Yogurt Haul!

Sorry about all the heavy breathing, but ask yourself “Do I know how to make a video and put it on Youtube?”

This is all from Court Street Grocers. In classic haul fashion I have to tell you that this shopping trip cost $40, thus exemplifying:

1. the craziness of Brooklyn food culture (did I really need the small batch local greek yogurt AND the sweet potato yogurt?).

2. my own compulsive shopping habits in food stores.

3. the danger of swinging by an artisan food shop after kickboxing class and shopping before I had consumed the sandwich I had come in for. Sadly, I ate it too quickly for a picture. But according to the menu here is what happened:

Mother-In-Law – $10.10
Braised Beef Short Rib, Mother-In-Law’s Kim Chi, Roast Broccoli, Mayo, on Garlic Bread



Talking to Humans at Weddings

It is wedding season and that means trying to talk to another person that you don’t know, who is from a totally different life situation, and who you will never meet again while you eat dry cake. First, I very recently subjected most of you to this experience. But at least my cake was MOIST!


So I am sorry, I really am. I am sure you did a fabulous job of finding something to say to my cousin/high school friend. But here are some thoughts on how I would like to improve my wedding conversation game:

1. I really really want to not ask what a person does for a living. I actually come from a part of the country where this is a polite question, but it is still a bad question. If someone is a stay at home mom, out of work, or a contract killer they shouldn’t have to tell people (unless they bring it up). Also, for MOST people this is a dead end question, though you can always get a little This American Life and really find the unexpected details. I actually like learning about the inane specifics of how people get through every minute of their jobs, but often they don’t enjoy telling me those details. And they feel like they have to reciprocate and . . . we’re done. Academia is the death of all conversations.

2. People LOVE to talk about their children and dogs. Especially if their kids are adults. As long as you keep it super specific, “so does he prefer My Little Pony or Ninjago?” this can be a very generative starting point. Asking what grade they are in is not a specific question. This last point is also true with actual children. If you ask them what grade they are in they have no where else to go in conversation. What are you going to ask next? Do they they like their teacher?

3. Asking how they know the bride and groom is a perfectly acceptable opener, but you are going to need a pivot pretty soon.

4. WHAT DO HUMANS TALK ABOUT? I think TV, but I might be overly optimistic.

5. If people don’t ask me questions I want to get better at not caring and just sitting there in silence. People who ask no questions should be punished.



TV of the future

Ladies of Habit have pointed out that TV is for the olds and Youtube is the Future. Find your niche quick before you are left behind in the dust. Might I suggest videos of other people playing video games? But some things about this new form remain the same, and I think that successful Youtubers have a lot in common with reality tv. The immediacy of following someone around their apartment or, even better, around their foreign city is not that different than Real Housewives. But there is a charming authenticity to the best Youtubers’ documentation of their lives that perhaps has to do with the fact that no producers or camera men are there with them. I submit to you this delightful couple.

I would watch them do the dishes, go to Ikea, or watch The West Wing, and because of Youtube . . . I do!

iCal Habits

I once said to a therapist, “do you think my iCal habit is a problem?” Predictably and annoyingly, she responded “Do you think it is a problem?”

Well, it might be slowly sucking my soul out, but my iCal habit sure works. After the brilliant post on bullet journaling from C. I have been itching to show you my iCal, waiting for the perfect week when I would be most proud of the contents. But that week will never come, so here it is (click on it for detail):

ical copy

As you can see, the genius of the iCal lifestyle is that you can color code tasks and appointments, thus putting work/leisure/house work tasks all on the same plane but distinct. Most importantly, it allows you to organize your day around how long those tasks should take and the amount of time between tasks. This last point, the time between, is really the scheduling conundrum that iCal wins over other scheduling techniques. When I finally recognized that walking to an appointment would take me a half hour or eating lunch would take me an hour and that needed to be scheduled into my day, everything changed. I stopped failing at my daily task list.

Some other notes on my scheduling habit: it is scary to realize that I have always written my calender as legible to other people. It is like there is an invisible audience that I am waiting to share this with. This is only scary because I feel particularly proud of a dense, well-colored schedule at the end of the week and I actually delete tasks if I didn’t do them in order to be honest with this invisible audience. Notice the blank space on Tuesday. That time was lost to the internet and “spring cleaning” (also known as avoidance and listening to podcast time). I deleted the tasks I was actually supposed to be doing because I didn’t deserve them.


So Liberated

I touched the third rail of my own feminism this week. At S Factor studio in New York City I took a pole dancing and other sexy dancing fitness class. For long time I have drawn a bright red line between the varied and embarressing fitness trends I am willing to try and the scary world of sex meets exercise. I do not belly dance and I do not pole dance because there is enough pressure on women to be sexy in every other sphere of their lives. Do they really have to look sexy while they sweat too?

My friend has become a little obsessed with S Factor and convinced me to come, promising that it would resonate with my ecstatic dancing origins. I basically decided to do this so I could tell you about it, so let’s say it is my first attempt at stunt journalism.

At the studio I encountered enthusiastic women of all ages and shapes walking around in cheap lingerie. They adjusted their garter belts and stripper heels before class. I was shocked. Costumes!? No one told me there would be costumes. I thought this was very promising.

But then class started and we entered a very dark room with lots of ominous lazy boys around the edges and poles in the middle. We did a solid hour of what I can only describe as sex Pilates. Basically you do all the normal moves but you touch your hips a bunch while you do it and writhe around with your butt really stuck out as you transition between moves. This also was kind of great. Why shouldn’t you feel pleasure in your own body while it is doing amazing things like butt lifts?

When we got to the main event–the pole–I was mildly warmed up and ready for action. And I want you all to know I did a GREAT job. The teacher and my seasoned friend said so. I wrapped my legs around that alcohol-sanitized pole and spun around. I totally get why this is a trend. It is actually not that physically difficult and it is incredibly fun to move horizontally in the air. The instructor charmingly yelled “Woo PHYSICS!” Agreed.

Unfortunately we ended the two hour class with a strip tease dance (sans stripping because it was only an intro class) and a little talk about the “mission” of the studio. Here’s the thing, they kept emphasizing that this is all about how you feel about yourself and moving only for your own pleasure, but the entire form of this kind of dancing just evokes this absent but looming audience who is probably male. Is it worse if the implied audience is a stranger (ala sex work) or your husband? Probably the latter. And its not just for you, because the teacher is watching you and apparently at higher levels you classmates watch you. There is also an advanced lap dance class, and my friend and I were super curious whether the other ladies would be weirded out if some non heteros participated in this pantomime of sexuality.

This video pretty accurately captures the experience–dimmed lights, really soothing pep talks and lots of thigh stroking.

The strangest part of the whole experience is the length everyone went to to clarify that this is not like those real strippers. “We are not sex workers” might as well be their motto. Which is icky, because if you are going to steal a whole form of expression from a group you should at least admit your admiration for their work. I kept thinking, this is like when frat boys slap each other in the locker room (popular culture tells me this is a thing). The fake sex work dancing is actually a way to police the boundary between good and bad women. Good women do this kind of dancing for themselves, and ironically they pay a ton of money to do it for themselves. Not like those other women who get paid to do it.

But to be fair, if I had a ton of money I might take the eight week introductory session. I really liked spending two hours doing a kind of movement that was supposed to work on how you think about your body, rather than trying to change your body. Also I liked all the 50 year old women (including the teacher) talking about reclaiming their erotic selves while modeling Frederick’s of Hollywood-type lingerie. They all seemed like very liberated next level ladies of habit.

On a final note, the fitness/self-actualization idiom of pole dancing is actually very distinct from the growing competitive pole dancing world, which is about as sexy as rythmic gymnastics. At least the fitness version doesn’t neuter the whole thing.


An Everlasting Read

One of my longest-running habits is reading at night before I go to bed. I usually have three or four books running at the same time. Aside from whatever newish book I’ve got going, I’ve usually got an L.M. Montgomery paperback on the nightstand:


Another of my favorite types of books to read at night are cookbooks. As much as I love picture-heavy, food-porny type cookbooks, the ones with lots of text are the best. For two years, my go-to food reading at night Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal:


I’m a fairly slow reader, but the book is actually taking a long time to finish because I like to save it for when I’m in a self-pitying funk and need some comforting cheer. Her recipes are incredibly simple, and refreshingly free of trendy ingredients and culinary buzzwords. Here’s the beginning of one of her recipes:

“The pot was invented 10,000 years ago, and a simmering one has been a symbol of a well-tended hearth every since. I don’t mean to suggest that now that you have been reminded of the age and goodness of a pot of water, you start boiling everything in your kitchen, but that instead of trying to figure out what to do about dinner, you put a big pot of water on the stove, light the burner under it, and then, as soon as it’s on its way to getting hot, start looking for things to put in it. Once you do, you will have dropped yourself, in a single gesture, directly into the middle of cooking a meal, jostled by your faith and will a few steps closer to dinner…”

Boil some water, then put stuff in it. Great, right? I also like the book because she advocates bread as a part of a healthful meal. But I appreciate the book best of all because she’s bringing back a great vocabulary word to apply to food: “wholesome.” Anything that isn’t overly processed, and has a few simple ingredients can be classified as wholesome, which allows me to reframe my sometimes weird eating choices completely. “What a wholesome snack,” I say to myself as I shove the fourth shortbread cookie of the day into my mouth. Carrots, a hardboiled egg and some bread and butter are suddenly a wholesome midday meal, and not just the scraps I’ve scavenged in a bout of breastfeeding-induced ravenous hunger. Thanks, Tamar.


Excerpt originally posted here.

Pornography for Self-Improvement

It is almost summer and that means doubling down on our prettyness regimens. Fortunately it is now socially acceptable to watch porn as part of our “inspiration” routines. #Fitspo is the pernicious and wonderful trend of very fit people posting images of themselves on social media in order to inspire us fatties to workout more. I am generally anti this trend when it involves posting quotes on Pinterest or Instagram with such noxious quotes as:


On the other hand, I am very pro this trend when it means that I am constantly being inundated with images and videos of naked bodies flexing.




Shoe Money Tonight

For the monstrously proportioned, the world of footwear has thankfully become a much kinder place with the advent of online shopping. Finding a size 14 no longer poses much of a challenge. May heaven smile upon my poor mother, who had to DRIVE my equally gangly brother and me to shoe stores in the hopes of finding SOMETHING above a size 12.

It’s gotten to the point where I can even make some sartorial choices. The challenge now rests in finding items that hit the middle of the Venn diagram composed of “graduate student instructor,” “semi-cool young-but-not-too-young guy,” and “not insanely pricey. “

My current fallback is Puma sneakers in notable but (hopefully) not garish colors. Comfy as hell (important for walking about campus), they look pretty good with jeans. Plus—as Nathan Lane rightly reminds us in The Bird Cage—one does want a hint of color.


What’s that? The two green ones look similar? That’s because I wore the lighter ones down to the nub, and bought a second pair on eBay, god help me, because Puma no longer makes the RS1. Sadly its replacement, the RS100, looks like something Daft Punk threw up.


About a year ago W helped me pick out a pair of Florsheim oxfords. They’re suede and therefore less practical in snowy/rainy seasons, but a student last summer requested that I wear “the blue shoes” for the last day of class and I nearly swooned. Dress em up, dress em down, but per Elvis don’t step on em.


More recently D revealed the Thom Browne look, matching seemingly shrunken suits with brogues and ankle boots. Oh and apparently if you’re going brogue, the sock is not to be showing.


Given that all pants want to go highwater on me anyway, maybe this is the next step.


-J. a very tall man of habit.




If you have access to small children, make sure they write thank you notes, because a) Adults love thank you notes and will buy your children even more gifts b) A small but vital archive of their handwriting will be established and c) It will make you as an adult realize that thank you notes are amazing and should be sent all the time.


For the Adult version you have to bite the bullet and invest in some good cards. These are expensive. Get over it. Buy them anyway, and in bulk.



I like a nice blank, not overly decorated card. This is much more useful than cards with images on them, because you don’t want to send condolences for death or a thank you to your boss on a Klimt sexy-kiss card.

I like these Crane & Co. ones very much.

Note: my mother totally gets away with image-based cards (which she buys in museums) because she is a visually-oriented thoughtful person. For instance, she really has a way with a good Wayne Thiebaud card, or a more dicey feminist artist card. But I don’t know if mere mortals can get away with this strategy.

Wayne-Thiebaud-Cakes-1963-oil-on-canvas Blue Flower, 1918

But my husband, who comes from good breeding and knew about thank you notes while I was still finger painting with my pudding, likes a good post-card in place of a thank you note. He buys very weird but strangely neutral cards whenever we visit historic homes or pretty towns.

This historic house post-card has been a real winner for all-occasions notes:


I don’t even know where I stand on monogrammed stationary. It seems like a nice gift (both to give and receive), but it also seems like you are pretending you are Queen of England.



Happy Mother’s, or Roommate for Life, Day!

If you do it right.

Blog at WordPress.com.