Origins of a Lady of Habit: Music

Much as Taylor Swift is reconstructing her genealogy in 1989, her excellent new album, I have recently come to terms with some of my musical foundations. This is not only inspired by Swift, but also in reaction to a 45 year old man giving me an “education” in late 70’s and early eighties music. He felt that Robert Palmer was essential to this “education.” Well, at least I can now say confidently that Robert Palmer sucks.

But what will I foist on younger generations for no other reason than they meant a lot to me when I was 13?

1. Julie Brown

This album came out in 1984, which means that either my brothers or my parents were responsible for buying the record that I found in our living room.

I had a deeply sensual relationship to the album cover but I had never seen the video until this week. I guess I’m glad, because I think I would have been super obsessed with the video as well and then I would have felt even worse about Columbine.

2. The Cranberries
The first successful album “Everyone Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” came out in 1993, so this is firmly in the I stole this from my best-friend’s sister’s tape collection category.

3. Garbage
The self titled album came out in 1995, which means I was 11. So this was basically the theme song of fifth grade for me. I’m not sure what I related to in these lyrics, but I was definitely into the way it made me feel like a teenager. I feel really confident that this band will stand the test of time. As will all of Shirley Manson’s fashion choices.

4. Alanis Morissette
Truth: this was the first CD I ever bought. I wish I still had it. Also, now she is a Tracy Anderson devote’. Coincidence? I think not.

5. No Doubt
My first actual concert was Hootie and the Blowfish, but I prefer to remember history differently. So No Doubt was my first concert. And it was GREAT. I also choose not to think of contemporary Gwen Stefani as related to No Doubt.

6. Movie soundtracks were really big for me. They were kind of like Pandora and Soundcloud for kids in the nineties. Unless you were some kind of eleven-year old maverick, you didn’t know that these cool bands were on the college radio station. The essentials were the soundtracks to Bed of Roses, Empire Records, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Stealing Beauty.


Between the ages of 13 and 19 (with a brief break during 16) I really nailed slutty. I am so proud of what I accomplished back then and I wish there were a million photos to prove it. Oh to grow up in the age of Instagram. I wore really tight Levis, a white little boy’s tank top from Hanes, a black bra, Chucks, and a ton of black eyeliner. This is objectively a great outfit. I can’t remember what I wore in the winter, but I bet it was super not-warm.

I don’t even know what a slutty 30 year old looks like, but I think this is something I would investigate. Dressing appropriately for work, hiding one’s body, and trying to make my facial features not disappear into my skin takes so much effort that I I rarely think “how could I really push the edges of good taste.” But I want to!


From Nasty Gal

I am so lost that I visited Nasty Gal to get a better sense of how slutty clothes look right now. Good news: Rihanna seems to be the primary influence on new slut fashion. If this is all third wave feminism has given us, I think I’m on board.

But how to take these lessons and apply them to one’s life. I bought a Rimmel matte red lipstick for $5 and wore it with no other makeup than mascara. It helped a little. But it also felt like a cop-out. I think that really embracing sluttyness is going to take a more Lena Dunham like spirit, in which you stop caring about “flattering” your imperfect body. I particularly like all the weird stuff that she has been wearing on her book tour.

I think that there is a dangerous undercurrent to the idea of a uniform (a trap I fall into all the time). Or to learning how to dress like a “grown ass lady” (a concept that I have promoted). I want out. I want to make people mildly uncomfortable with my self presentation. The sad thing is I don’t even remember how to do this anymore.


Treat Yo Self

My excitement over my birthday is unseemly. I really look forward to it, or more specifically the presents. As an adult this is wrong, I know, but so what. I love stuff. I love when other people give me stuff. I love making epic lists of stuff and then buying it for myself on this one day of the year. I love to invite nobody to this occasion, take myself to a fancy spinning class and then eat a whole cake. Or three different kinds of cake and two different kinds of pie and then go to the movies and then go to a massage. I’m a birthday monster and other humans just get in the way.

So this year is my 30th birthday and I am planning on going all out. Here is all the stuff I will buy for myself:



The Everlane loafers, the Lorac ProPalette, Four and Twenty Black Birds pie for breakfast, AND . . .
the entire Nashville soundtrack!


They’re Back!

I just want to watch children watching TV

We Got Us a Gilmores Virgin

The Gilmores have dropped on Netflix. Those of us who already know and love Lorelai, Rory, Emily, Sookie, Lane and the rest of the gang have probably already blocked off a few weeks on their calendars to binge watch all seven seasons. For those of you who are new to the show, who maybe disdained it in high school or college but are ready to give it a second chance, I’d like to make a couple of suggestions.

Don’t start with season one. Look, I’m not saying skip it altogether. But like all network shows, the first set of episodes isn’t exactly the Platonic ideal of Gilmorianness. It’s very much a WB teen drama in the first year. It’s great, but you’ve got a fair bit of surly teen attitude from Rory, which the writers thankfully do away with season two. The town characters aren’t allowed to be as character-y yet. Sean Gunn isn’t Kirk until episode 5. Kelly Bishop’s makeup and hair are weird.


The One Tree Hill guy hasn’t jumped ship yet. Lane inexplicably becomes a cheerleader. Lorelai and Rory uncharacteristically are into the same Macy Gray song. As a whole, season one is still 10 times better than any other show that aired in 2000, but it’s best not to have this be your first impression.

Season three is where you need to begin (as D has pointed out before, this is true of most shows). The most important aspect of the show, Rory and Lorelai’s banter, is LOCKED IN. There are problems to be sure, beginning with [spoiler alert] the most boooooooring backdoor pilot ever where Jess goes to California to meet his dad and Twins Peak stepmom. For the most part, though, the show has really found its groove. Lauren Graham KILLS every scene she is in:

In one of my favorite episodes, Lorelai and Rory manage to make the old “multiple Thanksgivings” sitcom storyline charming:

You may then proceed chronologically to season four, where you will meet Lorelai’s true soulmate, Chris Eigemann as Jason “Digger” Stiles. This season also finds Rory man-less, which actually really works.

From there, you may go back to seasons one and two. Marvel at Rory’s baby face and Lorelai’s late-90s dark berry lipsticks and mini-skirt suit sets. Understand how lucky the creators were to have cast Melissa McCarthy as Sookie instead of Alex Borstein (who makes a cameo as Drella the harpist). Cycling back this way also allows you to get a second viewing of seasons three and four. And yes, watching these seasons again is necessary, because there will be about five hundred jokes you missed the first time around. Also, Rory’s graduation speech is way more poignant after watching her grow up.

Watching the show this way also gives you a nice, long buffer before the heartbreak that awaits you in seasons six and seven.




I know we shouldn’t buy products because we like the song in an advertisement, or should we?

It’s my favorite new Cat Power song! I do think a woman looks sexy in a man’s shoe! These would go with everything! Jewelry designers wear them! Why is that woman putting her shoes on her white couch?

Let’s all buy this shoe!

Also, this reminds me of this amazing thing that happened:

Watching Transparent when you have a Trans Parent

My family has been waiting for the debut of Transparent, the Jill Soloway show (of Six Feet Under), with giddy anticipation because it is a show about us. My dad came out as a woman very late in life, and watching Jeffrey Tambor play a trans woman in her early 70s feels like watching my dad on TV. The way she touches her hair all the time, the way she code shifts back into a masculine voice when she feels threatened, and the very specific aesthetic of a baby boomer who did not get to wear flowing skirts and bohemian jewelry in the 1970s but is making up for lost time by going full white witch.
TRANSPARENT_102_02858 (1)A.JPG
I assume other people watch this show and think “Everyone has secrets. Does anyone really know their parents? Are my parents’ secrets the source of all my problems?” And, indeed, this show is so good that anyone could be moved and troubled by its themes. But this is a show is about MY FAMILY. This is so eery that it has caused me to wonder if there is a whole subculture of upper-middle-class liberal families with dads who are coming out as women in their 60s. It kind of makes me want to join a support group where we would all talk about the weird way we over-share trans dad info at dinner parties. “My dad is a architect, but she is retired.” Wait for the reaction. “Did you say she?” Boom, you are a dinner party success!

There is a strange thrill in finding out that your family is more interesting than you thought. And oh how this information would have helped me when I was deep in the trenches of queer studies courses in college! A whole undergraduate thesis could have been devoted to the topic. Lena Dunham must be furious that her dad did not come out as a woman. Think of the personal essays it could fuel!

But what is so delightful about watching Transparent is that the show captures both the “fun” of this specific predicament and the sadness. The way you let go of the sentimentally charged “dad” in exchange for a word (Moppa, Maddie, their first name) that is more respectful of their self-presentation but also weirdly unemotional. The realization that your anger and resentment are not magically erased or even really altered by this new information. Maybe you felt like your dad never really understood you. Well you didn’t understand them either. Unfortunately, this leaves you in exactly the same place you were before: no understanding.

My transparent is irrationally hopeful about social progress, and I think that she would say that this show captures a hyper-specific experience that will be unrecognizable in twenty years. No one will grow up with a dad who comes out at age 60 because people will not live with such rigid gender binaries. No dad will have to go to trans-phobic cross-dressing camp. No offspring will try and rewire their pronouns after thirty years of standard usage. But the show has also made me confront what is not special at all about our family, and what will probably still be true in twenty years: parents will still keep secrets, they will still try to buy you off to assuage their guilt, and children will still be fundamentally incapable of empathizing with their parents’ humanity.

Universal or not, I am riding high on the specificity of Transparent as a show. May you be so lucky to someday turn on a TV show and have it be about YOUR life. Is there some lucky person who feels this way about the Gilmore Girls? But more importantly, the show’s specificity is what makes it funny, tragic and compelling.



Minimal Shopping Fashion Solution

I am feeling a little over buying clothes right now, because

A1. We just threw out half our wardrobe in order to fit our clothes into our new apartment’s non-existent closets

B2. At 30, I finally realized there is nothing new under the sun for fall fashion. It’s all prep-school blazers, Scottish-highland-wool-fantasy, “men’s wear inspired,” and layers layers layers. With the occasional downtown-chic all black leather jacket twist. I love all these redundant ideas, but I am no longer under the illusion that I need more than one giant sweater and a solid collection of jeans and t-shirts. A fall T-shirt edit will be forthcoming, so don’t worry.

B3. The only thing I actually NEED, rather than want for the purposes of filling the giant chasm that is my consumerist soul, is work related pieces. Last year I finally bought a great blazer and some snazzy royal blue wool pants, but at conferences I literally had two wardrobe options and I probably should invest in a bit more work appropriate clothes. But that should not be confused with fall everyday wear.

So, what to do? I figured it out!

Square vintage scarves!



If you have a great vintage store near you there is no doubt a box of these gems sitting in a corner for under $10, but I also love shopping for them on Etsy. If you want actual silk, you can still get beautiful ones for under $30, and if you are a lady with an actual full time job why not invest in a classic vintage Hermes silk scarf?

A square silk scarf tied around your neck (follow basic golden retriever scarf tying technique),



with a simple t-shirt/sweater and jeans looks super cool. I also love this kind of scarf tucked into a button down or tied in a knot over a sweater to make you look like a real business lady. It is like a tie for women.





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