Polar Vortex Survival

The SAD is upon me. My skin burns from the cold, my brain strains under the stress of grey days, and more importantly I am tired of staring at the dog fur on my floor. Release me from this winter prison!

Here are the only things making my polar vortex lifestyle bearable:

wigwam socks


My husband got me a pair of these from the army navy store, and wow, these are coats for your feet.


Because these sisters live in a warm climate and sing retro 80’s pop songs together. Maybe if you listen long enough they will manifest before you.

garnet hill down coat


I’m not proud of this, but to be fair every young woman with a brain in New York City is also walking around in a wearable sleeping bag. The rich ones are wearing the fur lined Canadian Goose version.

l.l. bean boots


This is not actually what I look like in mine, but it is what I imagine I look like in mine. I personally think that thinsulate bean boots are one of the most fashionable real winter boots. Just make sure to order a full size and a half down. Maybe I’ll get really bold this spring and wear them like the cute 20 year-olds who work in coffee shops: with bare legs and a sundress. It makes no sense, that’s why its so cool.




I think that this sweater is a smart solution to the shapeless quality of a giant sweater, but some empirical evidence suggests that it confuses and repels men. But that’s like a whole thing these days. I bought it on the strangely thrilling vaunte.com (where rich ladies unload their old stuff).




One of the many fascinations of contemporary blogging/vlogging culture is the extreme amount of money that it takes to share your personal style with the world whilst not being paid. The “haul” is a fantastically strange beast, in which young women share on youtube their shopping haul–unloading their overflowing bags from topshop, nordstroms, and sephora. In some ways the haul seems to be a product of the arrival of “fast fashion,” or extremely cheap stores like H&M that allow people to buy many products for very little money. But the really popular people on youtube are showing off very expensive purchases. One of my favorite youtube people seems to be a nanny, so how she spends hundreds of dollars every month on makeup and clothes is a bit of a mystery. I guess people also have credit cards, so maybe in haul videos we are just watching Americans spending more than they have in real time. And the really successful ones are just given stuff.

There is another answer that makes me a little uncomfortable. Some of these women just make a reasonable amount of money and choose to spend between $100 and $500 a month on frivolous things. This is hard for me to imagine, because I think even if I made $60,000 a year I would be slightly embarrassed to show the world my $700 Chloe shoes on youtube. And that’s without any of the caveats of debt, dependents, or lack of job security.

But at the same time, I think that we as a culture are very weird about women spending their own money. As women become more and more dominant in the workforce, it is obvious that luxury purchases will also be increasingly consumed by women. But I think there is still a way in which we assume that men can more rationally assess the difference between a want and a need and make their consumer choices accordingly. As the “chrissstinne” in the above video says, “I work 70 hour weeks” as she is justifies her very expensive shoe purchase. However, I think she tells us that because it seems a little wrong that a 25 year old should buy herself $700 shoes.

I guess my real question is whether there is actually something liberating about young women with large incomes (a category that I would love to be in), saying “I have a $500 a month budget for beauty.” Or is this merely the feminization of white collar work catching up with the feminization of consumption?

Athletic Lady Wear


Recently I attended an US Weekly sponsored Tracy Anderson workout: I basically died from the adrenaline of meeting my fitness guru. Miraculously I was revived when she cupped my ass with her hands and told me that I was a “star student.” She then furrowed her taut brow and warned me to focus more on my glutes (not my quads). The earth shattered and then embraced me in its deconstructed fragments as I looked into her big blue eyes surrounded by orange poreless skin. She was so small that I could tuck her into my hip like a child as we posed for photos. I felt so much guilt for all the times I have ever strayed from her narrow and difficult path and felt confident that if I return to her PROGRAM, everything will be okay, everything will be manageable. As the less dutiful attendees asked her silly questions about what to do if her workouts are too hard on your knees, she ignored them and refocused on me and Joanne from Connecticut when we proudly announced that we had been following her for three years. I joked that it was such a treat to be felt up by her in public. Tracy slyly replied that it was a treat to feel me up in public. Oh Tracy, such a sense of humor.

Okay, now that you know about my cult experience, on to the real issue.

Would I have had even more fun at this event if my sneakers were as colorful as my amazing Onzie tights? Yes. And the nice thing is you HAVE to replace your running shoes, so next time around I am totally going to get those Asics Gel-Kayanos in purple and pink. Because . . . it’s what Tracy would do.


But there is a darker side to athletic wear. One that I have become very attuned to since my time in Indiana and NYC. This is the dangerous world of replacing normal clothes with stylish and fun athletic wear. A concept that I am constantly toying with:


Now some people do this in a way that truly elevates sneakers to actual clothing.


The much much darker side of this is the full on athletic wear look:


As I stand behind women in full on black leggings and neon sneakers (NYC) or sorority girls in running shorts and tank tops with very large armholes (Indiana) in a Starbucks line, I am filled with awe at their superwomen inspired outfits. But the real reason that I cannot emulate these women is not their impressively skinny limbs, it’s that these women are not messy like I am. They have well-clipped cuticles, water-proof mascara, and most importantly, tanned and well moisturized skin that seems to blend into the stretchy and tight athletic wear. They wear their skin like lycra and their lycra like skin.

Only when I have mastered the putty colored manicure and bare yet glowing skin, all topped off with a smart blazer and some ankle grazing slacks should I be allowed to wear these as my footwear:



Friends as Sticks

Recently I have cultivated a new habit that seems to be helping me with my biggest flaw: my inability to stop reading articles about last night’s awards show dresses and start my work (writing) before 8:30am. Some people have jobs, bosses, and clients, so those lucky people might not understand–but when NOBODY cares if you do your work it is tough to do your work.

My friend John and I have a similar predicament (you might call John a “man of habit”), so we now call each other on the phone every Monday and Wednesday at 8:30am and tell each other to write for at least 30 minutes. We then hang up, put some timers on, and call each other back when the time is up. We then email each other whatever we did to make sure that 30 minutes was not spent rearranging the folders on our desktops. We also sometimes talk about that writing or comment on it for about 10 minutes. 

Making your friends call you and tell you to do something right that moment works like a charm! I’m pretty sure I could use this new accountability model to do anything: my laundry, finish Middlemarch, shave my legs. I realize this method is most typically applied to exercise, but I don’t need that because I positively associate exercise with NOT WORKING, so I enjoy it very much.

Why it works:

It is a very small amount of time. If we tried to do 2 hours we would always have conflicts and be able to talk ourselves out of it.

John is not my husband. By this I mean that he does not live with me and have to hear me complain about my lack of working all the time. Also, John doing this allows my husband to be my husband instead of my work supervisor.

But most importantly, I am kind of lonely and now I get to talk to John for at least 10 minutes twice a week. So I guess John is both carrot and stick.




Ladies of Habit Book Club

Fun Home


I am not a graphic novel person, or at least I thought I wasn’t. This story of a gay daughter’s memory of her closeted gay dad changed my mind. Also he probably killed himself. Also, I just saw the musical they made out of it and the show blew my mind. This story sounds like a bummer, but the fact that it can serve as the basis for credible showtunes is good evidence of its sense of humor. Utilizing her medium, Bechdel draws visual jokes that add subtle layers to the narrative.

Seating Arrangements

This book is the strongest argument for the misogyny of “chick lit” marketing. It is about a wedding and written by a woman, so naturally it should have a wedding image on the front. No! It’s a book that deliciously mocks and deconstructs the psyches of middle aged men who went to Harvard and all their attendant privilege. There are lots of women in the book (which is good because I can’t read books that only have boy protagonists), who go a bit crazy in the days before an epic WASP wedding. But these women are both participants in the reproduction of Harvard-worship and shrewd critics of the bizarro world that the most powerful people in American culture live in.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.


I think this is being marketed as the book version of the inner life of Adam from Girls (pre season 2 transformation). Or the story of the guy who treated you like crap while, ninja-like, using third wave feminism and his own “sensitivity” against you. Set in Brooklyn, in a very now now, the book is both fun and insightful. The most interesting moments were when I indentified with this jerk. For instance, he is constantly trying to figure out if girls are smart enough to appreciate how smart he is, but quick to reject them if their intelligence calls the superlative status of his own intelligence into question (this isn’t a “boy” problem, it is a pretentious person problem).


This started out great but got boring. The girl protagonist’s superpower is that she is super brave. So that’s cool. Unfortunately it suffers from a lack of solid plotting. Contrary to my usual YA advice, just wait for the movie.



I am obsessed with the ongoing Jennifer Weiner “quality” culture wars. This issue goes way beyond books right now (see the weird second-class seating arrangements for tv people at the Golden Globes on Sunday), but books have a particularly interesting role in the debate because reading has a strange aura of quality in and of itself. When you talk about reading a lot of books, people say “good for you.” They never say that about listening to a lot of radio, or watching epic amounts of tv.

I have a pretty strong position on this. I think that there is a bounty of highly sophisticated, subversive, and just plain good middlebrow media right now (see ABC Family’s entire set of programming, US Weekly’s copy, the genius of Buzzfeed, the strange performance art of youtube stars etc). I think critics should review more of it for two reasons:

1. These are dense texts overflowing with both subversive queerness AND the normative being formed right before our eyes. In other words, Weiner’s books are more complicated, weird and sensitive to issues of class, race, disability, and gender than most fancy people (who haven’t read them) think they are. And sometimes they are boring. We should talk about the difference.

2. Actual criticism, not just comical recaps, is a discipline that critics model for normal people so they can replicate it in their own lives and have A) more fun conversations about things outside themselves B) sharper brains (good for lots of things including democracy–yes I went there). More people have consumed middle brow culture than high brow culture, so the probability of actually understanding the criticism being modeled by critics would rise. For example, many many people have read Weiner and they deserve smart criticism of those books in order to become better cultural critics themselves. That’s why the New York Times should review her books.


Sometimes I feel sad, but then I remember that January tv premieres are about to happen

D.’s 2014 Resolutions

I wasn’t going to make any, but C. inspired me. I also like her very short list of resolutions idea. Why fail harder than you have to?

Mine are:

1. Wear winged eyeliner most days. Sure there are other looks, and they are fine, but chances are that if you are an okay looking person you will look 70% prettier with this look. Sometimes I see really pretty women wearing it and I’m like “woah, that’s over kill lady. You already have Disney eyes, leave some eyes for the rest of us.”


2. Walk for at least a half hour every day. This used to be a no-brainer for me when I lived in Indiana. It is one of the supreme ironies of moving to NYC that I now walk LESS. That’s the thing about a functioning public transportation system, it’s efficient. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter how many boutique fitness classes I attend or even how much I do my pilates at home, walking every single day is the single thing that really manages my weight, mood, and even appetite.


2014 Resolutions

I normally begin each year with a long list of resolutions that I never keep. It’s so much fun to make a list of things that will make me a better me, even if I know I’m very unlikely to change my habits. This year will be different, though.* Instead of a really long list, I’m going to concentrate on just two bigger projects. We’ll see what happens.**

1) Streamline my kitchen duties.

-When I cook even the simplest of meals, it seems to take FOREVER to clean up. Normally, this isn’t a bad thing, as it enables me to listen to my many beloved podcasts. However, I’d like to streamline the process a bit since my life will soon descend into the chaos that is caring for two babies and I won’t have the luxury*** of spending 45 minutes every night restoring my kitchen to gleaming perfection.

-I’d also like to learn to cook on the fly, without depending on recipes so much. I feel like this will help me rely less on fast food and will also help me make better meals from leftovers. If that doesn’t work, I’d like to memorize more recipes.

2) Create a new look for myself.

-I really need to get myself a less schizophrenic and less cheap-ass wardrobe. This might be a goal to put off for several months because I a) just had a baby and will not be at a consistent weight for a bit and b) am poor. However, I could probably start by editing my current closet down to pieces that I actually look good in and wear all the time. I could also window shop for a coherent look that is more age-appropriate than the style I currently have.****

-Be better at makeup and skincare. I’ve got the rosacea under control, and now it’s time to start in on the wrinkles.


*Probably not.

**Probably nothing.

***Did I mention I am an insane person who enjoys cleaning when it comes to the kitchen? Don’t I seem like someone you’d love to hang out with?

****Aged late-1990s hardcore fan with a penchant for quirky vintage pieces that never quite fit correctly and make me look slightly crazy.

Balancing the Apollonian and the Dionysian


As we enter the season of self-castigation and shame spirals, I have two goals: finish all these really fancy chocolate gift boxes and consume a lot of raw kale. In the hopes of raising my smoothie game to the amazing standards set by my chocolate producer, La Maison Du Chocolat, I have several principles that need to be reiterated:

1. the motor of your pulverizing device is huge and can actually heat up what it is blending, so having something frozen in there (whether it is ice or fruit) really helps keep it cool. And the frozen stuff helps the texture.

2. Start with greens like spinach and work your way up to kale. Spinach is mild and soft.

3. Limit the amount of fruit you put in and forget juice altogether or you are going to consume too much sugar.

4. Almond milk (unsweetened) is the perfect smoothie liquid because it has little taste or calories and yet is creamy. Coconut water is also good.


the orange creamsicle:

3 clementines (or one seedless orange), 1 c. almond milk, 1/2 c. water (really good with some vanilla protein powder)

the orange chocolate shake:
1/2 c. spinach, 3 clementines, half a banana, 1 tbs. almond butter, 2 tbs. cocoa powder, almond milk

the green smoothie:
1 cup kale (with stem removed), 1 apple (peeled, apple skin is bizarrely the toughest thing to pulverize), coconut water, an inch of peeled fresh ginger, half a squeezed lemon and ice

The color of sadness smoothie:
1 cup kale, 1/2 c. frozen blueberries, 1 Tbs. almond butter, 1 cup. almond milk

And remember, a bowl of popcorn with some truffle oil and grated pecorino is a legitimate meal, a smoothie is not! Smoothies are like the leggings of food, they are not the pants of food.

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