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Way to Go Insider’s Guide to March in RVA

Personal Spirit Designers Look Within for Inspiration How-to Ideas: Make a Change in March

Women You Should Know: Angela Bacskocky, Heather Crislip, Lisa Griffin, Cynthia Grier Lotze and more An Educated Guest: Decoding Restaurant Lingo

Online Fitness Options: Work Out While In

milano (mee-LAH-no)

Join La Bella Hair Studio on March 21st from 5-7pm as we introduce‌

La Brezza, a breath of fresh air for great hair on the go. Only from the gifted stylists at La Bella Hair Studio for $35. Bubbly beverages and light fare courtesy of BBQ Bliss & More Catering. Every guest will receive $10 off their first La Brezza Experience! 1st 50 people receive a free travel product from UNITE. Donations benefiting Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation

La Bella Hair Studio

7110-D Patterson Avenue, Richmond, VA 23229 | Triangle Park | 804-285-2490 |













La Bella Hair Studio

7110-D Patterson Avenue, Richmond, VA 23229 | Triangle Park | 804-285-2490 |


The 21st Spring Market

Friday, April 5th Saturday, April 6th Sunday, April 7th

10-7 10-7 10-5

Tickets Now on Sale for the 2013 Enterprising Women of Excellence Awards Dinner


600 E. Laburnum Avenue, Richmond, VA 23222 AdvAncE TIckETS:

Murphies in Carytown & Tweed across from Short Pump Town Center.

A beautiful spring gift show with nationally known crafters & artists - unique spring and summer gift lines, garden accessories and much more! ◆ Information:

The Bizarre Bazaar®, Box 8330, Richmond, VA 23226 804-673-6280 ◆ Fax 804-673-7017 ◆ ◆

Spring. It’s Here!

The following sponsorship and tickets are available:


Full Table Sponsorship


Half Table Sponsorship


Patron Ticket


Individual Ticket

boutique of good fortune 5807 Patterson Avenue • 804.288.5807

Premier Sponsor:

Thanks to our sponsors:

| 4 | March 2013


March 2013

belle Publisher: Lori

Collier Waran Editor in Chief:

Jason Roop

On the cover:

Fashion designer Angela Bacskocky. Photo by Scott Elmquist

Editor: Deveron Art Director:


Joel Smith Scott Elmquist

Photography Editor: Fashion Editor:

Lauren Healy

Contributing Writers:

Ellie Basch Julie Geen Valley Haggard Elizabeth Jewett Ranee Kamens Hilary Langford Karen Newton Melissa Scott Sinclair


Style & substance

Copy Editor: G.W.


Hannah Huber

publishing and new media development manager:

Dana Elmquist



details: Jewelry that walks on the

dark side gives two local designers a distinct view. by Lauren Healy 14 fashion statement: Nawrin Bond goes for the full effect in a world defined by love. by Ranee Kamens 16


Ed Harrington

Body & Soul

Put your hands on a handcrafted bag for spring. … Find vintage furnishings and accents online. … Meet Cynthia Grier Lotze, teacher and writer. … Shop for prepared foods at Mayfair House. … Train your canine pal with Valerie Paul. … Wear your identity with a dharma T. … Celebrate women's history and still find time for spring cleaning. by Karen Newton way to go: Explore Richmond's cultural scene with advice from one who’s been there. Karen Newton is your guide for some unusual local outings this month. by Karen Newton 12

Fashion Cues



profile: Designer Angela Bacskocky delves

into the ghost world for her new collection of fashions. Meet her here. by Hilary Langford



Fitness: If you can’t get out to work out, try a session with your computer. by Julie Geen 21 Private parts: Lisa Griffin explores the complexities of gender dysphoria, and offers tips on how to talk about it. by Julie Geen 22

Arts and Entertainment


Agenda: Read it, hear it, do it: there’s something for all kinds of tastes in the Belle agenda for March. by Julie Geen, Elizabeth Jewett and Hilary Langford.

great taste

Marketing, Sponsorships & Events:



Toni McCracken



Jamie Haboush, Hillary Parsons SALES ASSISTANT:



Chris Kwiatkowski business assistant:

Jennifer Waldbauer

at home: Heather Crislip understands the

value of home, and shows us her new one in the Fan. by Melissa Scott Sinclair 26 an educated guest: Ever wonder what they’re saying in that restaurant kitchen? Chef Ellie Basch decodes the lingo. by Ellie Basch 28

First Person


A girl’s best friend isn’t diamonds, it’s a beloved doggie. by Valley Haggard

Belle is published monthly and is free. One copy per person. Belle may be distributed by authorized distributors only. Style Weekly subscriptions are available for $49 (third class mail) and $99 (first class mail). Style Weekly, 1313 E. Main St., Suite 103, Richmond, Va. 23219, 804-358-0825; General fax 804-358-1079; News fax 804-358-9089; Classified phone 804-3582100; Classified fax 804-358-2163. E-mail: Copyright © by Style Weekly Inc. TM 2013 All rights reserved.


MARCH 2013 | 5 |

Available For Bridal Showers And Lingerie Parties.

Prom Time, From Head To Toe We Have You Covered For Less.

The Beauty in Being You. Fiamour | 3030 W Cary Street | 445-2435 | lingerie • loungewear • pajamas • bridal gifts • bath products • candles

get your weekly

SCOOP Style Weekly Editor-in-Chief Jason Roop offers highlights from the week’s issue, updates from the newsroom and tips for the weekend ahead. Subscribe at to receive the Scoop free in your e-mail inbox every Thursday.

| 6 | March 2013


It s’ ChicAgain! Upscale Consignment | New fun fashions arriving daily…

Where Thrifty is the New Envy.©

Sycamore Sq Shopping Ctr | 1225 Sycamore Square | Midlothian VA, 23113 804-897-CHIC (2442) | Mon–Fri 10–7 • Sat 10-6 • Sun 1–5 | Find Us On Facebook

StylE &SubstancE Hot products, new ventures and local discoveries.


karen newton

Brand New Bag

As the calendar turns to spring, why not switch your purse for something lighter and more eye-catching? Handbags by the Passage is the name of Teresa and Joel Howard’s North Side business. They make purses in a host of sizes and color combinations. With contrasting luxurious fabrics and distinctive button closures, these one-of-a-kind bags are a beautiful way to enter the new season. ($55 pictured, prices vary.) You can find them at the Visual Arts Studio, 208 W. Broad St. 644-1368.


ď Ź


|7 |

2013 photo by scott Elmquist

st y l e & s u b s ta n c e

How to Open Your Own Business by 30

photo by ash daniel



t’s hardly surprising that a woman who grew up with five dogs, two cats, two horses and six ducks and no siblings became a master at communicating with animals. What’s unexpected is that she went to college for music, thinking she that was her path. “But I realized it wasn’t a perfect fit,” Valerie Paul says. “I wanted music to remain a hobby.” Off she went to dog training school to become a certified master trainer, followed by spending the next three years doing in-home dog training. “How could I not dedicate myself to these guys?” she asks, gesturing to the two dogs sleeping at her feet. Her business gradually grew until she found a prime building to establish her own business, Impawsible Pups at 2109 Spencer Road. The 3,600-square-foot space, which opened last July, is part kennel, part doggie day care, part pet grooming spa and part store. “The most satisfying thing about my work is seeing the customers’ gratitude for how their dogs are,” she

says. “They’ve had mental and physical stimulation and they’re happy dogs. I love working with dogs, but I really do it to see the owners’ reactions to it.” If you’re wondering how to make your pup’s behavior all it could be, take a tip or three from Paul: Keep it fun and keep it short. “It’s like training a 2-year-old child,” she says. “Your dog is not going to sit for hours listening to you.” Don’t be afraid to say no. “Each dog is different in their reaction, but you need to convey that what they’re doing is wrong, just like with a child. Find a way that works with your pet.” A tired dog is a happy dog. “Work them out — run them, walk them, bike them. Do something to wear them out. They’ll be more willing to do as told.” Keep at it. “Take time out for your dog every day. Too many people treat dogs like accessories, but they’re living, breathing creatures. If you take time with them, the rewards come back tenfold.” Impawsible Pups can be contacted at 285-2359.

how to



iana Mathews has always had a passion for midcentury modern items, collecting furniture, lamps and cookware to furnish her Church Hill home. A few years ago she even did a popup shop at a First Fridays Art Walk to test the waters. She learned that she wasn’t the only one with a taste for the distinctive designs of the ’60s and ’70s. That led to establishing a website for Era Vintage (, where she posts new finds on a regular basis. “That design aesthetic is what I’m drawn to. I buy whatever my taste leads me to,” she says. “I even have a ’71 Volvo station wagon.” And soon she’ll have a brick and mortar shop in Church Hill at 2241 Venable St., in part because of a seed grant from Bon Secours and her determination to open her own business. “I’m 30 now and I’m great with that,” she says, “but I was ready to make a transition in my life, and 30 was a good mile marker. Choosing 30 gave me a time goal for myself.” Her advice for how to start your own business: Put every single ounce of your energy into it. “Anyone can have an online presence or Etsy shop, but my goal was to have my own identity.” Talking to potential customers is key. “I asked what people would like to see in my business and I heard things I couldn’t have known otherwise.” Take advice from others. “Starting from nothing is intimidating. Do all the reading people tell you to.” When dealing with licenses and legalities, ask for help. “I found both Chesterfield County and Richmond city [governments] to be very helpful. People were helpful across the board. If I went to the wrong room, they told me what the right room was.” Don’t skimp on promoting your business. “I talked to friends and everyone I could to get the word out. There’s a lot to be said for self-promotion. And use social media.” Mathews ought to know what works. “I’ve already exceeded what I ever thought I would.” Era Vintage can be contacted at 3498153.


ho hasn’t heard or seen historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s quotation, “Wellbehaved women seldom make history”? It shows up on T-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, greeting cards and all sorts of websites and blogs. But do you really know of any misbehaving women who have

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changed the course of history? The Virginia Historical Society’s Behind the Scenes tour focuses on women this month with a look at letters, diaries, official records, reminiscences and books in their collection, all written by women. Assistant archivist L. Paige Newman will discuss women who

intentionally challenged the status quo – type A misbehavers – and even those who didn’t try to make history but did anyway – type B history-makers. You may even leave with new motivation to misbehave. The tour is Saturday, March 23, from 10:30 a.m.-noon at the Virginia Historical Society, 428 N. Boulevard.

photo by scott elmquist

How to Celebrate Women’s History Month

Era Vintage wares were shown in a recent collaboration with Modern Artifacts in Carytown.

s t y l e & s u b sta n c e

Pop Quiz with Cynthia Grier Lotze Poet, Teacher


f there’s one thing Cynthia Grier Lotze knows how to do, it’s use her time wisely. During the school year, she teaches creative writing and literature at St. Catherine’s School, inspiring a love of the written word and, as she says: “Helping teenagers not destroy themselves during the teen years. I try to teach them to advocate for themselves.” Her summers are spent at professional residencies

photo by ash daniel

away from Richmond, where she writes poetry among other writers and visual artists. “I try to forget that I do anything but write poetry during the summer,” she says. “During the school year, the only time I can write is at 5:30 a.m. because by the end of the school day, everything I have has gone to my students.” Fortunately, she found the energy to take a pop quiz with Belle. Favorite thing about being an adult: Living alone. 2. Dream vacation: The prairies of the Midwest. 3. Guilty pleasure: Wine happy hours. I like to get a $5 glass of wine after school and ease into the night. 4. Music she’s listening to: Father John Misty, “Everything That Happens Happens Today” by Brian Eno and David Byrne and

5. 6.





North African desert blues music. I love the hand claps and the syncopation. Coffee or tea? Tea. Favorite Richmond restaurant? My new favorite is Dutch and Co. [in Church Hill] and my long time old favorite is Ipanema Cafe. What’s the girliest thing about you? I really love getting my toes done. I do bikram yoga and I have to see my feet a lot. I get pretty disgusting in class but that’s one part of me that gets to be pretty that I love to look at. Hardest part of getting dressed: Being teacher-appropriate without boring myself. My friend calls it my “teacher drag.” Finish this sentence: I could teach a class in how to … own high school. But only because I’ve done it twice.


MARCH 2013 | 9 |

st y l e & s u b s ta n c e

How to Give Back by Not Cooking

photo by scott elmquist


photo by scott elmquist


ll of us have days when we don’t feel like cooking. One way to let someone else prepare your meals while contributing to worthy causes is by shopping at May Fair House. The gift shop has been run by a group of women volunteers under the auspices of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church since 1978. It has a selection of entrees such as chicken pot pie, spaghetti pie, black bean cakes and beef burgundy, all prepared by volunteers. The shop also features a selection of decorative gifts, including bowls and platters, tote bags, picture frames, jewelry and gifts for babies and children. All proceeds  are used for outreach projects with a focus on assisting women and children at risk, including the Children’s Home Society of Virginia, Hope for Humanity, the Massey Cancer Center and the Peter Paul Development Center.  The shop is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.3 p.m., and Friday 10 a.m.-1 p.m. 6000 Grove Ave., 2823004.

errie Powers Miller has always considered herself an artist. A visual artist and painter, she’s been paying the bills as the resident theatrical set designer for Theatre IV and Barksdale Theatre, now the Virginia Repertory Theatre, for years, designing the sets at the Hanover Tavern space and most of the tour shows for schools. “Making something new with my hands is all I can remember wanting to do,” Miller says. “It became my way of communicating what I feel about what I see, especially nature, to others so they could feel that way as well. I learned early in life that I could have an effect on folks’ mental environment. Art is about what I can give the viewer.” Miller had been working on a series of paintings when she decided to put some of the simple imagery on shirts. “My paintings are more painterly, spirituallike images of clouds and trees. T-shirts are another medium that lets me share my imagery with a larger public. Second,

the wearer can carry their mood or message, their joy of life and share it with others. Again, it’s giving something to others. I enjoy wearing my identity and probably a lot of people do.” She calls the line of 100-percent cotton Tshirts Dharmatic by Terre, and the tags read, “Art with a Dharmatic lift for the elevation of the spirit.” Available in lavender, blue, green, teal and red, they’re screen-printed with words such as “breathe” and “lift” with simple leaf patterns. “I have several signature icons I use in my art,” Miller says. “A leaf is one — it is my autograph, you could say.” “It’s about lifting up, breathing and finding our connection with the world,” she says. “Hopefully, anyone who views or experiences my art will feel peace. I guess these are very Buddhist philosophies but I see it as healthy living.” Dharmatic T’s are carried at the Visual Arts Studio at 208 W. Broad St., at Pink, 3158 W. Cary St., and in local yoga shops.

How to Wear Your Identity

Joan Bruns, Pate Mears, Eileen Walker, Judy Kidd

How to Tackle Spring Cleaning ow that it’s March, there’s motivation for a thorough cleaning to get ready for the breezy, warm months ahead. Be realistic when tackling spring cleaning. Decide which rooms you want to hit first in case you lose your motivation. And this is no time to multitask. Focus on one room and one chore at a time to ensure you get the best results for your time. This is the time to: • Wipe down walls and blinds. • Wash curtains. • Defrost the freezer and clean the oven.

| 10 | MARCH 2013


• Remove books and knickknacks and dust bookshelves. • Swap heavy winter blankets and comforters for something lighter. • Vacuum and shampoo rugs and carpet. • Wipe down ceiling fan blades. • Dust and polish all wooden pieces. • Clean upholstered furniture by taking outside to beat and then vacuuming the frame. • Change the battery on your smoke detector.

And remember, any clutter you can throw away or donate along the way is that much less to clean next year. If it sounds like a lot, tackle just one room a weekend until the whole house is spotless and ready for the sun to shine in. It’s a satisfying way to welcome spring. photo illustration by chris Mason


Be Ready For

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st y l e & s u b s ta n c e

Way to Go March is full of adventures for the culturally curious.


Karen Newton

Venture to Timba Land

Modern Art’s Birthday

Promise of Pinback

You Bet Your Life

The plan: Hear high-voltage Cuban music.

The plan: Take a quick tour of seminal modern art.

The plan: See an old-school indie band in a small venue.

The plan: Spend an afternoon with a Marx Brother.

Tiempo Libre

Where to go: CenterStage on March 2 at 8 p.m. for Tiempo Libre, playing with the Richmond Symphony. The Grammy-nominated band is known for its seductive and hard-driving interpretation of timba, a Cuban music form based on salsa, American rhythm and blues and Afro-Cuban folk music. Tickets start at $10.

Where to go: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on March 7 at 6:30 p.m. for “3 in 30: the Advent of American Modernism at the 1913 Armory Show.” The chief curator of American art, Sylvia Yount, will lead a 30-minute walk and talk about the American artists in the collection who organized and submitted work to the landmark exhibition that astonished New Yorkers accustomed to realistic art. Imagine how scandalous it must have seemed. No registration required, so just show up at the visitors’ desk.


Where to go: The Canal Club on March 16 at 9 p.m. for the San Diego band Pinback. If you don’t know it, check out the album “Summer in Abaddon” for a primer. The music is unique, absolutely crisp and lacking the reverb that defines much indie music. It’s moody, melodic pop with verses and choruses tossed back and forth between the two singers. This is the idealsized room for this sound.

What to eat: Seafood is integral to Cuban cuisine, so get in the mood by eating in the neighborhood. Rappahannock is two blocks away and features a lively bar scene with prosecco on tap, a stellar raw bar and an interesting menu for those who like their food cooked.

What to eat: Head upstairs to Amuse before the tour. From 5-6 p.m., there’s a fixed price menu of three courses for $28, a terrific way to experience the kitchen’s talent and still make it back downstairs by 6:30. Or, go up afterward — Amuse is open until 9.

What to eat: Tio Pablo is a short walk and the beef tongue tacos are worth the two blocks. For the record, beef tongue tastes amazingly like pot roast. Tacos de nopales are a vegetarian’s dream with sautéed cactus, tomatoes and jalapeños. Pork lovers should try the carnitas. Their tequila menu is diverse and well-priced, too.

Photo by daniel Azoulay


Photo by drew reynolds

| 12 | MARCH 2013



Where to go: The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen on Sunday, March 24, at 2 p.m. for “An Afternoon with Groucho.” Actor, director and playwright Frank Ferrante recreates the role he’s done in New York, London and on PBS portraying comedian Groucho Marx. No one did innuendo better than Groucho. The two-act comedy uses some of Groucho’s best one-liners with an accompanist for his songs and a lot of audience participation.

Kitchen 64

What to eat: Catch brunch at Kitchen 64, where breakfast and lunch items include smoked salmon eggs Benedict and the Bryan Park cold plate. It can get busy, so allow enough time before the drive to the show.


Co-academic Sponsors Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond present


















March 21-24, 2013

Exclusive Media Sponsor

All films have English subtitles and are presented by their actors and directors.

21st annual • Byrd Theatre • Richmond, Va. • (804) 827-FILM •

fa s h i o n c u e s


original spirit Two Richmond jewelry designers harness the power of creation. by


hen I was a young lady I had an obsession with my grandmother’s jewelry box. I would lie on her bed, spill the contents out in front of me and carefully examine each piece, secretly arranging those pieces into categories that made beautiful sense. Since forever there has been a sacred and very comforting element to collecting and creating jewelry for me. In the past year I have been able to narrow my focus to working with mainly natural materials including

leather, bone, copper, glass and brass. I draw inspiration from many aspects of life but pull intensely from power symbols of the occult, earthly healing magic and the positive creative energy of those around me. I try to encapsulate a sense of secrecy in each piece that I create while reflecting a bit of myself. For me it’s a learning and developing process that continues to grow with each season. You can find Athame Jewels on Facebook.

Elysia Houghton

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photos by scott elmquist

lauren healy

Taupe and black leather warrior bands with copper and tear drop embellishment ($12). Handcrafted bone and teeth resin pendants in bronzed cabochon settings ($35). Feather necklace with blessed bead ($20). Individual crystal, bone and feather earrings ($8). Adjustable hammered copper ear cuffs ($5).

Eliza SpEll

photos by scott elmquist


Clockwise from top left: Skull ox bone rosary with fluorite ($120); one-of-a-kind quartz necklace (price upon request). Quartz pouch necklace ($100). Large quartz horizon necklace ($100). Crystal skull paired with aqua aura quartz necklace ($100). Tanzan aura and pyrite necklace ($63). Quartz herkimer necklace ($80). Thor’s hammer earrings ($17). Labradorite merkaba single earring ($33). Single spike earring ($17). Vintage mini-spike earring ($27).

’ve been making little things forever and around two and a half years professionally. I kept making stuff and enjoyed the process and got a lot of feedback about it so I continued. A lot of it is material-based -- I just got back from a huge gem show in Tucson, [Ariz.], and got a lot of crystals and beads, and that dictates what you can do and not do, using problem-solving skills, and mine are a little different. I’m designing for someone who wears jewelry but who isn’t showing off. It’s more discreet, and more about how it feels and about the little details that make a difference. It’s what I want to be doing and it’s kind of scary doing it by myself, making the big decisions confidently. There is an amateur side to jewelry making and I’m not interested in doing anything that’s already out there. It makes me want to step up my game.” Online at

MARCH 2013

belle | 15 |

fa s h i o n c u e s


Princess With Purpose Belle: I saw a picture of you first in a sari — why a sari? Bond: My parents are from Bangladesh and I was born there as well before we moved to New York when I was 2. The crime rate in New York was very bad and my parents wanted a better life for my family, so they moved us here to Richmond in, I think, 1999. I don’t wear saris often or just out for the night, but for special occasions. The picture you saw was from a cousin’s wedding in Florida — I have seven aunts. I do like to look like a princess, but not every day.

people breathe and incubate their lungs and I am studying pre-med at J. Sargent Reynolds now, but my short-term goal right now is to speak out about love. So why the name change? I changed my last name to Bond to be more like James Bond. I like to embody his image to look fabulous, feel confident all the time and live without fear. He gets the job done, he’s confident and sexy, and I want to emulate these characteristics and help others do the same. I want to encourage people be more successful in their lives and to get them to realize that life is short, every moment counts and we are here to live it and make the choice to be happy, after all it is a choice. I want to write a book and be on the radio. I have already started blogging and using Facebook to spread my message.

And what do your parents do that they moved around so much? Actually they are very famous in Bangladesh as they are professional dancers, Indian and Bengali traditional folk dancing. They met on stage and probably because of them I like attention. How does that come across in your style? Accessories, accessories, and accessories! I love rings and necklaces that are bold and flashy, but my true everyday style is business casual. I love wearing black dress pants and black heels together. All my shoes are either black or brown — I don’t wear colored shoes. I buy the rings off eBay from China and Japan and I love Carytown shops like Bygones for 1920s items and Lex’s of Carytown for their dresses. So are you a good dancer then? My parents wanted me to be, but I wanted to do what I was interested in. My long-term goal is to become a doctor and study respiratory therapy, as my grandfather died from smoking. I want to help

| 16 | MARCH 2013


Where do you get this zest for life? Well, I just started exploring life outside of religion and listening to the philosophies of Dr. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, JFK and Bob Marley. They have a lot to say and so do I. I am very curious about life and the world. I wanted to find ways to help others and have a reason to live. First I looked into politics then religion and found that love was the ultimate truth to everything. Love is my religion. Bond’s blog, “Nawrin Bond: Words of Love” is online at interviewed and styled by

Ranee Kamens

photo by scott elmquist / photo illustration by kira jenkins

Nawrin Bond dresses up and speaks out.

RIchMOND tRIANglE PlAyERS presents


The Busy World Is Hushed by Keith Bunin

Directed by Dexter Ramey


Featuring Linda Beringer, Chris Hester and Chris O’Neill fEbRuARy 27 – MARch 23 The Executive Women in Business Achievement Awards honors women who have exhibited monumental success in senior level executive positions. The candidates must share a commitment to business growth, professional excellence and advocacy for women who are shaping the economic future of our region. Please visit for complete guidelines, selection criteria, and the official nomination form. Deadline for entry is May 10, 2013.

RIchMOND tRIANglE PlAyERS thEAtRE 1300 Altamont Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230 (804) 346-8113 The 2012-13 Season Is Supported In Part By Funding From



March 2013 | 17 |



Spring Spirits Forget brilliant, perky colors and frills. This season, Angela Bacskocky wants to make you cry.



Hilary Langford

eally early on, I would take apart my doll clothes and make patterns from them,” says fashion designer Angela Bacskocky (pronounced botchkose-kee). When we speak, she’s just hours out of a leather-making class and ecstatic at the thought of dismantling her own shoes to create patterns for her upcoming spring line, Ghost. “I’ve slowly become more obsessed with leather and have realized that’s what I’m going to do all the time,” she says. “It’s weird because I’m vegetarian. I never know how to feel about that.” Last year’s collection, Nest, was her first, and featured impeccable leather designs alongside lush, silk garments, and handbags so soft they snuggle every curve of the body. Strangely organic and adorned with found objects such as bone and feather, Bacskocky’s designs are distinctive, wearable art.

| 18 | MARCH 2013


photos by Scott elmquist

Angela Bacskocky's illustrations of her upcoming "Ghost" collection show ethereal silhouettes in blue and gray fabrics that float against the figure

Draped in flowing gray and blue fabrics, the Ghost collection marks uncharted territory for the Virginia Commonwealth University graduate, something that didn’t come easily. “Nest was me in a nutshell. This isn’t me at all,” she says, laughing. “I am specifically trying to be different. It’s still cohesive with the rest of the clothes I’ve made and the style I’ve developed so far because I can’t really escape my own style whether I like it or not.” While Nest was a strong, defiant line, its successor is frail but beautiful. Bacskocky explains that the idea of this collection came about when a studio mate and his girlfriend had an argument that created palpable tension in the room. “It reminded me of a time that I’d felt like that personally and I got this wave of that feeling that rushed over me and was put back in that memory so intensely. I started crying while I was sewing,” she says. “Some things in life that you just can’t shake.” Despite living in London for a year and working for runway royalty Felder Felder and Alexander McQueen, it’s these obscure, private moments that most ignite her creativity. Another muse is a tightly knit group of artists, photographers and

musicians that she works with on exhibitions of her work. “If you are my friend, I’m probably going to rope you in and get the good stuff out of you. I’m a vampire,” she says, laughing again. The Ghost exhibition will attempt to overload the senses and trigger a flood of emotions. “I want people to cry!” the 30-something designer says. “It’s so personal to me, so maybe I’ll be the only

one crying, but I hope I can get through to someone.” Crafting a self-exposing project while being marketable can be a challenge, but it’s one that Bacskocky enjoys. The artist already has come up with the concept for her fall line, a unisex creation called Puritan. “After all of that crying and dying brought on by having too many exes in the room for Ghost, the only way to rise up is as this sexless, genderless, abstinent martyr that says I don’t need anyone,” she says. She describes the designs as very boxy, oversized and entirely out of her element. “It’s a way to push myself with my silhouettes.” Bacskocky owns a house, or nest, as she refers to it, in Richmond, and acknowledges that it’s difficult to think about the next level that could take her elsewhere. “I know I shouldn’t box myself in to one place,” she says. “When I started this, I wanted to travel, so ultimately I would love to be able to make this a floating label — a different city for every line.” The designer’s work can be found online at


MARCH 2013 | 19 |



movies | in-theatre dining | bar and lounge | corporate and private events  


6:30pm Sunday, February 24th

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| 20 | March 2013




b o dy & s o u l

How to Get Back in Gear Sometimes exercise feels like exorcise.



Photo illustration by Chris mason

How to ExErcisE With the IntErnEt A large variety of free workout videos as well as recipes, healthy living tips and articles on motivation are offered. Good descriptions of each video explain exactly what to expect and outline safety precautions. An online community is available to cheer your progress.

Julie Geen

extend the holiday eating debacle for as long as I can, stocking up on the very last shipment of eggnog. This way, I can add it to my coffee long past the time when even the slackers have put their decorations away. When it runs out, I make cookies and have those with my coffee. I dip leftover mashed potatoes in breadcrumbs and fry them in butter. Then I cover them in gravy. The mashed potatoes already have butter in them. And sour cream. And cream cheese. Even worse, I stop exercising, or even moving, really. I recall with bitterness the year before, when I ran a 5-K over the holidays. “Ran” may not be the right word. I came in with the postpartum mothers pushing strollers and the people wearing jeans, but I finished and I was proud. My mother and my best friend, always reliably sedentary, now say things like “I’ll come over after I go to Curves,” or “Oh, I was at my dance class when you called.” My father walks for miles nearly every morning before his workout. My sister drops to the floor unexpectedly and goes into a shoulder stand in the middle of conversations. My husband swims. All that is left is me, the rebel who refuses to move. I hate the way I feel. The green smoothies I drink every morning (with my cookies) go a long way towards sustaining life, but my body feels stiff, my energy ebbs and my pants tighten. Soon it will be time to wear shorts and go to the pool. I know I have to do something. Because I am in a hateful state of rebellion and cannot bear to see anyone fit and in cute exercise clothes, the gym and any kind of classes are out. Frankly, I don’t want to leave the house. What do I like to do, I ask myself? I like to sit in a chair in front of the Internet. So I find an 11 minute chair cardio workout on I am so loathe to start moving that I sit through the Accubrush commercial I could have skipped after three seconds and watch people paint crisp, clean lines around their crown molding. But I get through my seated workout

fitness This site offers paid plans from $10-$99 monthly, as well as some free exercise videos. Premium members get custom diets, including gluten-free, and online personal training workouts. VIP Premium Plus gives you your own personal trainer who designs a custom workout and is on call by phone, text or email.

without incident or moving too much and enjoy some praise from the instructor and a tiny little ember of hope that I might one day break a sweat again. The next day, I Google “free workout videos” and find Smartmom; she is terribly thin and works out in what looks like her laundry room. There are lots of ads flashing around on these free workout sites, and I get momentarily distracted by one that promises it can tell me who has unfriended me on Facebook. I end up back on and select a 14-minute cardio dance workout, excerpted from the “Bollywood Burn” DVD. The people in this video are gorgeous and wearing filmy little belly dance outfits. I join them wearing my pajama bottoms and my exercise bra. It’s not a good look, but I am alone in my own bedroom and I flail away. A few days later, I discover that people all over the world are taping their Zumba classes at community centers and putting them on Youtube. Despite the allure of dancing with an enthusiastic group of strangers in jingle skirts, I chose to work out with Dulcinea Lee Hellings, who calls herself “Real Hollywood Trainer.” But what I like about her is that she is in her ordinary living room and she announces that because she has a cold, this will be a light dance workout that you can do in your socks. There is no music, because of copyright laws, which is fine by me because I’m pretending this isn’t happening. Before we start, she announces she forgot her timer and goes snuffling and jingling (she wears a jingle skirt, too) off-camera to get it. This is my kind of person. I dance for 30 minutes and sort of have fun. After my week of virtual exercise class, I am not exactly raring to go for a run, but I am pleasantly sore and aware that I have a body. One that needs care. And I know that there is an Internet full of exercise classes of every kind that require little or no money, no cute workout clothes, no human contact or even shoes. Only willingness. A $20 a month membership provides unlimited yoga classes. Select your class from a large list of all styles; filter your choice by target area, amount of time you have for your workout and level of difficulty. For $18 a month, get unlimited Pilates classes with a variety of teachers and all levels and styles. Select your class by prop -from none at all to Fletcher braided towel-this site has them all. Work out with the stars and pay the price. Single classes of this balletinspired workout are $35, a monthly membership is $280. Former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers leads you and her Hollywood elite clients through a workout that promises “ballet muscles.” Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel are among the fans.


MARCH 2013 | 21 |

b o dy & s o u l

private parts

Questions of Identity A psychologist explores the realities of gender dysphoria. by julie geen


isa Griffin loves her job. “It’s made me realize that humans have an incredible amount of courage,” she says. A clinical psychologist for more than 20 years, Griffin works primarily with transgender children and adults. The term transgender, which is a few decades old, applies to someone who doesn’t fit into society’s definition of male or female. “Gender identity occurs on a matrix or a spectrum,” Griffin says. “So, when someone that sticks out in the leotard at ballet class. They comes in to see me, someone in-between male and are letting their child live the way their brains are female, my question is how can we figure out the telling them to live.” easiest way for you to live. In our culture, it’s very In cases where children consistently maintain hard to live between genders, as neither male nor they are a the opposite sex, drugs that block puberfemale.” ty can be prescribed to give a child more time to She also acknowledges that things are changdecide if switching genders is necessary. When the ing. Some corporations offer insurance plans that drugs are stopped, normal puberty is resumed, or cover transgender surgery. What used to be called in some cases hormone treatments begin, enabling gender identity disorder in the diagnostic and staan easier gender transition process. Studies have tistical manual likely will be changed shown that if a gender transition is Dr. Lisa Griffin works with to gender dysphoria in a new edi- transgender clients to resolve going to occur, the earlier the better tion, due out later this year. Instead socially, emotionally and physically. issues and move forward of being defined as a disorder, the Not everyone opts for a gender in a changing society. new term identifies people who feel transition. “If you are mildly gender they’ve been assigned to the wrong sex. Advocates dysphoric and you are well adjusted in most ways,” say that brain scans and more research could lead Griffin says, “then transitioning is an option. There to gender dysphoria becoming classified as a mediare several college- and high-school-age kids I’ve cal and not a psychiatric condition. seen who really have a choice. They can decide For some, getting help is a matter of life or death. with their parents if they would be happier living “Being gender dysphoric is a truly miserable expeas a male or female, as the case may be. It might rience,” Griffin says. “I have talked to hundreds of not be life or death for them. It’s a very complicated people like this. And they are the ones who have population to work with.” survived their childhoods. I’ve known males who Griffin stresses that not all children who exhave tried to cut off their penis as a child and many hibit opposite gender traits are transgender or who have tried to commit suicide. And there are gay. “There is a huge difference between gender those who succeeded who I never got the opportuidentity and gender expression. A lot of little boys nity to meet.” play dress up in girl clothes and like the color pink Not all the transgender children that Griffin and they’re not going to grow up to be trans women. sees are unhappy. One child, a male at birth, startThey’re going to grow up to be sensitive or artistic ed living as a female at age 3. The parents changed or possibly effeminate men, straight or gay.” pronouns, clothing and the name. “Some people In the end, what transgender kids need is what all honor what their child wants,” Griffin says, “and kids need. “Be curious about who they are,” Griffin their biggest problem may be how to hide the thing says. “Be respectful of who they are. Delight in their

| 22 | MARCH 2013


growth and their evolution and look forward to them having an exciting adolescence and adulthood.” For information see or call 704-458-0433.

Minding Your manners by Lisa Griffin What if you find yourself in a conversation with someone you think might be transgender? What if someone discloses that they’re transgender to you? Here are some guidelines for sensitive communication. Do: • Use pronouns (he, she, him, her) appropriate to their gender presentation. If you can’t tell, don’t use pronouns, or ask which pronouns they prefer. • Interact with them as you would anyone else. • Keep the knowledge of someone’s transgender status to yourself; it is theirs to disclose as they see fit. Do Not: • Ask what their “old” or “real” or “birth” name was. • Make any assumptions about their sexual orientation. • Ask them anything about surgeries or other private medical information. • Offer any opinions you might have about transgender people or their experiences. Some of the most offensive comments include the following: “You can’t be a real [man or woman] if you don’t have the surgery.” “Sorry, but you’re a [man or woman] and will always be a [man or woman] to me.” “You look great! I never would have known you weren’t a real (or born) [man or woman].” “It’s wrong to change what God made you.”

photo by ash daniel

y’sval kl ti r e e es te F s W y e l Da che y St th an r M a E in


RVA Earth Day is an outdoor street festival providing education and resources that will help Richmonders incorporate eco-friendly practices into their daily lives, making the city a greener place to live. The festival will attract over 6,000 people of all ages and has something for everyone. Kids Art & Activities centered around Richmond’s Unique Eco-System & River Wildlife Local Produce from Farmers’ Markets • Flood Wall Climb with Zipline Local Food • Outdoor Gear Swap • Live Music

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J ulie Geen, Elizabet h J ewet t an d Hilary Langford Compiled by

Carrie On “American Idol” veteran, country superstar and advocate for prevention of vehicle violence Carrie Underwood comes to the Richmond Coliseum, 601 E. Leigh St., March 21 as part of her Blown Away Tour. Tickets are $43.50-$63.50. — E.J.

On the Money Need a funny British chick-lit, romance sort of book? Jojo Moyes fills the bill with “Me Before You” (Viking; $27.95), the story of a modern-day workingclass girl hired to care for a bitter, unpleasant, quadriplegic young man from a wealthy family. It’s all fun and games until Moyes tears your heart out in the best possible way. Enjoy your good cry. — J.G.

Photo by Deen van Meer

Wholly Ghosts Filled with banshees, the devil, ghost dogs and Richmond’s own earthquake, “The Old Weird South” (QW Publishers; $13.95), edited by Tim Westover, features supernatural short stories ranging from literary pieces to family tales of the sort told by aunties and grandmas, hopefully on the porch with a side of sweet tea. Pray none of them are true. — J.G.

More Miserable Anne Hathaway is no slouch in the movie version. But “Les Misérables” is at its rousing, Parisian best on a stage with professional singers (no offense, Russell Crowe). The 25th anniversary production of the musical stops in Richmond at the Landmark Theater, 6 N. Laurel St., March 26-31. Tickets are $43-$83. — E.J.

Chorus Work The History of Apple Pie sounds like a band that grew up listening to things as varied as the Breeders and My Bloody Valentine, but its members deliver a freshly baked sound all their own. With an affinity for dissonance, snuffed-out guitars and gilded harmonies, these Londoners pop and bang on their debut album, “Out of View” (Rough Trade). Riffs grip and twist catchy pop choruses over 10 tracks, preventing overly sweet results. It proves to be a recipe for sonic success. — H.L.

Photo by anthony sylvestro

Nailing It From the Great Dismal Swamp rises a lush sound, cloaked in the air of days long ago. The Last Bison is a self-proclaimed mountain chamber band brandishing consummate picking skills and strings that rush forth with the force of mighty rivers. Its first full-length, “Inheritance” (Republic Records), is a curious blend of traditional folk and orchestral elements that will inevitably draw Mumford and Sons comparisons, but boasts authenticity that those blokes could only dream of. Did we mention they play goat toenails? — H.L.

Egg Heads Easter Sunday tends to get crowded with church, family and recovering from chocolatebunny-induced sugar comas. So start your celebrating Saturday with Maymont’s annual Dominion Family Easter on March 30. Kids and adults alike will love the egg hunts, magic shows, storytelling and other activities from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free while specific activity prices vary. — E.J.


MARCH 2013 | 25 |


at home

Soft Landing Heather Crislip finds a home in Richmond — and helps others do the same. by Melissa Scott Sinclair


eather Crislip’s house isn’t quite what it seems. Its gracious, columned porch and redbrick exterior are Fan standards, straight from 1908. Walk inside, and the three-story-high, skylighted living room screams 1984. It’s weird. But it works. Just like her home, Crislip surprises. Her résumé might as well be subtitled “wonk.” She’s served as a mayor’s policy adviser, chief of staff to a Hawaii state senator and head of a public policy pro-

| 26 | MARCH 2013


gram at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. But Crislip also cares deeply about people who are struggling. And that’s what caught the eye of Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia a venerable nonprofit that works for fair housing access. Last year the organization, often known simply as Home, was searching for a new president and chief executive. Of more than 150 candidates, Crislip was the first person interviewed. “And I was pretty much blown away,” its board chairwoman, Velma Ballard, says. Crislip had a law and policy background, Ballard says, yet was down-toearth and passionate about helping people. When Crislip was only 23 — and attending law school at night — she ran a welfare-to-work center in New Haven, Conn. “She was like a breath of fresh air — not neces-

The lotus-blossom sarily perky-perky,” Ballard hanging lamps says, but someone who bewere lucky finds lieved wholeheartedly in at Shades of Light. the group’s mission. The Honed granite gives nonprofit hired her in June. the countertops a Crislip has wasted no modern matte finish. time. She’s interested in tackling one intractable issue in the region: segregation by transportation. Just 53 percent of jobs in the region are accessible by public transportation, she says, which is a serious barrier to lower-income Richmonders. In addition to its policy work, the 42-year-old organization also counsels individual renters and homeowners. Recently, it helped a couple buy the East End house they’d been renting for a decade after it was foreclosed on. They became first-time homeowners at ages 65 and 70.



The soaring ceiling in the living room gives the house an unexpectedly open interior. The third floor’s vacant for now; Crislip plans to move the couple’s bedroom upstairs “once everybody wants a little more distance from each other.”

Crislip and her husband, Andrew, found their Fan District house in 2008. The radical 1980s redo of a century-old house might have made a preservationist faint, but Crislip was intrigued. “It was rough around the edges when we bought it,” she says. “And so I felt like it was an opportunity to make it ours and put our own imprint on it.” Since they moved in, the couple has worked to reconcile the two eras. Crislip updated the kitchen to feel completely contemporary, with clean, maple cabinetry and black granite countertops. The carbonized bamboo floor, with its streaks of dark and light, echoes both the house’s century-old heart-of-pine and 1980s herringbone maple flooring. The big, bright space in the rear of the house immediately draws in visitors. “I feel like it sets the context for the rest of the modern house now,” Crislip says. “With this anchoring it, the rest of it feels fresher.” Just as she intended, the family has added personal touches. In the backyard, the Crislips built a small fish pond on an old foundation. It’s occupied by a 200-pound bronze hippo named Pomegranate. In the living room, Crislip displays the political campaign buttons she’s collected since she was 16. It’s a riotous mix of candidates both famous and forgotten. There’s Romney ’68 and Bush-Powell ‘92. There’s an official-looking medal for William Howard Taft and a button festooned with pineapples that says, “Hiram Fong — Hawaii’s Favorite Son.” Crislip, a Blacksburg native and graduate of the University of Mary Washington, moved to Honolulu with her husband, a history professor, in 2002. Crislip worked as chief of staff for state Sen. Norman Sakamoto, then served as chief of staff to the chancel-

at home

lor of the University of Hawaii. The couple loved Hawaii. Their house looked over Punchbowl Crater, the Honolulu skyline and the ocean. But after six years and the birth of their first daughter, it was time to go home to Virginia. Andrew secured a position at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he holds the William E. and Miriam S. Blake chair in the history of Christianity. Crislip led the public-policy program at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, where she focused on federal transportation policy. “But I was always looking for the right opportunity to serve in Richmond,” she says. Now, she’s home.

The Crislips have two daughters – Grace, 7, and Renna, 3 – as well as a golden retriever, Zelda, and two cats. “It’s always controlled chaos,” Crislip says. Crislip has collected political buttons since she was 16. She says her favorites are the first ladies’ buttons and political matchups that never came to pass.


MARCH 2013 | 27 |

g r e at ta s t e

an educated guest

Tip of the Tongue How to decipher restaurant speak.

A by

Ellie Basch

friend asked me recently whether there’s a difference between executive chef and chef de cuisine. She’d dined at a restaurant and the menu listed the two chefs’ names. I told her that technically the titles are the same: chief of the kitchen. In cases where the chef and investors own more than one establishment, the executive chef is the one who oversees multiple kitchens. Chef de cuisine is the chef who operates one of those restaurants owned by the executive chef. Next in line is sous chef, the right hand of the chef de cuisine. The sous chef oversees and works alongside the line cooks, who do the cooking during service, the garde manger, the cold station cook, the pastry chef, responsible for bread, pastry and dessert production — often reporting directly to the chef de cuisine, the dishwasher, and the prep cooks, usually new cooks who are deemed not skilled enough to cook on the line, or rail, yet. Commercial kitchens, especially restaurants, are high-stress environments. Cramped spaces, leaping fires, spattering oils and roiling steam, sharp edges, and limited time to churn out beautiful plates for hungry diners tend to create a tight bond among crew members — if they work well together — or a mutiny if there’s a warm body, someone who isn’t as skilled as the others, but doesn’t even try to improve. Fourteen years ago, my culinary brotherhood was the Southern Inn in Lexington, where I cooked for two years before moving to Richmond. I started as a commis, an apprentice, essentially a prep cook: peeling potatoes, dicing various sizes of onions, carrots and celery for the line cooks, washing and spinning buckets of lettuces, chopping and whipping fresh herbs into butter. At lunch or dinner service, I acted as a garde manger, assembling sandwiches, composing salads and garnishing desserts with fancy swirls of chocolate sauce and crème anglaise, a rich custard sauce. | 28 | MARCH 2013


After a few months, Jimmy, the saucier, the sauté cook, showed me how to filet fish, debone chicken, roast the carcasses for chicken stock, and make sauces from the precious liquid. Within a month I was skilled enough to break down (to clean, cut, portion and use scraps or skeleton of) whole salmon, flat fish, round fish or sides of tuna. It was then when Mike the rotisseur (roast cook — although his station combined grill, braise and fry-cook responsibilities) started teaching me how to break down various cuts of beef, lamb, pork, veal and rabbit. When finally I was allowed on the line, a whole set of rapid-fire commands had to be recalled on the fly. On weekends, tickets rolled in so quickly it was easy for me to get in the weeds, completely slammed. Thankfully Jimmy was there to save me. A typical dinner rush sounded like this: Chef: Table 20 … Order! Two mahi, one filet — rare, one chicken, one mahi — three mahi all day! Me: Three mahi! Out of mahi now, 86 mahi! Grill: One rare filet! Chef: 86 mahi! Coming up second (course) on table 20. Fire! One tuna — kill it, one veal. Joe, soufflé in 10. Me: Killing one tuna! Grill: Fire one veal! Joe (pastry): Soufflé in 10! Joe had to put the soufflé in the oven 10 minutes from now. I cooked the tuna until well done. In the kitchen, cooks repeat the chef’s orders as confirmation that we got them. That’s how we keep a la minute communication flowing during service. Line cooks must keep count of the inventory in the low boy (under-the-counter fridge) and in our heads. As soon as something is depleted to fewer than three portions, we yell out the count down to prevent staff from selling two chickens when we have only one left. In the beginning, when I easily got in the weeds,

photo by scott elmquist

the chef would sometimes say: Ellie, where’s that rabbit? I need it on the fly. (Or on the rail, meaning “I need it quickly.”) Thankfully, I got the hang of line cooking rather quickly and was never considered a warm body. I wasn’t in danger of being 86ed.

Chef Speak Primer Here’s more lingo commonly used in a commercial kitchen. 86: Out of something. Sometimes used as a verb to ax someone. “86 tuna” means we’re out of tuna. “Ellie was 86ed” means Ellie was fired. All day: The total amount. Comp: To give away for free, to compensate customers for restaurant’s mistake. Deuce, deuces: A table of two. Fire! Cook it now. Kill it: Well done, especially for items usually best tasting when less well done. Party/Top: The number of people at a table. Four-top (a table of four), 10-party (party of 10). Mise en place: pronounced meez ahn plaaz, meaning having all ingredients for a dish ready before you start cooking. Meez: short for mise en place, cooks often use to refer to their station’s readiness. “Hey Jim, got your meez ready? Don’t be like yesterday.”

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more to the story

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MARCH 2013 | 29 |

f i r st p e r s o n

Goodbye, Good Girl How can we let our best friend go?


e were obedience-school dropouts. Never having been a dog owner, I accidentally enrolled in the Marines when I would have preferred the Peace Corps. The general gave us choke chains and barked orders. We rebelled, dropped out and did it our own way — which was pretty much no way at all — but did involve hot dogs and licking. I’d agreed to foster Alizé, the red-nosed pit bull named after a liquor, for one weekend nearly 13 years ago. I was 24, my future husband and I had been dating for one month and we’d just finished reading the first in the Harry Potter series. We renamed her Hermione, though that went through a million permutations: Miami, Mione, Her-meown-ee and Mayan — a detail that did not escape our attention when we made the heart-wrenching decision to have her put down on Dec. 21, the date the Mayans supposedly proclaimed as the end of the world. For us, in many ways, it was. She was a flower girl in our wedding, a garland nestled between her short blond and white locks. She adopted first our kittens — allowing them to nurse and knead her —and then a few years later our son, allowing

| 30 | MARCH 2013


him to ride her and teach her spelling words. As a couple, we had few memories separate from her, from the largesse of holidays and anniversaries to the mundane of the everyday — sleeping, eating, walking from one room to another. She was embedded in the blueprint of our lives, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the back, but as constant as the foundation. When I mentioned that she’d ferried me from my early 20s into my late 30s, my 8-year-old son said: “Think how I feel, Mom. I’ve never had a day in my life without her as my dog.” The impact of this first up-close and personal death upon our son was profound. Usually disgusted by hugs and kisses, he began to seek them out, uncovering a deeply affectionate side of himself that hasn’t vanished since. He elected to orchestrate her funeral, selecting red roses to hand out to each mourner to be placed on her grave. He wrote a eulogy on his new dry-erase board: “You were the best sister I ever had. You were so sweat [sic]. I will miss you forever.” My father brought doughnuts and a roasted chicken. Several friends came with readings for the graveside. My stepfather, father and husband wept openly as they shov-


Valley Haggard

eled dirt into her grave, and through my own tears I was grateful that my son had such remarkable male role models and that every one of us had the chance to love our dog fiercely enough for such grief. We received a beautiful outpouring of support — phone calls, cards, detailed experiences from others who’d been through this before. An anonymous donor paid for a portion of our vet bill. Even so, in the days that followed I wrestled with the terrible feeling that I had failed her — not only in her death, a choice I willfully never imagined having to make, but also in her life. She was the only one I never once tried to be anyone else around. She saw me at my most selfish, ridiculous, small and ugly — without judgment or recrimination. She was the keeper of my secret selves, a witness to the worst of me, but also at times the best. Discovering what really matters, what’s truly important, what should come first, I feel as if I was just learning how to love her half as well as she loved me, and I hadn’t managed to keep her alive long enough to finish learning — in other words, forever. We may have been obedience-school dropouts but our dog was a magnificent teacher.

photos by valley haggard / photo illustration by joel Smith


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Belle Magazine March 2013  

Style Weekly's magazine for Richmond women. This month: Designers' personal spirit, decoding restaurant lingo, March event guide + more.

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