How to have a birthday

1. Tell the people in your life what you want them to do at least two weeks ahead of time. And don’t be coy. If you want your boyfriend to take you to dinner and get you five cupcakes in different flavors, then tell him that. Also specify the bakery. Ambiguity is the enemy of satisfaction.


These are the delightful Baked, NYC cupcakes

2. If you want a party, own it. Invite everyone yourself (don’t put this on your poor roommate). And once again, invite everyone two weeks ahead of time. No more “I thought I didn’t care, but now I want everyone to come out at the last minute tonight.”

3. Spend the majority of your day not working (if you can), and give yourself some “walking around money.” Treat yourself to really stupid and caloric things like US Weekly, nachos for breakfast, two movies in a row at the movie theater, and lip gloss at Sephora. It is less your birthday and more of an Id day.



Dance Cardio

Rich lady cardio abounds in NYC, and sometimes I like to treat myself to a bit of $30 per class excess. But if I am going to pay premium for unreasonably beautiful people to yell at me for an hour, I prefer the world of dance cardio to indoor cycling. This is simply a matter of taste. I enjoy faux back-up dancer wiggling. Now for a special treat I might take myself over to Body by Simone, where the water always has cucumber and lemon in it, and I might possibly run into Anne Hatheway or Sandra Bullock. I have actually never run into them, but I did work out with Matt Damon’s wife once.

Or I’ll hop over to DMF, where the dance routines are easier to follow and the women are less famous.

At a Body By Simone dance class you will essentially jump around Jane Fonda style with some hip hop break downs for an entire hour.

Simone is of course the sectarian apostate of Ms. Tracy Anderson, whose dance classes I cannot attend because she does not open her Tribeca studio to plebians. But I do sometimes jump around to her cardio at home when I am certain that my downstairs neighbors are not home.

But of course jumping around by yourself is not sustainable. It is too hard (I dare you to try 5 minutes of this workout), and you are missing out on the most fun part of pretending to be in a music video, namely the image of yourself in a floor length mirror moving in sync with ten other women.

Fortunately, there is an innovative and cheap version of this whole craze because we are in AMERICA. And because we are AMERICANS we can experience the joy of dance cardio mixed up in the joys of cultural appropriation. I give you Zumba! The exclamation point might actually be part of their trademark.

Now, this video accurately captures what is fundamentally great about Zumba: the majority of the people are not doing the dance very well but are still having fun, the moves are actually sexy, and you get to listen to an ungodly amount of Shakira. It does not, however, accurately represent the skills of your teacher who will be delightfully uncoordinated despite their enthusiasm. The best thing about Zumba is its pervasiveness. Zumba is EVERYWHERE. Check you YMCA or university gym schedule and I promise that you will find a happy group of overweight 50 year old women, some healthy grandmothers and grandfathers, and a few precocious 15 year old girls, getting down to the beats of Reggaeton.

Will you be dripping in sweat? Maybe not. This is pretty low impact. But you could do this for the rest of your life and you probably be a happier person. My Zumba class takes place on Saturday morning in a rec center, with about five 60 year old women plus me, and we are really starting to nail that “Sexy and I Know It” dance.


Dressing Like An Adult

Maybe you are in charge of Singapore’s sovereign wealth. Maybe you are paid enough to just arrive at the Theory flagship store or the floor of Barney’s where they keep all the Akris and say “dress me.” If this is the case, good for you, and if you are looking for an assistant I am a quick learner with lots of communication skills. But if this does not describe your situation, you might instead be an academic, a baby lawyer, or another profession where you are expected to look like an adult but are not paid enough to adequately outfit yourself. In academic world, conference season is right around the corner; and unlike “holiday party season” you actually might need a new outfit for these events. The golden rules of dressing like an adult (synthesized from my professional mentors, the Professor is In, and TV) are:

1. Your clothes must fit you, thus you must use a tailor. You are ten times more likely to have a perfect fit if you buy things that fit your most difficult spots and then bring the rest in.

2. You look more confident if your clothes show some connection to your actual everyday style.

3. You should look like Alicia Florrick, Olivia Pope, or Leslie Knope


Florrick: your going to need some blazers with hook and eye closures, or even better ZIPPERS!


Florrick tends to rock matching suits, but they all look great because they are super tailored.


Pope never met a double breasted blazer she didn’t like. And a flowy pant. But most importantly, Olivia Pope knows that wearing light colors (your dove grey, your cream) can look very strong.


And finally Ms. Knope. She kind of looks like a school teacher, but she also makes sure her frilly blouses and bold color choices are always anchored by conservative blazers. And these are not the boys-department husky blazers of Ms. Lemon.

So here is my solution for this fall’s professional events:


This “Aberdeen Jacket” looks kind of like something I would actually wear everyday, but fancy enough to pass as professional. I will be pairing it with my fancy black heel, my only fancy shirt, and a J.Crew pencil skirt (which will need to be tailored so that it sits higher on my waist and actually matches my hip to waist ratio).




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