. I didn’t have the tools to address them in real time.

Slowly, the sugar and adrenaline rush would fade. My fingers would stop shaking. My post-binge companions were gut-wrenching shame and a bunch of empty wrappers to count.

Even though I lived alone, I still hid food and the remnants of my binges as I had when I lived with my parents. I learned how to eat half a cake in such a way that you’d never know by looking at it. At least in my mind you wouldn’t know. I have no idea what it really looked like. My eyes morphed everything into something better or worse than it was. I had life dysmorphia.

I couldn’t be around a cake without itching to eat the whole thing. I couldn’t enter a grocery store without having an all-out panic attack. At parties, I’d proudly eat nothing and then race to 7-Eleven or CVS—my fav sources for throwaway food.

A typical binge might look like this:

One large bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos
Small bag of Cheetos from the display by the register
Twenty-ounce cup of hot cocoa from the machine
One pint of ice cream (flavor chosen spontaneously)
Two-liter bottle of Diet Coke
Snack bag of York Peppermint Patties
Two-pack of Hostess Cupcakes
Slice of cheese pizza

To maximize efficiency (get the stuff quicker to start the binge sooner), I’d mentally map out my shopping list before I hit the store. That also served to shorten the duration of the dirty shame I felt when the cashier inevitably eyed me with eerie knowingness.

The binge started the minute the car door slammed shut—one hand on the steering wheel in an honest attempt at safe driving, the other hand frantically ripping open the Doritos. Nacho cheese powder stained everything I touched.

I once bought a half gallon of ice cream and forgot to get a spoon. I ate it straight out of the container with my teeth.

I considered Overeaters Anonymous but thought they’d laugh at me. I wasn’t hundreds of pounds overweight; I was about twenty. But I was no less a food addict.

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Desperate for a new beginning, I reached out for change. What finally helped me end the downward spiral? A book called It’s Not About Food nearly saved my life. So did finding therapists who specialized in disordered eating, and getting the fuck away from my family. I moved to Boston when I was twenty-one and stayed there for two years. When I moved back to California, I began attending twelve-step meetings. I also take a medication that helps with my depression and anxiety and with the part of my brain that makes me feel voraciously hungry when I’m not.

One night, when I was twenty-five, not long after I moved back from Boston, a spirit visited me. During my twenties, I often felt the presence of spirits or angels. This one lingered in the archway of my bedroom door. I somehow knew it was the spirit of my eating disorder. That may sound weird, but it was the information I was given right then by my higher power. I said thank you and good-bye. It became clear in that moment that my eating disorder had been a tool to get me through difficult periods when I’d had no other tools to employ. It had been the only constant in my life up to that point. She had also been a teacher.

On the Mend

On the Mend

I cried and felt the spirit linger a bit before saying good-bye back.

It hasn’t been easy for me, but I’ve been blessed in more ways than I can count. One of those blessings is my ability to maintain a positive attitude despite adversity.

This is what my eating disorder has taught me: if you can find a way not to judge your choices and to accept that you did the best you could with what you had at any given time, you’ll probably find a way to forgive yourself and, ultimately, be a lot happier! You will find the peace and clarity you need to smooth the rough spots and make your way into the light you deserve to bask in—radical self-love, I think it’s called.

…Follow Your Bliss xoxo


Know someone who is struggling with food addiction? Contact NEDA.

Did you find this post insightful or interesting? Have your own thoughts on Eating Disorders? Leave your comment below. Friend me on: Facebook & Twitter & Instagram

Be sure to join Darrah’s Insider Club, my weekly e-newsletter! Sign up below.

RELATED: Committed Relationships Are So Annoying

RELATED: Dating In Your 30s — Is It As Bad As It Seems?

RELATED: From Sex Addict to Monogamous Mom: A love junkie finds true love

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Darrah Le Montre is a writer and journalist and devoted mom. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and nudie blog SuicideGirls. Next week, her essay, “This Is What Dating An Alcoholic Is Like” will debut in the recovery blog The Fix.

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Committed Relationships Are So Annoying

Single Vs. Coupled—Who Will Win?

By Darrah Belle

Your long-term boyfriend or girlfriend may not give you butterflies anymore, but there are other things that keep you two spooning on Saturday night, right? The Affair flickering on your flat screen, eating pepperoni pizza right out of the box. So… what is it?

Committed relationships are hard for both men and women.

When I’m in a long-term intimate relationship, however, I generally behave like a better human being. I’m calmer, more centered, stable and grateful. That doesn’t mean I’m not eternally restless, sexually frustrated and resentful at being dependent on one penis or one vagina. I am! Not to mention, endlessly comparing my committed relationships to other people. Especially on social media, where women portray their partner as being straight out of mommy porn: chivalrous, always clean-shaven and with low-hangers that never smack them too hard.

Worse yet are girlfriends who constantly complain about their husbands but never do anything to change their unhappiness.

Lately, I’ve been wondering: if committed relationships are so complicated, why do we seek them out with fervor and why do we stay in them?

An acquaintance at a 12-step meeting once said, “I thought I was perfect until I met my boyfriend. Then he held up a metaphorical mirror to my face and showed me my character flaws.” He seemed grateful. We all chuckled. After the gathering, my then-girlfriend and I walked to the car, his words echoing in my head. “I thought I was perfect until…” I couldn’t help but wonder: Did I think I was perfect? I think I did! Not perfect, per se, but darn near it.

That is until my then-girlfriend exposed my shortcomings, including a temper, stubbornness, selfishness and immaturity. (There were more but I’ll stop there.) It’s a lot easier to sail along single and convince yourself that you are Venus incarnate than it is to actually break the mold and see our true selves.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 2.30.25 PMWhen I was single, I honored a strict exercise regimen. Had time to nurture friendships with a squad of girls more loyal than a nipple piercing. I lunched with male friends I rarely see anymore, at the now-shuttered Dolores’s Restaurant. I went where I wanted when I wanted and told nobody most of the time. I dressed more provocatively, let my apartment get dirty and the laundry pile up. I played music loud late at night then snacked on Cheetos and fell sleep high on the couch with orange fingers. I flirted with the guy behind the register at 7-Eleven then went home to binge-listen to Adam Carolla’s podcast. Cheetos dust still glued to my fingernails. [When I was single, I didn’t give AF.]

When I was single, I could travel for a weekend tryst on short notice and not take another person into consideration. I could screw whomever I wanted on any given night without answering to anybody (except my own conscience). This adventurousness broke up the monotony that is built into sleeping with one partner only.

What I didn’t have when I was single is a man who loves me down to his bones and I didn’t have the love of my life: my daughter! While I am often confronted by my own demons including depression I can’t hide from my partner, who detects it from a mile away, I sincerely believe, after all is said and done, we are here for our spirits not our own satisfaction. We are here to wrestle the metaphorical dragon to the floor only to retrieve the gift in his mouth—which takes us to the next evolutionary level, spiritually speaking.

That’s not to say I don’t occasionally chomp at the bit for that perpetual nagging feeling of ‘Will he call or won’t he?’ that comes with dating unavailable men. Even though it was dreadful at the time and nausea inducing, somehow, once you have the support and stability of a long-term partner you do sort of miss the wondering. Especially for somebody like me, who mostly dated addicts and alcoholics, being with somebody who does not have those types of problems is foreign. I got used to the bad boy personality who is also charismatic and could charm the pants off of anybody. That boy would also charm the pants off of me and subsequently break my heart… But I digress…

The other part of a long-term, committed relationship that benefits our spirit is living in an intentional way. I am propping a mirror up for my partner as well, and helping him grow. I am making him a better man. When we are content to commit to someone fully, we are being of service to another human. And that’s just cool. We get to learn how to be gentle, kind, loving and also guide somebody to be a better, stronger and higher version of themselves. By being of service in that way I’ve become a better listener, become more keen at asking questions, and being patient before pressing for an answer (or offering multiple choice answers—girls you feel me?) and this helps me in life too. It’s a win-win!

Being in a committed relationship with one-person forces you to negate the EXIT sign blinking like Beetlejuice’s favorite brothel, and ignore the buffet of prospects you could distract yourself with when the going gets tough. Rather than seek out Ashley Madison, you seek out therapy and 12-step programs and journals and date nights and other intentional activities where you get in and get in deep with another person. It’s hard! It’s not easy! It’s intense and uncomfortable.

Is it worth the fighting, the blanket stealing and the horniness? That’s for you to decide.

If you find yourself unhappy in a romantic relationship, I suggest writing down the pros & cons. If the cons outweigh the pros, consider making a change. That change can include finding ways to voice your unique needs and also discovering what you actually want if you’re unsure. Then share those feelings with your other half. Don’t keep yourself hidden away. Trust me, I did it for a long time. Hiding yourself, making your needs secondary and burying your voice won’t get you what you want. Taking risks and being vulnerable will.

…Follow Your Bliss xoxo


Did you find this post insightful or funny? Have your own thoughts on Committed Relationships? Leave your comment below!

Liked this article? Please share it! And friend me on: Facebook & Twitter & Instagram

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RELATED: Dating In Your 30s — Is It As Bad As It Seems?

RELATED: How Relationships with Our Pet Friends Change After We Have a Baby

RELATED: From Sex Addict to Monogamous Mom: A love junkie finds true love

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Darrah Le Montre is a writer and journalist and devoted mom. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and nudie blog SuicideGirls. Next month, her essay, “This Is What Dating An Alcoholic Is Like” will debut in the recovery blog The Fix.

 

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Darrah Singing Xmas Songs in March!

Last night, I lent my voice to one of the most challenging xmas songs “O Holy Night.” My favorite rendition is Kelly Clarkson’s, but since I didn’t have a gospel choir to accompany me (this time!) I settled for a little computer karaoke off YouTube… 😉 Happy Noel in March!

Wanna hear more? Visit my Singing page for Taylor Swift & Tori Amos & Jewel covers!

A little Christmas ditty! It’s a challenging song to sing! I did my best. O Holy Night. And, with that… Goodnight!! Xo ???

Posted by Darrah’s Blog: darrahdejour.com on Sunday, 20 March 2016

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Dating In Your 30s — Is It As Bad As It Seems?

How to Choose the Right Man When Your Biological Clock is Ticking Like a 3AM Fire Alarm!

By Darrah Belle Le Montre

dating in your 30sDating in your 30s in Los Angeles (or any big city, really) is the pits. Unique to an arts city like L.A., however, is the bustling beehive of attractive people trying to be an actor, singer, pro-wrestler, whatever. Sooner than later, you realize that meaningful dating is sometimes the last thing people want to be doing. And if you’re a woman who wants to settle down and have a baby, Los Angeles can be among the worst places to secure your future, ahem, date. How do you know for sure if you’re a placeholder until your crush makes it big as a hotshot lawyer, Beverly Hills dermatologist, reality star… Or if they’re actually somebody to invest time in?

Here are a few tips to avoid getting stung right in the kisser!

Many women in their 30s find themselves pretending to want less from a relationship than they actually do. Around 28, I began dating men again after a nearly nine year hiatus. I never believed I was totally lesbian, but I hadn’t had intercourse with a man since I was 19.

I took it slow, rolling in the New Year with a six-week fuck fest with an Irish banker who once drunkenly fell asleep while he was going down on me. Suffice it to say that never happened with one of my lesbian lovers! Still, I was tipsy on my growing attraction to men and followed it like a buzzing bar sign.

My second male lover was a mega-rich venture capitalist embroiled in a custody battle with a mistress, all while maintaining a family on the East Coast. I found this out during our tryst, which lasted brief one-and-a-half months.

Around this time, I met the man who would be my longest relationship with a penis in almost a decade. “Jimmy” and I met at a book signing and he talked my head off before asking for my number outside Book Soup in Hollywood. He wore dirty jeans and a thrift store shirt and was at least ten years older than me, if not more. He reminded me of a drunk in a Charles Bukowski novel on one of his sober days. He turned out to be a bit of a narcissist but he was kind and went down on me often (staying awake the whole time!). After seven months, what he didn’t do was EVER put a photo of me on social media.

His online photo albums were littered with photos of himself in his glory days. Straddling a motorcycle. Beaming a mile-wide smile at his old ad job. Fishing. Skiing. Meeting the president. Not one photo of us broke up the “perennial bachelor” version of his life that he showed the world.

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  • One of the first hard and fast rules of dating in the new millennium is paying attention to the parade of photos your flame rolls out on Instagram and other social media.

What version of themselves do they want the world to see? In my experience, if it’s an overly sexualized one, then they may be hungry for validation from strangers and could have a hard time with monogamy. If they’re always drinking or drugging or holding a gun for that matter, you may have cause to worry. If they have a decent mix of family photos, office picnics and a few nightclub snaps, then you probably have a non-sociopathic, somewhat grounded potential mate. Congrats!

My brother used to tell me there are two kinds of guys out there. “Sex guys” and “sex and more” guys. It was my job to discover which one they were before they broke my heart.

As I mentioned, around 30, I began thinking about my future with a man. This future inevitably involved a child. Given I was fairly new to the dating game with men, I made a lion’s share of mistakes, which, lucky for you, I’m open to sharing! What I did right, however, was read a lot of books about relationships and even went to seminars and weekend retreats where I learned how to ask for what I need in a way that men could understand.

While dining at Café Gratitude one evening with a girlfriend, a brave waiter walked up to me and commented that while he wasn’t my server, he couldn’t help but approach me and tell me I was beautiful. I was flattered and thanked him. I gave my friend “the look” which asked, “Is he cute?” She nodded. The guy sort of hid behind a beam, embarrassed suddenly by his bravado. I read him as sweetly honest. But at that time my picker was shit. He did get my number that night and we would date for two weeks before he broke it off. (The day before Valentine’s Day. Which I spent with that same girlfriend at a downtown art show, because the waiter didn’t “believe in” Valentine’s Day.)

dating in your 30sHe begged me back after a week apart; we slept together and were back in the saddle again.

We did all the stuff a normal couple does: kiss lots in parked cars, have breakfast at diners and people watch, buy Plan B. After a few weeks of this, during dinner, I broached the topic of my future. I told him that in 3-5 years I wanted to marry and have a child. He looked mystified. He said he had zero plans and zero savings to support my desire.

Most women would freak out, back pedal and instantly regret being as honest as I was. But the most striking difference between my 20-something self and my 30-something self is that I felt no fear. I had been supporting myself financially for a while now. I had been happily single for a few years. I was the woman I had aspired to be and wasn’t sure I’d ever have the strength to become.

I thanked him. 

He made me think harder about who I was looking for versus who I was attracting. I started writing about, in detail, the sort of person I wanted to invite into my life and began prioritizing those qualities. For example, I knew I wanted a child, but what kind of father did I want for her? I knew I wanted a non-judgmental person, so why wasn’t I more discerning about who I shared my life with? I needed somebody who had sewn his wild oats (and was totally OK that I had sewn mine too!) and who was ready to commit to me. I needed somebody I could feel like myself with and that who I am is more than enough.Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 5.44.54 PM

  • Men tell you who they are and they tell you right away.

Listen to men because they are more honest than women about their identity. In fact, if I had taken to heart the man he presented early on, I would have never cast him as anything more than a “sex guy.”

There were a few others that cropped up before I met my fiancé. Including the 24-year-old who routinely asked if he could expect a BJ at the end of the date. And some sweet ones too, like the 55-year-old casting director who I was trying on like a vintage coat but whose sincerity forced me to confront my own truths: how committed was I to finding who I was looking for, really?

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  • The sooner you nail down your inner truths, deepest desires AND are willing to go to bat for yourself, the faster those things will be delivered to you because you will seek them out, work for them, or in the least, recognize them when they appear.

After dating awhile it can feel like you have a wardrobe closet full of ever-ready personalities to pick from depending on who you’re dating and who you think their fantasy girl is.

Dating is hard, but dating while lying is harder. Keeping track of false personas is a lot of work and it leaves you feeling drained. Know thy self and be true to her.

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  • The last and most important rule: If you pretend to be somebody else and you get the partner you lust after, you will be pretending for a lifetime. If you’re honest about who you are, you will weed out the wrong candidates and find your perfect match!

When you stop bullshitting, you lose the bullshitters!

 

Good luck and Happy Hunting, ahem, Dating! XOXO

…Follow Your Bliss xoxo
dating in your 30s


Did you find this post insightful or funny? Have your own thoughts on Dating in Your 30s? Leave your comment below!

Liked this article? Please share it! And join me on: Facebook & Twitter & Instagram

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RELATED: Confessions of a Former Teenage Christian

RELATED: This is What Dating an Alcoholic is Like

RELATED: How Relationships with Our Pet Friends Change After We Have a Baby

RELATED: From Sex Addict to Monogamous Mom: A love junkie finds true love

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Darrah Le Montre is a writer and journalist and devoted mom. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and nudie blog SuicideGirls. 

Comics Credits:

  1. AwesomeSauce3 2. Lonnie Comics 3. “The Truth About Dating” by H. Caldwell Tanner

 

 

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Sneak Peek Into Thursday’s Blog: Dating In Your 30s!

Here is a sneak peek of Thursday’s blog post about ~ Dating in Your 30s! ~ I read the first paragraph to you! Enjoy & be sure to check back Thursday! XoX

Are we linked up on Facebook? If not, find Follow Your Bliss blog fan page here! And don’t forget to sign up for Darrah’s Club, my weekly e-newsletter for insider-only content, freebies & special gifts! Sign up below this post. :)  I’m on Twitter & Instagram too! 

Here is a sneak peek of Thursday’s blog post about ~Dating in Your 30s!~ ?? I read the first paragraph to you! Enjoy! XoX?

Posted by Darrah’s Blog: darrahdejour.com on Monday, 14 March 2016

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1,000 Readers on My ‘Follow Your Bliss’ Facebook Fan Page!

In celebration of 1,000 readers on my Follow Your Bliss Facebook fan page ~ Here is my Thank You video along with details about Darrah’s Club subscribers’ first special gift!!

Are we linked up on Facebook? If not, find Follow Your Bliss blog fan page here! And don’t forget to sign up for Darrah’s Club, my weekly e-newsletter for insider-only content, freebies & special gifts! Sign up below this post. :) 

In celebration of 1,000 readers here on my fan page ~Here is my Thank You video along with details about Darrah’s Club subscribers’ first special gift!! ???

Posted by Darrah’s Blog: darrahdejour.com on Thursday, 10 March 2016

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My Holy Tussle: Confessions of a Former Teenage Christian

Who knew choosing Christ could be so subversive?

Written By Darrah Le Montre

Edited by Megan Granger

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It all started right after Grandma died: The feelings for girls. The speedy thoughts I couldn’t control. The fear that I was gay. I got drunk for the first time. Girlfriends asked me to smoke weed with them and a group of boys they’d just met. I learned about oral sex from NWA. I got mono from not eating and worrying about algebra. I lost friends by being a doormat. I was bullied by mean girls who claimed to be my friends. I feared high school, which was looming. I lost my way.

But I also found something around that time, when my sister befriended a born-again Christian family who lived down the block. The Hayneses had two daughters, one my sister’s age. My sister would tell me bits and pieces about this foreign thing: religion.

Growing up in a Jewish household meant that we were expected to be proud of our Jewish heritage, we ate potato pancakes (or latkes) during the high holidays, and while we could date outside of our religion, we would be pressured to break it off sooner rather than later—to avoid hurt feelings, of course. We had no religious upbringing to speak of. My father was basically an atheist. My mother believed in God but attached no ideology to that belief. We were not mitzvahed.

One Saturday morning, with the smell of bacon wafting from the kitchen—I was a vegetarian by then—I hid in our shared room with my sister and watched cartoons on a tiny TV we had gotten for Hanukah. Suddenly, a Jesus cartoon came on. “What’s this?” we said aloud. We giggled uncomfortably. Then we found ourselves glued to the petal-pink TV in silence.

“Your food is ready!”

We kept watching, spellbound. During commercials, we put our heads down, feeling guilty. When the cartoon came back on, we affixed our eyes to the screen. We learned about the disciples, the money men, Jesus’ fury at corrupt religious leaders, Mary Magdalene, and the crucifixion. Another commercial.

My mother knocked on the door. “Food is ready!” she said. This time she was mad.

“OKAY!” we chimed.

“What are you watching?” she asked.

“Nothing!” we lied. Luckily, she didn’t open the door.

I can still remember the warm amber glow and canary-yellow aura surrounding the resurrected white Jesus; his outstretched arms; the clouds like a blanket around the Risen Son; his ascent into an animated blue sky that was bluer than I’d ever seen it in real life. Jesus’ warm love was emanating through the screen and into my heart. I was entranced by the vision and the idea of a man so loving and accepting.

By the end of the cartoon, we were basically born again.

Around that time, my sister had begun this bad habit of hitting me. And I had begun this bad habit of letting her.

An Amy Grant poster hung beside my bed. She had put it there. My personal space was diminishing.

My grandmother had been slowly dying for about ten years by the time my mother and aunt told me, while drunk, what was wrong with her. She had contracted HIV—which had then turned into AIDS—during her open-heart surgery. A triple bypass. The surgery was ultimately successful, but Grandma lost nearly all the blood in her body and they had to give her a transfusion. It was 1982. She was pumped full of infected blood.

When I learned the truth, I told my mom I was relieved.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because we finally know what’s wrong with Gramma,” I said.

“Oh, we always knew,” Mother replied.

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Family folklore has it that the doctor called my grandfather after the blood test results came in. He admitted it was his fault. Because of his surgical mistake, my sixty-two-year-old grandmother was HIV positive. The doctor cried into the phone. My grandfather consoled him and never sought damages.

I suffered anxiety from an early age and, later, OCD and eating disorders. My three siblings and I were not shielded from my grandmother’s illness. I was her favorite, and I held her hand while she writhed in pain. The cocktails in the early ’90s weren’t what they are now. We all prayed when my grandfather injected “blackie” into her IV. Our prayers were rarely answered.

I’ve never cried so hard as the evening I found out my grandmother had died. My siblings were playing video games. How could they? Grandma was dead. I had failed to save her. My mother was going crazy. My father became the sane one, which was a feat. I hid in my room writing letters to my grandmother, and one was read aloud when her ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean. I didn’t attend.

I did attend the memorial service. I was thirteen. I scanned the room frenetically and giggled nervously. I’d never been to a memorial, and seeing my family cry made me feel really confused. And the guy at the podium mispronouncing everything and getting names wrong made it all seem like a bad dress rehearsal for a play where people wanted to be sad. I never wanted to be sad. I just couldn’t get a handle on anything or anyone around me.

Before she died, I used to think that if only I would catch HIV—or if Papa, my grandfather, would—then Grandma wouldn’t feel so isolated by her illness.

Whenever we visited her in the hospital and passed the chapel, I would say a silent prayer. My parents dissuaded me from going in. It became understood that entering the chapel was taboo, as if doing so meant you were weak. You would basically be talking to something that didn’t really exist, so it would all be a waste of time and really quite embarrassing.

I wanted to go in.

They joked that my sister was probably in there. Praying. I knew she wasn’t. She was pretty angry by that time.

Sister was fifteen and a half and had a major chip on her shoulder when we moved to Chatsworth. We had high hopes that the new house would offer the family something that had died with my grandmother: unity. After the first walk-through of the two-story house on an idyllic cul-de-sac, my mother announced with a pouty lip, “I don’t like it.”

I tried to be good and small and get good grades. My sister and I shared the master bedroom, donated by our parents. I hid remnants of my existence in a shared wall-to-wall closet. My personal space was practically nonexistent. The master bedroom contained all things pale country pink, my least favorite color, while my Bob Marley CDs and Mickey Mouse duffel bag and decorative butterfly coffee mug sat on a shelf in the closet. If I dared put any of my things out, my sister would corner me, yelling, “Put it back in the closet!” Then she would tell me, in her best Marcia Brady voice, that I really should burn my CDs, because sinners sang those songs. I never did believe Marley was a sinner. Even as a Christian, I just couldn’t swallow that pill.

She got a job gift-wrapping at a local pharmacy gift shop. I visited her. She showed me Precious Moments porcelain figurines with a religious bent. She began collecting angels. After work, she’d go to church. My family was furious. I was caught in between.

One afternoon, I locked myself in my parents’ room and dialed a hotline for suicidal teenagers. I wasn’t suicidal, but I was growing increasingly fearful that I was gay. Puberty was in full swing and my persistent sexual thoughts about women had spilled over to include my best girlfriends. We would go swimming and they would notice me noticing them. The hotline operator was named Sarah. She assured me that I wasn’t gay, that it was totally normal. She said it happened to her, too, and that she was definitely straight. I repeated back what I’d heard. Maybe I would be like Sarah. Not like Darrah. I hung up and masturbated.

At school, I befriended the slutty girls and tried to help them. They showed me how to use tampons and smoke weed. I told them they had worth. They told me I was sweet. It was a practical arrangement.

I was valedictorian of my junior high school class. I wore what appeared to most to be a Russian wedding dress. Head-to-toe taupe lace and pearl drop earrings. Other girls’ parents told them they should be more like me. My mom went broke buying this two-piece outfit, an intricate bodice paired with matching ankle-length skirt. I never wore it again, and much later, finding it sheathed in a Jessica McClintock dress bag would inspire a mixture of embarrassment and pride. High school was in three months. I would inevitably go from newly minted popular girl who had swam with the sharks and earned lipstick-tinted chinks in my armor to being a small fish in what felt like a gigantic scary fishbowl.

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 5.58.53 PMIn high school, I wore thrift store clothes. I begged my mom to take me to Salvation Army at 6 p.m. on work nights. She would complain loudly that she needed to make dinner for six people. But I would brush that off, because a part of me knew she was just happy we were spending time together—even if it wasn’t at Macy’s. The perfect complement to these new old digs? A King James Bible.

A teacher at my new school wore a necklace with a cross inside of a Jewish star. I once asked her what it meant. She told me she was a Jew for Jesus. My mother said she shouldn’t be talking about that at school. It felt wrong to me, too. Didn’t she know my parents wouldn’t approve of her religious choice? It was against the rules. You were either Jewish or Christian. You didn’t get to be both. It was greedy. At least, I couldn’t be both.

Another teacher, Mrs. D., was uncommonly funny and kind. She was easily sidetracked and ended up using more class time describing a Mexican folk-art mask hanging on the wall in Spanish class than teaching us how to conjugate verbs. She also saw me. After school one day, she handed me a small desk calendar with Bible quotes printed on each page. She prefaced the gift with an explanation that teachers in public school weren’t supposed to show favor to any religion or even discuss religion with students. I held the calendar tightly, with a broad smile that made my cheeks hurt.

The Jewish twins who’d had me over for Friday night Shabbat dinners a year before mocked me at school. Punk kids mocked me. My parents mocked me. “What, are you Christian now?” they asked. When I said yes, they pressed for answers.

“I found Jesus,” I explained simply. They laughed.

That Christmas, the two albums I listened to nonstop were Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band and the Time-Life Treasury of Christmas, which I saw on TV and begged my mom for. She bought it in four easy installments of $9.99.

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Surprisingly, we got a tree that year. My father insisted we call it a Hanukah bush. Underneath the greenery bedecked in blue and silver tinsel rested a wrapped present for me from my sister. Once I shook it, I instantly knew it was the same gift she’d gotten me three years in a row. Estée Lauder’s amber-hued Beautiful perfume. I hate surprises, so I played five questions (square or circle, liquid or solid, edible or not, etc.) before I shook it and belted out “BEAUTIFUL!” She was pissed and told on me, but her anger was quelled by my excitement.

Despite our rampant division, a favorite pastime of my family’s was to gather around our sixty-inch widescreen and watch a boxing match. I cried when Tyson lost his title. My mom held me.

By that time, I considered myself a Christian. Distinctive from most Christians, I was a Christian, meaning I was observant; I was choosing it, not just born into it. My parents had more choice labels for me: Jesus freak. Bible beater. Bible thumper. In the beginning, my chin would crumble when Dad passed me on the stairs and shot an epithet my way. The name-calling stopped when I starting wearing the names like badges of honor.

At school, I read my Bible and ministered to other students. I read books about abstinence and coached girlfriends who I knew were sexually active. When my dad wasn’t home, I hosted after-school conversations with boys in our driveway, encouraging them to practice abstinence until marriage. One day, my sister leaned out of our shared bedroom window and said, “Oh, shut the hell up already.” It was in that moment that I knew I had surpassed her in faith. Her jealousy had overcome her trust in the Lord. I had won at being a Christian . . . and I was even more alone than before.

I was sixteen. A rumor was flying around that a boy in drama class liked me. He was kind of cute but a geek and also alternative-looking, with long hair and a lanky gait. He was a senior and listened to Nine Inch Nails and Tori Amos. I was still into my previous boyfriend, a skater boy who smoked. Having a new crush was a welcome distraction. There was another rumor going around about that boy that proved to be true. He was bisexual.

My mother liked him but worried about AIDS. The picture of my grandmother dying was emblazoned on our psyches.

Her lips began to grow lesions. She bruised so easily. Her legs were so thin. Her skin was like sandwich paper. She was bedridden. She used dry shampoo. Her home grew dusty. She never ate out. She never went out. My grandfather was her nurse. She cursed at him from the bedroom, ordering him to feed her. Liquid into an IV. She died just after their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Alone in a hospice. Mother said the nurses gave her too much morphine. Probably on purpose.

DarrahViceDance90sMy new boyfriend—the bisexual—and I slept in separate rooms on prom night because it wasn’t proper to share a bed. I wore a corset, which he considered sexy. I just wanted to look skinny. I took laxatives that night, which made me feel bloated. I had begun taking diuretics, too. I was flailing without a church, and I was being bullied at home from nearly every corner. We dated for six months, which was epic for high school. When we broke up, my relationship with my mother suffered. Liking him had become our one commonality.

It was the end of junior year. Watching televangelists on Saturday night was perfectly fine with me. But my sister made fun of me. I had nowhere to turn. Heavenly Father felt far away suddenly, somehow. So, finally, I turned off the light.

Yes, I was disillusioned by this religion. But mostly, my sister, who claimed to be Christian, was hurting me, and my father was hurting me, and my mother was hurting me. So I turned off the light. It would make things easier, perhaps.

The poems I had begun to write with unparalleled enthusiasm—using ANGEL as an acronym, panegyrizing the Son—changed into feverish free verses about sadness and hypocrisy.

The spiritual ideology I clung to as a teen was what I desperately needed at that time for security and a foundation I had never been given. But my family ripped away my lifeline, and I was too weak and too young to claim it righteously any longer. It took a year and a half for me to stop believing I was going to hell. But hell found me.

I turned off the light and I found another religion: drugs.

“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls.”

The same insecurities that had plagued me my whole life overtook me and I fell victim to the devil that is speed.

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There is no God. When I hear people say that, I flinch. Having my spiritual devotion and beliefs minimized, ridiculed, and mocked made me feel small. My voice was stolen. Because of the dark avenues I turned to in place of Christianity, I am reticent to ever snatch away anybody’s lifeline. The results can be personally catastrophic.

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I still struggle to remember I am not my roots. I am a flower grown from them.

It would be easy for me to blame my family for my self-harming choices. But now that I’m the mom of a young child, I can understand how difficult it must have been for them to see me date people they didn’t approve of or choose a spiritual practice they didn’t agree with.

However, after the healing practices I’ve dedicated myself to, coupled with the decade-plus of recovery I’ve invested in, I would never give myself up as easily as I did at sixteen. The self-work I’ve done, by the grace of my higher power, can’t be taken away by anybody.

And I’ll be damned if I ever sand away at my daughter’s choices and salvations. The stakes are simply too high.

Sometimes, it’s a matter of life and death.

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RELATED: This is What Dating an Alcoholic is Like

RELATED: How Relationships with Our Pet Friends Change After We Have a Baby

RELATED: From Sex Addict to Monogamous Mom: A love junkie finds true love

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Darrah Le Montre is a writer and journalist and devoted mom. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and nudie blog SuicideGirls. 

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Darrah Attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards!

12376780_10153433983006344_9132710660215006903_nWhat a fun night! Despite (or because of?) the Academy Awards controversy, I was really looking forward to going & seeing some of my favorite stars, especially newer stars, like Best Actress winner for The Room Brie Larson. The evening did not disappoint! The most common dress colors were navy, purple and orange (think Reese Witherspoon and Olivia Munn) and despite this being my third year attending the Academy Awards, this was my first time celebrating afterward at the coveted Governor’s Ball! I hung with Jason Segel and his girlfriend Alexis Mixter, stalked Louis CK (my vote goes to him for hosting duties next year!) and saw Bryan Cranston, another dude I love. Congrats to host Chris Rock for doing his best with a tall order. Though, even his contribution had blowback. All in all, a grand show and another chance to wear a vintage dress and get some pin curls goin’ on! XOXO

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Go go gadget! #AcademyAwards #Oscars #cantwait #vintagedress #beads #retrohair #classic #seriouseyebrowaction #lashesfordays ?????

Posted by Darrah Belle on Sunday, 28 February 2016

On my way! #AcademyAwards #Oscars #cantwait #vintagedress #beads #retrohair #classic #lashesfordays ?????

Posted by Darrah Belle on Sunday, 28 February 2016

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