Equal Opportunity Slacking

It’s not just men who are dragging their heels towards adulthood, women all around me are failing to become the adults our mothers expected us to be. I am, after all, a 28 year old nanny. But it is the man-children who have received all the attention thanks to the Apatow-Rogan-Duplass media empire.

In Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Man-Child, Moira Weigel and Mal Ahern posit that:

“Lena Dunham may be living proof that the Man-Child is now equal opportunity.”

But, I think this is a little imprecise. Hannah Horvath is still too much of a Carrie Bradshaw to be a female Man-Child. Or shall we say, Lady-Girl? She wants to be famous and accomplished. She wants to grow up to be Joan Didion, and actually I think the show promises her future success. The delightful Greta Gerwig in Francis Ha also displays this charming, striving chutzpah despite her lack of talent. In other words, they care too much.

In Bridesmaids, and it seems most of her future movies, Kristin Wiig is also not quite a Lady-Girl, she is just a Lady-Loser. Unlike the Seth Rogans of the world, she isn’t having fun in her inertia. The cast of Bachelorette and Charlize Theron in Young Adult: also not enjoying their relative lack of responsibilities.

But in a new not-that-great movie by Michael Mohan, I think we are finally getting a more genuine Lady-Girl counterpart to the Man-Child. Lizzy Caplan in Save the Date (a movie that should have had about 200% more Martin Starr) plays a woman who is not really working that hard to improve herself or move forward in her life.

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This seems like an important step in the depiction of the modern lady for these reasons:

1. She is happy working at a book store and professes no desire to be anything else despite being in her early 30s.

2. Her lack of interest in marriage, children, professions, and other adult milestones is genuine

3. She has more fun because she is not good at being an adult. But it isn’t addiction-fueled manic fun. Like Seth Rogan’s many iterations, getting to be stoned/drunk all the time and not having any big professional pressures makes her a laid-back dudette.

Now the major problem with this Lizzy Caplan as the lady Seth Rogan game-changer is that Lizzy Caplan, despite being ridiculously hot, dates men in Save the Date who look like our real-life boyfriends and husbands. 725582_098save-the-date-online

Seth Rogen on the other hand gets to develop a gut, have an OK face, and date babes.

So the movie/show we really need in order to give women equal-opportunity slacking role models stars a 30 year old woman with love handles. She is having an awesome time drinking $8 bottles of wine every night and is not pursuing a law or medical degree. She is also not trying to be a famous artist or start her own bakery. Maybe she makes a cool $15,000 a year working at bike rental store where she hangs with her buds and shoots the shit. But her great sense of humor and laid back attitude have really won over her hot, but slightly over-organized, husband (maybe played by Paul Rudd in a fun twist).

Dana is a graduate student and nanny in Brooklyn.

The Politics of Lady Exercise

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I workout alone partly because I like the time to myself but also because the idea of revealing my embarrassing exercise interests to my very smart lady friends makes me uncomfortable. I really really wish that I was interested in CrossFit, so that I too could talk to the world about how strength is my only goal and how women have been shamed into lifting small weights as a new form of subjugation. Some very smart people have been talking about women’s right to take up space with fat, muscles, or whatever they please (I say women, because I don’t know these people and thus feel like the familiar “lady” would be unfair). Or I wish that I was a marathon runner who could link my fitness goals to being outside and conquering my fears. But,

1) CrossFit costs money and makes me worried about injuries

2) I am still subject to the ideology of taking up less space (hey, if we are being precise, we don’t choose our ideologies)

3) Training and running for marathons takes too much time.

So here is my meager defense of my exercise style:

1) The ability to keep working out is entirely dependent on how you feel WHILE you are doing it (anyone who tells you that the feeling afterwards is enough is bulls**ting you). And I like to feel like a Janet Jackson backup dancer, a cast member of Center Stage, or a vaguely orientalist Sun goddess. Basically I am defending my right to feeling like a femme while I sweat.

2) My desire to be skinny is pretty indefensible and I am working on it, OK?! As long as I turn off the volume on Tracy Anderson or the really annoying blogilates lady I can work on shifting the focus of these workouts from weight loss towards personal happiness.

3) Femme workouts are just as effective as butch workouts. Effective at what you ask? Effective at giving you functional strength and endurance (lifting, bending, moving for a while), preventing injuries from the terrifying parts of life (sitting for hours, falling, twisting your ankle in high heels). Joseph Pilates was pretty smart. And I totally understand that the people who like butch workouts are tired of defending their preferences against misogynist and strangely homophobic threats of “bulkiness;” but, there is also another kind of anti-femme rhetoric embedded in CrossFit people’s defensive statements about what beautiful functional bodies look like.

My real shame? I wish I could just do this all the time:

Some day. Sigh.

Dana is a graduate student and nanny living in Brooklyn.

Free Exercise -Cardio Edition

Free cardio is theoretically easy, it is called walking and running. And if you really want to take your free cardio to the next level, I highly suggest getting yourself a jump rope and taking it to the park. 15 minutes of jump roping is as good as a 30 minute run.
But, if you are like me, and you are tired of the endless routine of slopping on sunscreen, sweating it off, and having to reapply, then cardio inside is really essential.
Also, I tend to live in apartments where I can really annoy my neighbors when I jump around. So here are some almost silent, free, indoor-cardio workouts. Once again the patter of the instructors is pretty unbearable, so I highly suggest muting these wierdos and putting on your own music.

Dana is a graduate student and nanny in Brooklyn.

Habits

Daily habit that I will never, ever give up, no matter how unwholesome it is: Eating sweets and watching TV before I go to bed. Usually, like, right before I go to bed.

Daily habit that makes me feel smug: Fixing three mostly healthy meals for myself and my family.*

Daily habit about which I am proud, but feel embarrassed to discuss in terms of pride: Cleaning one room a day, tidying the rest of the house daily.**

Daily habit that fills me with self-loathing and is no fun at all any more: Facebookin’. More on this later.

Daily habit to which I aspire: Spending at least four hours on my dissertation and/or teaching. This might not happen for a while.

Daily habit of Dana’s of which I am jealous: Reading the news every day. And not just little sniplets on Twitter or the Daily Show.

*Is this something to feel smug about? I go back and forth on this. One side of me is like, get over yourself, adults do this all the time. Another part of me is like, this is real work, one of many domestic duties that is rarely acknowledged as real work outside the home. And then I’m like, a lot of my ability and desire to cook so much is a result of my privilege, so the smugness is completely uncool of me.

**This one is even knottier than the cooking thing, right? Because the ability to maintain a spotless house is, again, a great deal the result of privilege (this one mostly in terms of time). But, dammit, it’s a lot of work. I WANT MY GOLD STARS. Ugh, I’m such an a&#hole.

 

Christiane is a mother and graduate student living in Indiana.

Pablo Schreiber is the most important actor of our time

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Hyperbole? Maybe. But let me make my case. Pablo Schreiber, or the other Schreiber who is not Liev (but they are brothers), plays a crucial role in the life of ladies of habit. The symbiotic relationship is a sign of both our good taste and Pablo’s excellent intuitions about how to appeal to “us.” Let me be clear that what I am saying about ladies of habit is that we are not always keen on going out, and thus we value activities that can be done obsessively in solitude or side by side (I mean TV). We also devote ourselves to objects of affection with dedication and openness. What makes this different than our devotion to Devon Sawa at age 12 is that we not only love these objects of affection, we also expect them to surprise us.

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Had you forgotten his hair? I hadn’t.

Ryan Gosling is a good example. He delights ladies of habit not just because of his charm, but also because of his range. But Pablo Schreiber has developed himself to meet our needs in an exceptional manner. Here is why:

A (1. Pablo Schreiber has made his career almost entirely through premium TV. Beginning with The Wire and now Orange is the New Black, with a smaller stint on Weeds and parts on Broadway in between, the actor is synonymous with shows that epitomize the rise of TV to the top of our cultural landscape. The rise of TV to the top of all artistic production via premium television is also of course dependent on the rise of ladies of habit who put their serious and obsessive attention to consuming and appreciating/deconstructing these shows (I am not really defending this point, so just go with me). This is also true of Gandolfini, but Gandolfini also tried to be a movie star before and after the Sopranos. What about John Hamm, you say? Well, Mr. Schreiber unlike Hamm is more like a character actor of the premium television world, rather than a leading man. Which leads to . . .

B (2. Pablo Schreiber is recognizable but not a “type.” Pete Campbell will surely struggle to find roles where he is not a weasel and John Hamm will either have to go on a hiatus or make a Farrelly brothers movie to get away from Don Draper, but Schreiber can just keep sailing from show to show playing new and exciting roles because we don’t expect one type of role from him. He was tragic and white ethnic as hell in The Wire (in what I consider to be the highly underrated second season). He was sexy and also a white ethnic in Weeds (but Russian rather than Polish-American), all cut and stupid rather than soft and sad as he was in The Wire. In Orange is the New Black he is terrifying and sadistic. I am not actually sure he is that great in Orange is the New Black (he is a bit campy in his evilness), but the show is so unimpeachable that he is contributing to its greatness even if his performance is not outstanding. In any case, like Ryan Gosling, I trust Schreiber’s range, but like Hamm, I get to live with him in the periodicity of television.

C (3. He is hot, but not too hot. This is important because it means that he could be my boyfriend. Like, for real.

Dana is a graduate student and nanny in Brooklyn.

A Day’s Googles

I love Googling. It feeds the same impulse that motivated me to become a university reference librarian–I like bits of information and seeing how they connect with one another. When we Google we are usually being completely honest with ourselves. I don’t know who that is, how to make that, if this is possible, why something is happening.

Here is a day’s worth of my Google searches. It’s a bit on the short side since I’m currently working part time (ie: not in front of my computer as much). I thought about annotating it, but on second thought I just recommend you replicate the searches if so desired, keeping in mind that my Google knows I live in Washington, DC.

beach drive bicycles

g2 bus schedule

robert groves

reanimation library

rss feed embed blog

do you have to grind chia seeds to get the benefits

john ashberry

machine dreams

Jayne Anne Phillips

raymond carver gravy

jay mcinerney

Rielle Hunter (image search)

brett easton ellis young (image search)

urban outfitters either/or convertible sofa

walnut pesto

vegan pesto

anthony jeselnik (image search)

salad on pizza

sunrise

rehoboth beach

cute pugs

Anna is a librarian in Washington D.C.

Free Exercise

I refuse to pay for exercise because the internet now provides a bounty of workout videos for free. Don’t worry, it is not because I believe people got all the exercise they needed from manual labor before the advent of white collar labor and our post-industrial society robs us of this benefit. This is what all three of my first boyfriends believed and told me every time I went to the gym.

Working out with free videos on youtube also has the benefit of providing a much need mental game that tricks me into working out. Assembling the videos sucks me in, and then I am already sort of committed to working out. So here are some videos that I often use . . . but be warned, free youtube videos often come with pretty annoying fitness instructors gabbing at you with lo-fi audio equipment.

Dana is a graduate student and nanny in New York City

Pumpkin Porridge

I make this on Sunday evening and eat it all week for breakfast because the amount of time I would spend stirring my oatmeal and starring into the abyss was really cutting into my internet reading time.

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Pumpkin is also incredibly good for you, lots of fiber, vitamin A and C, and Potassium. You are basically eating a salad for breakfast. Also it kind of tastes like pumpkin pie.

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Recipe:

1 28 ounce can of pumpkin

28 ounces of milk (I use cow but I have also had success with almond, coconut and soymilk), just fill the can up with milk

1 Tbs. butter or coconut oil

1 Tbs. sugar (I use coconut sugar but I am pretty sure this is a for fake health food trend as sugar is pretty much sugar)

1/3 c. chia seeds

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. cinnamon

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Put all of the ingredients into a pot, simmer for 25 min. (with a lid on because pumpkin spits everywhere!), add 1 tsp. vanilla at the end (so that it doesn’t cook out) and then leave in your fridge when it has cooled. Garnish as you would oatmeal. I usually top mine with some peanut butter and some fruit if I have it.

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Dana is a graduate student and nanny in New York City

Tried and True

I am not certain about many things, except that my patented method for taking off mascara works, and it works every time.* On any given day, I’m usually about two swipes away from having Tammy Faye eyes, so trust me, I know about mascara removal. It’s cheap, quick and simple. I’m not sure if it works as well for eyeliner and/or eyeshadow, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t.

1) Splash a little lukewarm water on your eyes. Let the water work its magic on your lashes for a minute or so. Trust me, do not skip this step. Use your waiting time to floss or take a magazine quiz or try for the fiftieth time to pluck that one witchy chin hair that you always find yourself flicking with your thumb when you watch television.

2) Smear a fingertip-ful of coconut oil** over your eyelids and lashes.

3) Gently wipe coconut oil and makeup off with a cotton ball, tissue or cloth. Note the lack of lashes on the cotton ball/tissue/cloth.

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4) Proceed with your normal face washing routine.

*Except if you’re wearing waterproof mascara. And if you are, lord help you. That sh*t sticks.

**I used to use that eye makeup remover that comes in a little purpley bottle and costs $5. But then I switched to the considerably cheaper (and healthier? maybe?) coconut oil, and I’ve never wanted to turn back. Coconut oil works just as well, if not a bit better.

Christiane is a mother and a graduate student living in Indiana.

Burrata–no cook dinner

Good thing that mozzarella is filled with clotted cream. I won’t insult you with the recipe.

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Dana is a graduate student and nanny in New York City

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