“Nobody else working in movies today can make her own misery such a source of delight or make the spectacle of utter embarrassment look like a higher form of dignity.”—The New York Times' A.O. Scott on Diane Keaton's performance in “Something's Gotta Give”
These are my latest addiction. Can’t seem to have enough in black and nude. Sleek, minimal, classic, edgy, sexy, comfortable… Yes, all of those words just to describe a pair of undies! And for 3 for $30? You can build a whole collection of them!
It was the summer of 2000. I was obsessed with Sex and the City and would listen to this album over and over again.
As a farewell present for my move to New York that August, my sister and cousins made a little poster with the above image of the show’s characters, except with their own faces on top of their corresponding character. My cousin Vicky was sweet Charlotte, my cousin Jen was the older and wiser Samantha, my sister Jeanie was pragmatic Miranda, and I was Carrie—the little fashionista-writer-dreamer. It was one of the most touching gifts I have ever received.
For whatever reason, I started looking up the songs from that album tonight. Those songs… They’re not the greatest… But they’re bringing me back… To a time that I can only experience on a wave of nostalgia.
"Here’s the thing about dessert — you want it to last. You want to savor it. Dessert is so delicious. It’s so sweet. It’s so bad for you so much of the time. And as with all bad things, you want it to last as long as possible. But you can’t make it last if they give you a great big spoon to eat it with. You’ll gobble up your dessert in two big gulps. Then it will be gone. And the meal will be over.
Why don’t they get this? It’s so obvious. It’s so obvious.”
“LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23). Highlighted today is a certain longing in your heart that makes you unique. It’s a nameless craving for nothing in particular and everything at once. It’s impossible to describe, and few possess it.”—Holiday Mathis
"When I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I would buy Vogue instead of dinner. I just felt it fed me more." —Carrie Bradshaw
I recently joined a new company and our team went to lunch yesterday at Soho House to get to know one another better. We all took turns making introductions, and, instead of firing out key bullet points, we started sharing mini personal stories of a defining moment that made us move to New York. For one girl, it was going into business with her father. For another, it was reading through the encyclopedia as a child. I was the last person to go.
I wasn’t sure what to say exactly, but then it dawned on me: “An issue of Vogue was accidentally mailed to my house back in 1995.”
I still remember that moment, clear as day. It was a beautiful summer day in Texas and my dad had freshly mown our lawn. The smell of freshly cut grass still gets to me today. I was sitting at the picnic table in our front yard, under the shade of the tree that my parents had planted when I was born. I was fourteen years old.
Dad walked down the driveway to check the mail and shuffled through the stack as he made his way back up. He stood in front of the picnic table and tossed a magazine to me, “Here, this one’s for you.”
"Dad!" I said, excitedly, looking down at the glossy cover, "Did we order this?!"
"I think it was sent here by mistake," he said, before disappearing into the house.
My knowledge of magazines before that was a smattering of Highlights for Kids, National Geographic, and Time. This, however, was fabulous. VOGUE, in all caps. A French word! It was the most sophisticated thing that I had encountered in my life thus far.
Kate Moss was wearing a minimalist pink satin shift dress by Calvin Klein with a pair of black pumps. It was her first Vogue cover. The saturated hue and luxuriousness of the Duchesse satin of the dress were foreign to me. I studied everything. The cut was so minimal, yet looked so… Expensive. I hadn’t seen anything close at the mall.
I recall coming to a page with bold-faced names, like Donna Karan and Isaac Mizrahi. I had no clue about how to pronounce their names, but the one thing that stood out was where they went to school: Parsons School of Design. I dog-eared this page and later boldly underlined this part. I must find out more. That’s where I need to be.
The issue featured Mod influences in fashion at the time. Kirsty Hume and Nikki Taylor were shot in an editorial together, wearing skinny black turtlenecks, string bikini bottoms, and kerchiefs on their head. Their eyes were defined with bold strokes of black kohl eyeliner and their lips were perfectly nude. I rushed into my mother’s vanity and experimented by dabbing her concealer on my lips. I gasped. It looked so modern. That magazine was my treasure. It unlocked a world that I could never even have imagined.
I daydreamed about going to Parsons until I was a junior in high school. When I met with my guidance counselor and told her that it was the only school I wanted to apply to, she scoffed at me. “That’s not very realistic,” she said, “I would recommend that you attend the community college here for two years and then transfer to the University of Texas, which has a fashion program. Or you could also look into applying to the Art Institute of Houston.” Was it that absurd of me to want to go to Parsons? It infuriated me and only made me more determined.
My cousin and her then-husband took me to New York for a weekend that spring so that we could visit the school. It was my first time on a plane. We shared a tiny room at the Holiday Inn in Times Square. The next day, we toured Parsons and sat through orientation, where they spoke about the rigorous program, the expectations, and how being smack-dab in New York City offers a dynamic energy not found in traditional university campuses. I didn’t want to go back home!
I applied and wrote an essay about Ralph Lauren’s advertising campaign for their new fragrance Romance. When my acceptance letter arrived in the mail, I stared at it everyday. I didn’t know how I would get there or how I would pay for it, but I was in. My family scrounged up money for airfare and my mother gave me a check for $1,500. I got on that plane not knowing with no idea what my life would become once I got off.
The cab stopped in front of the dormitory building on East 12th Street, near Third Avenue. Everyone else was surrounded by their parents and family. It was bustling with swarms of people. I stepped out of the cab with an overstuffed duffel bag and a huge, heavy cardboard box. Deep breath. Here I go.
That feeling where you have a belief stirring around so strongly in your mind that you can’t sleep until you create something tangible from it, so you open your laptop and a rush of thoughts and ideas push through your fingertips and onto the screen—candid, but magically articulate, concise, and organized. Then, you click send. It travels through the World Wide Web into your boss’ inbox. When you wake up, you think: “What the fuck did I just do.”
Watched Willie Nelson perform this song (a cover of Pearl Jam) on a recent episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Makes me think of Dad.
After being employed for about six months, there came a day when I had to make the dreaded call: “Daddy? Can I borrow $500? I’ll pay you back, I promise!” To which he promptly responded, “Do you know how much you owe me by now?” Yikes. Nevertheless, he went to the bank minutes after we hung up and deposited the funds for me.
A couple of months later, I started a new job and was just starting to catch up on my finances. Dad and I caught up on the phone and he told me that he worried about me at times. I thought he was hinting at the loan.
"I know, I know, Dad… The $500. I didn’t forget. I feel really bad. I’ll pay you back soon," I said guiltily.
"You shouldn’t feel bad," he told me, "You should feel happy. You should feel happy that you have a dad who would do that for you. It’s not about paying me back."
Years ago, after a particularly heated fight with an ex that left me in tears, I called my friend Edward who lived nearby, sobbing for solace. He invited me over for tea. I remember exactly what I wore: a vintage Afghan dress with mirrored paillettes hand-embroidered on the bodice, black tights, and my tall black velvet Chanel boots. I made the walk down Park Avenue that winter’s evening, a big fox fur hat on my head, clutching the front of an oversized gray wool coat closed with a gloved hand. My nose was pink and my eyes were puffy.
Crashing into his sofa, still upset, I gave him a run-down of the argument and expressed my bewilderment and confusion as he poured hot water into a pair of mixed matched teacups. He pulled out a small, clear plastic dessert box from his mini fridge. “I bought pumpkin cheesecake because girls like sweets,” he said with a shrug. He cut the wedge in half and gave me mine on a zebra-painted plate.
We spent hours talking and he somehow convinced me to venture downtown to Beatrice Inn, the louche subterranean West Village hot spot which has since been closed down by authorities. We hurried down the steps. It was dark and crowded, and the ceilings were low, which made me feel like I was an oversized Alice in a very underground Wonderland.
After having our drinks in hand, Edward led me up to the black and white checkered dance floor where we danced away, brushing shoulders with everyone around us. Then, there was a change in tune. I recognized the opening notes and the beat. It was Roxy Music’s “More Than This.”
"We have to dance to this song," he said, turning his baseball cap backwards and holding out his hand. "Will you dance with me?"
How could I say no? So, I did. But I made a joke of it because we were the only ones slow-dancing in the entire place.
Then, we shared a cab back uptown and I went back to my apartment.
When Christmas rolled around weeks later, Edward asked me to meet him in Union Square for lunch. He had a gift for me. It was wrapped in brown paper with a hunter green ribbon. With it, he gave me a tiny white envelope sealed with a messy little blob of red wax. “Don’t open it now,” he insisted, “It’s embarrassing.” I stuck it in my bag and we went to lunch as usual.
When I got back home, I opened the gift and it was The Best of Roxy Music CD. The second track was “More Than This.” I read the card:
This is the only present I bought this year that has any meaning.
Estella: groomed to be the unattainable muse; conditioned to believe that loving would only lead to heartbreak. She could receive love, but was unable to give it in return.
In the film Great Expectations, after his first solo showing at a gallery, a drunken Finn determinedly marches to Estella’s uptown mansion, unabashedly rings the doorbell, and screams up to her window:
"I DID IT!!! I DID IT! I AM A WILD SUCCESS! I SOLD THEM ALL! ALL MY PAINTINGS! You don’t have to be embarrassed by me anymore… I’M RICH! Isn’t that what you wanted—huh?! Isn’t it great??? ARE WE HAPPY NOW??? Don’t you understand… That everything I do, I do it for you. ANYTHING that might be special… In me… Is you."
Here’s this guy would do anything for this girl yet she’s completely indifferent. For all he knew, he wasn’t good enough. Nothing he did was good enough. You see in her eyes that he’s the hero in her life, but she’s limited in her expression. Allowing him to love her was as far as she could go.
Last fall, a stylish woman with a chic blonde bob walked into Cafe Cluny wearing a black wool cocoon coat, chunky black sweater, cropped skinny black trousers, and nude patent loafers. Her shoes were understated yet made such a statement that I had to ask her who the designer was. She told me that they were designed by a duo under the label Dieppa Restrepo and scribbled down their name onto a scrap piece of paper for me.
When I looked through their unisex shoe collection, I instantly became obsessed with their camel penny loafers. They were just the sort of everyday shoe I was seeking: practical yet polished, and something that went with just about everything.
My ideal fall outfit would be to pair these shoes with a crisp white shirtdress, cinched at the waist with my vintage gold coat of arms Christian Dior belt from the 1950’s, and an oversized black and white herringbone cashmere wrap.
When I moved back to New York last September, I had brought nothing from my handbag collection but a conservative black Chanel handbag and a black Chanel quilted leather clutch with me. I figured that it would cover the bases between job interviewing and going out. The only problem was that I didn’t have a handbag that could go everywhere with me.
My everyday life consists of working at an artist’s studio in Brooklyn, hitting the gym or working out, and occasionally going out at casual places downtown. In any of those scenarios, a conservative Chanel handbag would feel completely out of place.
Handbag prices have been so outrageous that, for the past year, I lugged my camouflage L.L. Bean Hunter’s Tote wherever I went. I just couldn’t bear the thought of paying a thousand dollars for a decent handbag. At the same time, I knew that I’d eventually have to invest in something that was stylish, cool, and suited my lifestyle.
Luckily, at the recent Alexander Wang sample sale, I spotted the Emile tote and fell in love. The only color that was left by the tail-end of the sale was eggshell. I guess most people saw a white bag as impractical or limited to the spring and summer seasons. To me, it was as versatile as a black handbag. I could see myself wearing it with anything. Not only is this bag roomy enough to fit my gym clothes and sneakers, the cross-body strap allows me to sling it over my shoulders while I ride my bike! The best part, though, is that it was under $500 with tax included.
I received a bottle of Donna Karan’s Gold eau de parfum from an event’s goody bag years ago. It sat untouched in my vanity for months until I ran out of whatever perfumes I had at the time. On the first day that I wore this perfume, I received compliments from cab drivers to random strangers in the grocery store. I had hit on something and I wore it for a couple of years.
This past year, I thought that perhaps I should switch things up so I went on a search for a new fragrance. I’ve smelled and tested dozens of perfumes and still couldn’t find something I could identify with. I told my boyfriend about my quest and he said, “But why? I associate you with that scent.” I wore it to a birthday dinner the other night and when I hugged a friend, he said: “Wow. You smell nice.”
The search is officially off—I think I’ll stick with this one.
For some reason, I hadn’t been taking care of my skin as I should have. My medicine cabinet used to be stocked with an array of serums, night creams, day creams, moisturizers, firming creams, cleansers, exfoliators, toners, and masks. When I started living by myself this year, I wanted to streamline and minimize the amount of products that I was using. I returned to a simple regiment consisting only of a gel cleanser, exfoliating scrub, and basic moisturizer.
Having combination skin, I became wary of creams for fear that it would clog my pores or make my skin oily. I stayed away from anything that came in a jar. What I didn’t realize was that my skin had changed now that I’m nearing 30 years old. It was less hydrated than I thought. I started looking into anti-aging creams but everything that I came across was either out of my price range or too complicated for me to wrap my head around. That is, until I saw a jar of Kiehl’s Abyssine Cream in the display at Equinox.
This anti-aging defense cream was only $45 and contains abyssine, which is a molecule found in the ocean that soothes and protects the skin. The texture is thick but goes on lightly. It absorbs into the skin well without a greasy residual slick. My skin is left hydrated and happy. I highly recommend it.
I’ve been alternating between Diorshow mascara and YSL’s Volume Effet Faux Cils mascara for the past couple of years. When my last tube went dry last week, I tweeted for mascara recommendations. I was sick of paying $30 for mascara. @hithapalepu from HithaOntheGo.com told me about L’Oreal’s Million Lashes mascara. I just picked up a tube from Duane Reade yesterday for $8.99 and knew that it would be a mainstay in my makeup bag.
Something major happened yesterday: I received a paycheck from one of the publications that I contribute to and it was enough to cover one month’s worth of rent. This is a big deal for me because, when I first started freelance writing three years ago, I was paid in peanuts. (To give you a frame of reference, my rate for 250 words back then could probably get me a nice lunch while my rate today could cover a night’s stay at a bed & breakfast inn.)
This paycheck somehow symbolizes that the writing that I do on the side is actually legit. I’m movin’ on up and it feels good. I feel like I should have this framed to show my future children: “Mommy finally thought of herself as a real writer the year she was turning 30 because of this paycheck!”
One of my favorite quotes on writing is one by Richard Bach, who said: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” I couldn’t agree more and I have blogging to thank for flexing my writing muscles. The above image of Carrie Bradshaw is how I look when I write: belly-down on the bed, with my laptop open, and always facing the foot of the bed.
"I know it doesn’t look like it, but I’m in the midst of a major metamorphosis," I said to my boyfriend this past weekend. "I’m in the process of becoming my ideal self. And I think it’s time that I started working on my style. Style communicates so much about a person and right now my quote-unquote style says nothing about me."
He opened up my iPad and said, “OK, tell me what your goals are and I’ll take notes for you.”
I spoke freely about how I wanted to look polished but effortless, and illustrated this by pulling out a grey Balenciaga sleeveless top that was cut from a high-tech grey foam jersey material. I flipped through my closet and paired it with a black wool asymmetrical Balenciaga miniskirt with intricate origami pleating.
"See this?" I asked, holding up the outfit, "This would be what I’m trying to achieve in one outfit. It says: Creative. Modern. Stylish."
He nodded and kept typing.
I went to my shoe shelf and pulled out a pair of black patent strappy Alaia heels, clamping down on the top hanger with my chin. ”And these. These add the sexy element.”
He flipped the screen around and showed me what he had typed: “Blah blah blah blah blah”
I sighed and threw the ensemble down on my bed. He came over, gave me a kiss, put his arms around me and said: ”I like this Jessica.” He told me he didn’t know why I was being so hard on myself.
"I just want perfection," I declared, sliding my closet door even wider, "I want to start all over and get rid of this stuff. I want to love everything in my closet!"
"But, if you only keep the stuff that you love, you won’t have anything that you like.”
The other night, my boyfriend gave me three movie choices and asked me to pick one for us to watch before going to bed. I forget what the other two were, but I ended up choosing Little Fockers(which probably gives you a clue as to the level of cinematic works I was dealing with). One thing that you must know about The Boyfriend is that he is completely obsessed with horror flicks, so whenever he suggests a film that doesn’t involve vampires, zombies, or ghosts, I’m totally on it.
In Little Fockers, Ben Stiller’s character, who is married with children, encounters a flirtatious young business associate (played by Jessica Alba) and finds himself in a predicament where his father-in-law starts to suspect that he’s carrying on an extramarital affair. It gets to the point where Jessica Alba’s character starts crossing major boundaries after getting drunk, including spiking his drink with a Viagra-like pill, making out with him, and stripping down to her bra and panties. She falls asleep on top of him and he ends up being late to his twins’ fifth birthday party.
What pissed me off about this film is that, by the end, you’re left with this message: “Well, technically, nothing happened”—meaning, they didn’t have sex. Just because they didn’t have sex doesn’t mean nothing happened. This script must’ve been written by a man. Needless to say, I was super annoyed by Jessica Alba’s character.
That night, I dreamt that The Boyfriend and I went running in Central Park and we came across a cave that was set up like a modern apartment. Jessica Alba comes in and tells us that she lives there. The Boyfriend brings up how he’s been embracing the outdoors, and she starts gushing and flirting with him, as if I were invisible! Then, she asks for his number, and he freaking gives it to her! I’m infuriated by this. Dream ends. I wake up with a sudden urge to punch him in the shoulder while screaming: “You jerk! I can’t believe you gave your number to Jessica Alba!!!” (But, of course, I don’t because I’m not a complete psycho.)
Later on, I ask him what he thought of the movie. He shrugs and says that he wasn’t really paying attention because he drifted in and out of sleep. I start on my tirade and then bring up the dream.
The Boyfriend: “Aw, I’m sorry that movie upset you, babe. Jessica Alba is a horrible actress anyway. Next time, we’ll watch a scary movie because then I’d know how to handle the situation if you get upset by a zombie.”
I used to cook. A lot. My old blog on Xanga was sprinkled with recipes—ones I’ve made up and ones inspired from new cookbooks, vintage cookbooks, dishes I’ve had on my travels, dishes from retro eras, macrobiotics and health dishes, cooking shows, magazine articles, and restaurant menus. The catch is that I’m only moved to cook when I know I’m cooking for others rather than myself. Otherwise, I’m pretty satisfied resorting to my less elaborate Single Girl Dinners.
Carrie Bradshaw’s Secret Single Behavior (S.S.B.) was eating a stack of saltines with grape jelly while standing up at the kitchen counter and reading Vogue. This is not so far off from my Single Girl Dinners, which is whatever I can scrounge up and put together in a jiffy. Last night’s dinner was pretty typical:
2 slices of Kavli rye crispbread slathered with a thin coat of cream cheese and snipped herbs, topped with strips of smoked salmon
Salad of sea vegetables drizzled with Greek olive oil and a few shakes of ume plum vinegar, and freshly ground black pepper
A handful of cold cherry tomatoes on my plate for snacking
"Dessert": sliced pear with honey-roasted peanut butter (Sometimes I’ll even have a small glass of vanilla almond milk with dessert.)
C’est tout. I felt pretty satiated—although, now that I think of it, miso soup would’ve really rounded out that meal.
Other Single Girl Dinners that I’ve made:
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half, with tartar sauce and an anchovy-wrapped caper + Triscuits with sliced sharp cheddar cheese
There she was, sitting at the edge of the pool at Hotel Zaza in Houston, swinging her toned legs into the water, wearing a white string bikini with her blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail—my friend Gina. Little did I know at the time that we would become such close friends. We met last May when I had moved back to Texas for only about a month. A friend of a friend had reached out to me on Facebook and invited me to come join his friends at the Zaza one Saturday. I ended up going because: a) I had nothing else to do and b) I had next to zero friends and needed to meet new people.
Although she was friendly, Gina and I were briefly introduced to each other and didn’t chat very much. Before I left that day, she came up to me and said: “Girl, I know you just moved here and everything. If you ever want to hang out, here’s my number. What’s your number? I’ll call you sometime.” I saved her number into my phone and gave her mine, not having much faith that I’d ever see or hear from her again. Most of the time, when I meet people in circumstances like that, exchanging numbers can reduced to a perfunctory nicety.
She called the next day. And, surprisingly, it wasn’t an awkward call where I was basically on the phone with a stranger and had nothing to say—we were having a very open and generous conversation with each other right off the bat. There was some crazy cosmic connection that was happening over the phone. We seemed to just get each other. This may sound strange, but I could actually envision a future for our friendship. I took it as a good sign.
A beautiful friendship blossomed in the brief three months when I was living there. We comiserated and consoled eachother over cupcakes and champagne, fried mushrooms and beer, and margaritas with chips and queso. (This last combo is a very Texas thing that I wholly embraced.) We were each other’s plus-ones to events. We danced ‘til two in the morning, and secretly scarfed down Jack in the Box tacos in the car with our heels kicked off. We had conversations that purely consisted of inside jokes and uncontrollable laughter. We were nicknamed “The Gruesome Twosome.”
When I received a call from L’Oreal about a job opportunity, I told Gina I was going to make a trip to New York for the interview process. “I have the feeling that I won’t see you again—that this is for good,” she said. “I know,” I remember responding sadly, “Me too.” She took me to Anthropologie and bought me a pair of crystal-cut glass candlesticks and an Art Deco-esque perfume bottle. I once told her that I couldn’t imagine living on my own again. Moving back home to my dad’s house had me starting from scratch, except, if at all possible, it felt worse. When she picked out the objects, she assured me that I’d probably have my own room one day soon and that she wanted to kick-start my decorating efforts. I was incredibly touched.
Gina is one of the most down-to-earth, funniest, and grounded people I know. I moved to Texas and had to leave my support system of friends in New York when I needed them the most. I thought it would take me years to find and build a good friendship, but meeting Gina dispelled that. Nothing is more uplifting than finding a good friend—Gina is like a margarita for my soul.
My friend Ashley is an absolute hoot to hang out with because she’s one of the girliest girls I know. She holds relatively traditional values when it comes to male and female dynamics and is always impeccably dressed. Her room is outfitted in chic white sheets and she is ever the gracious hostess. When I stayed with her for a week last fall, she laid out a fresh Ralph Lauren towel on the bed for me, along with the latest issue of Vogue and an array of mini toiletries. She’s the type of girl who would take the time to enrobe her entire body in the most luxurious creams, lotions, and oils so that her skin stays impossibly smooth and soft. I’m pretty sure she carries hand cream in her handbag. That’s always been an indicator of ultra femininity. Me? I’m lucky if I can fish out a loose peppermint candy from the bottom of my L.L. Bean tote.
There’s one story that truly captures Ashley in a nutshell. We were talking about relationships once and, for some reason, I asked if she had ever slapped a guy before. She replied, “Yes, once.” This asshole must’ve done something awful to get slapped across the face, I thought. I was almost afraid to ask, thinking I’d stir up bad memories for her. She told me the story and I couldn’t stop laughing. This is why I love this girl. The story went something like this:
"My ex Deran and I went on a trip to Cabo years ago and my mom had given me this really nice Chanel soap. I specifically told him not to use it and explained that it was very expensive. It’s CHANEL. He didn’t know what Chanel was and what it meant to a woman. I even bought him his own bar of soap to use! Well, he went to go shower and, when I walk in, what do I see? He was using my Chanel soap! Jess, I was SO mad. I was like ‘Urrrghhh!!!’ and lunged at him and slapped him in the face. I was like: ‘This soap costs fifty dollars and you’re gonna use it on your butt????’ Idiot.”
The Grand "Afternoon Tea for One" Catastrophe at The Wolseley
Dining alone is one of those activities that I’ve become accustomed to over the years and even grown to cherish. On Tuesday night, after doing a little after-work shopping in SoHo, I walked over to a neighborhood sushi spot in Nolita called Mottsu for a quick bite. It’s not exactly a temple to the artform of sushi, by any means. Their simple menu is affordable, with the occasional sprinkling of special delights such as ankimo (monkfish liver pate), botan ebi (spot prawn), and broiled miso black cod. It’s just the sort of place you’d pop into, on-the-fly, when you have a hankering for sushi and can’t seem to find a buddy to bite. I was in and out of there within half an hour. Going solo at a restaurant isn’t always such an effortless affair, though—a nerve-wracking lesson I learned four years ago when I decided to have afternoon tea by myself for the first time at The Wolseley in London.
I had spent the earlier portion of the afternoon strolling around Mayfair, gallery-hopping and wandering in and out of the plethora of luxury shops and boutiques along Bond Street. By 4 p.m., my feet cried out for a rest and my tummy was grumbling, so I thought to myself how lovely it would be to have a relaxing afternoon tea at The Woseley, a gorgeous, bustling restaurant done in the grand European cafe tradition, which, luckily for me, was conveniently planted right next to the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly. I floated in, marveled at the high vaulted ceilings, and requested a table for one. Sigh! I’m having afternoon tea in London! Sometimes the idea of dining alone in a foreign city can hold such poetic notions that I start to imagine a sweeping soundtrack to accompany the experience.
The jacketed host escorted me into one of the salons, a smaller room located in the front of the restaurant. I looked around at the little cafe tables that lined the wall. There were pairs and clusters of people around each one, chitter-chattering away. The only empty table was smack dab in the middle of the room. That sweeping soundtrack came to a screeching halt. Everything shifted to slow motion as I walked across the room. It felt like there were dozens of eyes peering at me over their raised teacups. Awkwardly, I squeezed through the party at the table next to me and settled in, booth-side.
"Madam, would you like a newspaper or magazine?"
Oh, shit. Why did I say “newspaper”? I meant “magazine”! Wait! Wait, sir! Dammit.
The host returned with a variety of newspapers in hand and asked which one I preferred: The Times, The Evening Standard, The Independent, The Guardian or The Financial Times. A circus monkey could’ve picked one for me for all I cared because I hadn’t heard of most of those titles. So, I chose the one I actually recognized: "The Financial Times, please.”
He pulled out the FT from the stack in his arm, which stood out from the rest with its distinctive pale pink pages. It was the thickest issue that I had ever recalled. I tried to concentrate on the front page headlines, but all I could think about was how in the world I was supposed to open up the newspaper. Why, oh, why didn’t I choose a newspaper done in a tabloid format? At least I could’ve turned the pages, book-style. I pretended that I was still reading the front page until the waiter left with my order for afternoon tea service.
I decided to attack the situation methodologically like surgeon. First, let’s separate the sections. Nurse! Scalpel, please! Ok, now let’s fold the section length-wise and then continue to fold after each column is read. Breathe, breathe; gentle, gentle. I might as well have been setting up a camping tent for a family of four—the large, cumbersome pages were rustling up a storm. I gave up, laid the messy pile beside me, and started reading previously opened emails on my BlackBerry. It’ll be all better when the tea comes—or so I thought.
A parade of waiters made a beeline toward my table and arranged the afternoon tea service with pomp and circumstance: a silver tiered tray filled with scones, petit fours, and finger sandwiches; little porcelain jars of jams and clotted cream with tiny silver spoon handles poking out of them; a sugar bowl, creamer, teapot, teacup and saucer, and a tea strainer with its own holder. All I needed to draw even more attention were sparklers coming out of the scones, and having one of the waiters slap a sombrero onto my head. After everything was laid out—tock, tock, tock!—they vanished without so much as a workshop, seminar or instruction booklet on what I was supposed to do next.
Is the tea already steeped or do I wait? How long is Earl Grey supposed to steep for anyway? I poured the tea into my cup. Crap—forgot to put the strainer on! A flurry of tea leaves swirled around at the bottom. I dropped in two lumps of brown sugar and added a thin stream of milk. I remembered reading somewhere that one is never supposed to stir the tea, but rather “fold” the milk and sugar into the tea with a spoon.
I stared at the three-tiered tray as I was “folding” my tea. Where do I start? Is there an order? Do I go top-down, bottom-up, or, should I walk on the wild side and go at it randomly? To me, it made sense to start with savories and end with sweets, but then why are the sandwiches at the bottom and the sweets in the middle? I went with my instinct and started nibbling on the fluffy finger sandwiches. They were so dainty that it almost felt barbaric to be eating with my bare hands.
The warm, golden scones were perfectly done, almost cartoonishly perfect. I plucked one off of the top tier and sliced it cross-wise.(I later found out through Google that some purists have written that scones are supposed to be broken off into pieces and not sliced, but, whatever!) What next? Does the clotted cream come before or after the strawberry jam? Typically, if I were eating toast with butter and jam, I’d put the butter on first—which I naturally associated with the clotted cream—but, when I observed another woman eating a scone, she spread the jam on first and then spooned a dollop of the clotted cream on top.
I had to stop with my Woody Allen-esque neuroses and try to be leisurely about the whole experience—or, be in my own world, so to speak—so I had my Marie-Papier journal and a pen handy to jot down ideas, random thoughts, and notes in between tier-transitions and sips of tea. When I looked up, I noticed that the group next to me had left and another singleton was seated in their place. She was wearing sporty hiking clothes and carried a backpack. Clearly a tourist, I thought.
"Hi, excuse me," she said to me in a hushed tone, "Have you ever had afternoon tea before? This is my first time."
I received an unexpected call last night. I had just come home from a friend’s gallery opening uptown and relaxed in bed with my laptop—decidedly active on Facebook out of sheer boredom—when my phone rang. Hm. It was a number I didn’t recognize with a Houston area code. Could be family for all I know. I picked it up, “Hello?”
A strangely familiar girlish voice blurted out a succession of questions: “Hi, where are you? Are you in New York? Did you get that job?”
"Who is this?" I asked, confused.
"Oh no!" said the voice, sincerely disappointed, "You don’t even have my number saved into your phone?"
"Oh, I’m sorry, I’ve gotten a new phone since I’ve moved here," I explained apologetically, still not having a clue who I was speaking with.
"It’s me, Hanh."
Hanh was a friend from high school. We had several classes together, but were never really close. She was a lanky, socially awkward girl, who had a child-like demeanor and always seemed to be cheerful. We reconnected last summer when she saw through Facebook that I had moved back to Texas. She had an extra ticket to our 10-year high school reunion and sent a message asking if I wanted to join her. I hadn’t planned on going, but thought it was very sweet, generous, and a little bit strange, seeing as how we hadn’t kept in touch or seen each other in a decade. Hanh even went so far as to offer to pick me up at my dad’s house since I didn’t have a car. She was very nice about it, nonetheless.
"How are you, Hanh?"
"I’m not doing so well," she said in a forced upbeat tone, "I’ll be OK. Everybody keeps telling me not to worry and I keep telling them that I’m not worried, but nobody will listen! I’m… I’m not doing so well. I had to take a medical leave from work and the doctor has me on all kinds of medicines and I told her that I don’t want them, but she doesn’t listen! Now I’m having all of the side effects. Where are you? Are you around? Are you busy? Do you have time to talk?"
By this point, she sounded like she was on the verge of tears.
"No, I’m not busy. I have time to talk. Tell me what’s going on. Why were you on medical leave?" I settled back into my pillows, with my arms crossed over my chest, concerned.
I gasped. She went on to tell me of how she was diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder at the age of sixteen and had to take a medical leave from school for a whole month. I suddenly recalled that disappearance. She started telling me about how she was unhappy with the psychiatrist she had been seeing because the doctor kept changing her meds up. She didn’t know that she had anxiety. Her rambling started to blur like the residual echoing from a loud gong.
I started opening up and told her that I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at sixteen—the same time we were in high school together—and how I think that it has only gotten worse because now I’ve become increasingly anti-social. She was surprised to hear this and told me that she always remembered me being outgoing and around people. It all started after my parents finalized their divorce and I returned to my dad’s house.
During junior year, I joined the cross country running team and, for some reason, found it incredibly difficult to breathe before and after a run, which became worse in actual races. I was one of the top seven runners during practice, but felt paralyzed when we went to compete—I finished dead last once. My coach couldn’t understand why. I was convinced that I had asthma, so I went to see a doctor, who gave me an inhaler to use. Then, it started happening in my classes, especially before an exam. My heart would start racing, and there it went. I would be hyperventilating with my hand over my chest, feeling dizzy.
The migraine headaches started coming next. The pain would become unbearable to the point where I would have to go to the nurse’s office and lay in the dark until it subsided. I needed quiet and darkness at home. I remember running home after school and collapsing into bed with the covers over my head. Once, my sister Jeanie opened the door to check on me and all I could muster was a whisper for her to please turn off the lights. I couldn’t function. The school counselor recommended that I return to the doctor who then diagnosed me with the anxiety disorder and put me on medication for it.
When I moved to New York at the age of eighteen, these symptoms started going away. Maybe stress anxiety was a phase that only came with the pressures of graduating high school. I felt blessed for not having to experience migraines again!
Four years ago, when things in my relationship with The Russian went awry, it manifested itself into acid reflux. When I felt sad or upset about something, I started hyperventilating and felt washed over with nausea. I would stay kneeled over the toilet, vomiting what seemed like ten buckets of clear liquid at a time. This lasted for years.
Seemingly out of nowhere, I developed hives after I broke off my engagement and moved back to Texas—my entire body would be covered in red, puffy patches and my eyes and lips swelled to enormous proportions. It was the epitome of suffering. Even my scalp was covered in hives. Nothing worked to stop it. I had sleepless nights of painful itching where I tried helplessly not to scratch and inflame it even further. (Funny story: My sister Jacklyn came to me last summer and told me she had a gift for me. She felt so bad seeing me itch that she bought me a backscratcher!) I thought I might be allergic to something, given the change of environment from New York to Texas. I went to the same doctor who diagnosed me with anixety at sixteen—he told me that it wasn’t allergies; it was anxiety.
I feel like my mind is in a different place at times. I can’t quite explain it, nor control it. Most of the time I feel like I’m just about to cry, even if it doesn’t look like it—even when I’m telling a joke and laughing! Imagine a water balloon that will gush with tears if something as light as a feather brushes against it. Sometimes I’ll cry for, like, two minutes, for no reason at all. Sometimes it’ll come in waves for hours. I have no idea where it comes from or why—and, never having been a religious person whatsoever, I find myself praying to God to make it go away.
When Hanh said that she does the exact same thing, I was both a) relieved that I wasn’t the only one who has been through it, and b) scared. I’ve read Sylvia Plath’s only novel The Bell Jar and one of my biggest fears was that I would mentally unravel, slowly and unbeknownst to me, like the protagonist Esther Greenwood.
"Hey, Hanh," I said, as we were wrapping up our conversation, "What made you call me?"
"I was on Facebook and saw your updates in my livefeed. It made me think of you. I remember a lot of nice things about you, and I haven’t heard from you in a while. But I respect your time."
"Hanh. If you ever need to talk, or anything at all, just call me, ok?"
The Cool Girlfriend bakes cookies for her boyfriend and also wraps up a couple of batches for his closest buddies. The Cool Girlfriend is completely laissez-faire when her boyfriend goes out with friends, yet still texts him goodnight. And, above all, the Cool Girlfriend doesn’t flip out everytime a girl friend calls her boyfriend’s phone. Let’s face it, people: The Cool Girlfriend does not exist—at least not entirely.
The Cool Girlfriend is what we would like to aspire to, but it’s hard-pressed to believe that anyone can be a 100% cool girlfriend. It’s like the human error problem: you can’t avoid that momentary lapse into absent-minded behavior that results in accidents or mistakes. Somewhere along the lines, we’re bound to blow a fuse when we’re hungry, make a joke in bad form, or freak out over seeing an old picture of our boyfriends with an ex. Cool Girlfriend moments, though, are definitely attainable.
When it comes to certain situations, we generally have an idea of how The Cool Girlfriend would handle it. This is what a friend once told me is referred to as “The Cool Girlfriend Method.” Apparently, when you find yourself in a scenario with a male (could be a boyfriend, husband, or simply someone you’re interested in) where your nerves have been rattled, or where you have to make some kind of decision, just take a deep breath and mentally chant to yourself: Cool Girlfriend. Like the mantras in a Zen practice, this will force you to focus and tap into your inner Cool Girlfriend. Go with it. This doesn’t mean to overlook everything—some things are worth the battle.
If you don’t have the foundations of The Cool Girlfriend Method yet, try thinking of the basic components of a good relationship: trust, self-esteem, affection, understanding, honesty, tact, thoughtfulness, laughter, etc. Here are just a few of the bigger things that I need to remember myself:
Learn to let things go. Don’t get me wrong—if something bothers you, speak up, but try to be cognizant of not making him feel judged, criticized, or blamed. It’s also a good opportunity to gauge the dynamic between the both of you in how he responds. If he genuinely listens to your concerns/comments, and you both come to a good place in the conversation, let it go and move forward. You only need to think about it if it happens again.
Give him space to breathe. The thing about finding a great guy is that you may want to spend all of your time with him. Don’t forget that one of the things that drew you to him in the first place are his individual interests and experiences, and vice-versa. Everyone is juggling a lot on their plate these days—the time that you give him to breathe also allows you to breathe, whether it be to catch up with friends and side projects, or just relax.
Be flexible. In newer relationships, it takes time to understand each other’s expectations when it comes to getting a good sense of each other’s weekly agenda. Try to be understanding to a reasonable extent if there’s a change in plans.
Everybody has a past, so leave it there. There may be things that bother you about his past, but focus on the present so that you don’t end up harping on his past OR your own. Smile—he’s with you now.
I knew I had found a kindred foodie spirit in Mr. X when, during my first week at the private equity firm, I ended up having a four-hour lunch at Le Bernardin and he supported it. (I was assigned to write a restaurant review for Vivid Magazine before I was hired at the firm.) He was the only other person on our small team who appreciated food and fine dining as much as I did. The founding partner only ever ordered simply grilled fish, the two female partners were super picky about what they ate, the V.P. was all about meat-and-potatoes, and the analyst had very pedestrian Westchester tastes.
About that four-hour lunch, I’ll admit that it was totally not kosher, even if I had been long-term employee. I remembered explaining to Mr. X, who was a partner and Chief Operating Officer, that I had previously committed to reviewing the restaurant as a freelance assignment. He waved it off and said it was fine. I honestly thought that a lunch was a lunch, meaning one hour—an hour and a half, max.
I couldn’t think of anyone who would be more delighted to have—or, more accurately, have the time for—a leisurely four-star lunch uptown than my dear friend Christopher J.W. We were giddy with excitement, especially since the eight-course Chef’s Tasting menu came with wine pairings. After the first hour, we found ourselves barely getting through the appetizer course: a slowly poached egg, garnished with a glistening scoop of osetra caviar, with a silky, aromatic shellfish consomme delicately poured around it. “Cheers, darling!” we said, as we clinked flutes of Krug’s Grand Cuvee. By the third course, we were sloshed. I apologetically texted the office throughout the meal and brought back a box of freshly baked macarons for everyone, adding the tiniest little white lie that they were compliments from Chef Eric Ripert himself. I was forgiven.
Mr. X has become one of my good friends and still laughs about that lunch today. He has invited me to some of the nicest lunches I’ve ever had: The Four Seasons Restaurant, The University Club, Nobu 57, Sushi Ann, The Sidecar at P.J. Clarke’s, Caviar Russe, Smith & Wollensky’s, and Le Caprice. I felt lucky that I was able to periodically escape the Midtown lunch curse of deli salad bars—or lunch chains like Qdobo—for white tablecloths, real silverware, and luxurious dishes like oysters on the half-shell, tagliatelle with lobster and uni, and Dover sole meuniere. Of course, most of the time, we would grab a soup and sandwich across the street at Pret-A-Manger—there was still work to be done, after all.
I tried my hand at stand-up comedy in first grade at the age of six. Every Friday, the teacher would randomly draw a student’s name from a fishbowl, and that student had to read a book to all of the first grade classes at school, Jerry Seinfeld-style: into a microphone while sitting on a tall wooden stool. The catch was that it had to be a book of your own selection, so we were required to carry a book of our choice every Friday, just in case our name was picked.
In anticipation of being in the spotlight among my peers, I strategically carried my favorite books every Friday, like The Giving Tree and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Right before the teacher would announce the chosen student’s name, my little heart would beat wildly, only to be met with disappointment when mine wasn’t called. After a while, I gave up.
The gods must’ve loved to play tricks on me because, lo and behold, when my name was finally called, the only book that I had on me was a stupid joke book called A Frog Sandwich: Riddles & Jokes. I panicked. If I said that I had forgotten to bring a book, I would lose my chance—and Lord only knows how long I waited for this momentous occasion. “Where is hellomissdang? Is she here? Should we pick another name?” I doggedly grabbed onto my book and hurried along to center stage.
I held onto the mic, got situated on the stool, and cleared my throat, “My name is hellomissdang and today I’m going to read a book called A Frog Sandwich: Riddles & Jokes.” I turned to the first page. Ok. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right. “‘Waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup?’” I read, then broke from character, looked around and asked, “Anybody? Anybody?” I swear, you could hear crickets in the room. “The backstroke!” I mused. Dead silence. A kid named Bubba burped and gave me a blank stare. I flipped to the next page. This is excruciating. Storytime was only supposed to last half an hour, but it felt like an eternity. I was hoping that one of the teachers would send out The Sandman to sweep me off-stage, like they did on Showtime at The Apollo.
I love to laugh and appreciate a good joke as much as the next person, but, when it comes to telling one, it’s like re-living that humiliating day in first grade all over again. The key to telling a joke is that you absolutely cannot forget the punchline. I have two that I keep in my hip pocket for emergencies: (1) a deadpanner and (2) a narrative joke. Here they are, but—don’t forget—it’s all in the delivery!
Joke #1: A rabbi walks into a bar with a duck on his head. The bartender says, “Hey, cool—where’d you get that?” The duck says, “In Brooklyn!”
Joke #2: Two tortoises decide to go on a picnic, so they pack some sandwiches and beer into a picnic basket and go on their way. It takes them three days to get to their destination. When they unpack the picnic basket, Tortoise #1 notices that they forgot the bottle opener so he begs Tortoise #2 to go back to get it. Tortoise #2 refuses because he’s convinced that Tortoise #1 will eat all of the sandwiches and drink all of the beer by the time he gets back. Tortoise #1 swears on his life and promises not to touch a thing until he returns, so Tortoise #2 finally agrees. After waiting five days, Tortoise #1 gets so hungry that he reaches into the basket and takes out a sandwich. Just as he’s about to bite into it, Tortoise #2 pops out from behind a rock and says: “I KNEW IT! I’M NOT F*CKING GOING!”
In 2006, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with the idea of “the uniform.” No frills, no embellishments—just pure, minimalist pieces: skinny jeans, white tailored shirt, black blazer, cashmere sweaters, classic pumps. I wanted my entire wardrobe to be inspired by the Jil Sander boutique. Sure, it can be described as somewhat predictable, but there are unexpected elements to be had, too. I wanted to appreciate fashion, but not think too much about what to wear, so I would shop for rather “boring” pieces that could be interchangeable. The Roberto Cavalli aesthetic was the antithesis of the look I was striving for: I wanted to be stylish yet inconspicuous enough to sort of blend into my surroundings—more intellectual; less sexy. This all changed on a trip to Milan.
Once upon a time, I was a slave to fashion. I pored through pages and pages of fashion magazines and was willing to travel far and wide to hunt down items that I deemed were “must-haves”—once, the search for a pair of black knitted Miu Miu shorts took me from Paris to Florence and finally to Milan where I snatched up a pair. Did I ever wear them? No! (Sadly, I ended up eBaying them for a fraction of what they had cost.) And that vintage white ostrich feather-trimmed gown that I had to have from the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show—think I ever wore that number? No! (It was something that was only worn when I was feeling blue and wanted to feel like a 1950’s movie star.) I had a big walk-in closet filled with satin pencil skirts, chiffon tops, cocktail dresses and sky-high heels, yet, when I had to do anything in the rain, wind, or snow, I found myself in a pickle.
When I moved back to New York last fall, I had two weeks’ worth of clothing packed into a big suitcase and a carry-on. I brought only my utmost necessities: jeans, t-shirts, a dress, a blazer, a pencil skirt, a couple of nice tops, a sweatshirt hoodie, yoga pants, leggings, sneakers, pumps, a black leather jacket and a trench coat. One trip back to Texas last December afforded me a change-out to winter gear. My whole way of dressing was reset. I realized how impractical my wardrobe was, especially for my current lifestyle, which does not include schmoozing at auctions and fancy restaurants. I needed to get some practical foundation pieces. Here are a just few of the things that I can’t imagine living without:
I first saw kettlebells when I stayed at my friend Andrew’s apartment this past fall. He had started working out with them two summers ago and sang about their glory. I, however, was intimidated by them. They looked like something a burly Soviet soldier would use, and for a good reason: these pure cast iron weights originated in ancient Russia and have traditionally been an important fitness training tool for the Russian military. It looked like I could definitely hurt myself using them. My main fear, while watching Andrew swing those things around, was that his grip would inevitably slip and this heavy metal ball would land on top of his foot—Looney Tunes-style. In addition, I was under the impression that it would make me look more like a stocky Aleksandr Fyodorov type and less of a long, lithe Svetlana Zakharova type. Out of curiosity, I took a Kettlebell Cardio class at Equinox.
Today was the ultimate spring day in New York City—there was bright sunshine, cool air, and an overall breeziness that reminded me of the beautiful places that I’ve had the fortune to visit. The one place that I’ve thought about returning to the most is Chateau de Massillan, a deluxe boutique hotel situated in the idyllic French countryside of Provence. I was there when I was only 22 years old and just barely comfortable speaking French conversationally, even though I studied it throughout high school. It was my first time in France—I was a real ingenue.
Last fall, when I was aggressively job hunting, I received a call back from a recruiter named Deborah who specialized in placement within the creative industries. I was asked to dress as if I were on a job interview, so I wore a grey silk Prada blouse with an asymmetrical neckline underneath a modern-cut black skirt suit by Jil Sander for Uniqlo, and black Christian Louboutin pumps with anklestraps. My Pomellato rock crystal and 18-karat gold earrings added a touch of sparkle. I wanted to look polished, but with a stylish edge. It was an outfit that made me feel confident.
Writing a thank you card these days is somewhat of a lost art. I used to be a real perfectionist—I’d buy letterpressed cards and spend time drafting the message on scrap paper before writing directly onto the card stock. But then I received a thank you card that forever changed my approach: it was a chic white card monogrammed with my friend Christopher’s initials “C.J.W.” and elegantly scribbled with nothing more than “Thank you for inviting me to lunch. XOXO." Sometimes that’s all you have to say. The simplicity and spontaneity was earth-shattering for me.
Last Friday, I was invited to a small dinner party at Esca that was hosted by an Upper East Side power couple. While they were very “uptown”—she swanned into the restaurant in a big fluffy fur while he was suited up, and they were driven away after dinner in a glossy black Benz by their chauffeur Nathaniel—their personalities were anything but conservative and stuffy. Over the weekend, I was thinking about what sort of thank you card I should send until I realized that I was over-thinking it. You can’t be too serious about these things.
At the studio yesterday, I took one of our company’s “With compliments” cards, used a label-maker to cover it with “THANK YOU!,” and whited out the studio’s address. I wrote down why I was thanking them and added a thoughtful note about the meal (they had mentioned that they dine at Esca especially for the raw oysters and subsequently ordered a generous tray for the table). Then, I topped off the message with a “Hope to see you soon” and into the mailbox it went!
I’ve been jabbing my finger into my abs to test how firm the muscles are, and, while they’ve gotten tighter, there’s still a layer of softness (a.k.a. FAT) on top of all the good stuff underneath. This alone has turned me into a woman on a mission, and that mission is to get my body toned-up and leaner ASAP. I recently turned up the dial on my workout regimen—it’s about finding that footing again and establishing a routine, but also truly committing yourself to being disciplined. You have to want it, and, boy, do I want it. After almost a year of inconsistent exercise, I’m getting back into the swing of things. That switch in me has been officially clicked on. I’ve been trying out several classes at Equinox (yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, spinning, etc.), but my favorite one—hands-down—is called “Whipped!”
At the end of last September, I took a sublet in a three-bedroom apartment in Stuyvesant Town where my friend Janis lives. One of her roomies had gotten engaged and moved out, leaving a nice, fully furnished bedroom behind. Janis and her remaining roommate had found someone else to replace her, but there was a one month gap before that other person could officially move in. The timing couldn’t have been better for me because I had basically been couch-surfing for a few weeks already when Janis told me about it. I had exactly one month to find a full-time job and figure out the rest from there.
This picture was taken almost exactly a year ago when I moved back to my dad’s house in Texas. My dad and stepmom always seemed to be preparing something whenever I sauntered down to the kitchen. Dad might be scaling and gutting a fresh red snapper that his fisherman friend had dropped off as a gift, or mincing cloves of garlic to rub on slabs of ribeye steak. Stepmom might be sitting on a tiny wooden footstool, with a mountain of fresh herbs set on sheets of old newspapers before her, plucking off any yellowed leaves while chatting on the phone with her sister. Birds would be chirping in the old pear tree outside the window in front of the kitchen sink.
I only lived at home for about four months, but this image captures a wealth of memories for me. To me, it’s a moving picture—like a reel of film spinning in my mind.
Soho House: The Freelancer's Office Away from Home
I remember back in 2003 when the news broke that Soho House, a contemporary private members’ club based in London, was expanding its brand by opening an outpost in New York’s Meatpacking District. I was at a cocktail party with my friend Alex and we were chatting with a pretty half-Japanese, half-German girl named Hermine who told us that she was being appointed as their marketing and PR person. Everyone was atwitter about how it was going to change the face of private social clubs, which was either known to be stodgy or located uptown.
One of my favorite blush colors is the beauty cult favorite Orgasm by NARS, which was named appropriately so because its universally flattering, shimmery, pinky-peach shade gives your cheeks a glowy, post-coittal flush with just a swirl of the brush.
My philosophy with blush application, though, is to keep swirling until you think you’ve put on too much—that’s when it’s just enough. It’s one of my little tricks for livening up my complexion and keeping that rosy look throughout the day. Whenever I try to use a light hand for a “natural” look, it never looks like anything and fades away within an hour or so. After all, if there’s too much pigment initially, you can always balance it out with some pressed or loose translucent powder on top.
Sometimes at the end of a long day at work, all that’s left is the shimmer part of the blush. When I came over to The Boyfriend’s apartment one night last week, this is what I was greeted with:
”Have you been motorboating a stripper? Your face is all sparkly.”
Last September, when I moved back to New York, I desperately needed a haircut and my regular hairstylist Dean at Cutler Salon was away on an African safari, so I did the unthinkable: I let another hairstylist from a different salon (which shall remain unnamed) convince me to lop off my hair and he totally butchered it! As he was chopping off my hair, he told me that he was “inspired by Berlin.” I ended up with a razored, uneven shoulder-length catastrophe. I was pissed. I wanted to tell him to get on the next flight to Berlin.
When Dean returned, he had to cut it into a short bob in order to remedy the lopsidedness of it. There’s a point when your hair looks so effed up by a bad haircut that you actually want to go shorter. The blunt bob has had a few months to grow out a bit and now I’m ready for something softer and more feminine, with layers and movement—something like Natalia Vodianova’s hairstyle in these shots for Numéro.
Carolyn: OMG. Last night, Derek was looking over my shoulder at my tumblr and goes: “What’s tumblr? Should I start one?” Then, he goes, in this fake wistful voice: “Inspirations: Journal of a 32-Year Old Man.”
Last summer, when I was newly single and back home in Texas, my friend Janis introduced me to OkCupid.com, the free online dating website. I didn’t think I’d seriously meet anyone on there, but I was certainly curious enough to create an account to browse.
I received a few interesting messages here and there, but overall didn’t feel like building the necessary momentum for anything to transpire. After some putzing around, I ended up deleting my account a couple of months later. However, I did manage to take away something valuable from my brief OkCupid.com experience: I was able to define what I was looking for in a guy in three bullet points.