how it's done

The Thin Man is one of my favorite movies, naturally. (satin! guns! gin! Myrna Loy! banter!)
And the opening clip here is perhaps my favorite 40 second-scene ever put to film.

I think it's time for a pre-dinner cocktail, don't you?


paper chase

Let's play word association! The word is: Moleskine.
I say: hipster, emo, trendy, fauxhemian, pretentious.
Also: my constant companion.

It's not that I have a single thing against carrying a smallish notebook- heavens, no. I am forever flipping through my little notebook to look for this or that address, or write something down, or digging through the pocket in the back of the Moleskine to find a drycleaning receipt.
It's just that it's not perfect; I once had the perfect little pocket notebook, and anything but that is now a disappointment to me.
Years ago, I bought a small black Bindewerk notebook at a stationery store in Minneapolis. Its edges were tipped in metal, and the elastic closure was secure enough to keep a tiny Spacepen in place atop the notebook. I assumed these notebooks would always be there for me, and therefore did not think to buy them by the gross.
And it turns out that those lovely, perfect Bindewerk notebooks were never again in that store, and I was forced to turn to Moleskine: with pages that cannot be torn out, because the binding will unravel immediately, and a spine that cracks and peels with the lightest of use, and an elastic closure that will hold nothing weightier than a paper clip. I am displeased.

Bindewerk, shockingly, does not have an online store. I think I may have found one website selling my perfect little notebook, but it's in German (I think), and I cannot tell what sizes they are selling, and the prices seem to convert to something like $40 per notebook, and that cannot possibly be correct. After a fruitless search through every Kate's Paperie and similarly fancy stationery store in New York this spring, I got home and emailed Bindewerk in frustration. Turns out they do have one retailer in the US- in New York, naturally. I don't know when I'll be back in New York (perhaps over Thanksgiving?), but I plan to call ahead to their one shop and ask them to set aside two dozen or so notebooks for me in advance of my visit.


inexplicable fashion spread, v. 3,734.

I once received a bathrobe as the Most Disappointing Birthday Gift Ever. (I was turning 17, and expecting the Jack Kerouac boxed set of readings and music on CDs; instead, I opened a package the approximate size and weight of said boxed set, and found a cream terrycloth bathrobe, and gave my parents a look that could be described as I Hate You and Your Goddamn Practical Gift.)

I think this robe is almost as disappointing as the Happy 17th Birthday robe:

From Vogue's August 2008 "Equal Opportunity" spread

Vogue's own copy describes this $3,740 "Marc Jacobs blush wool-blend coat" as "relaxed and robe-like".
I'd go so far as to say it is actually a $3,740 bathrobe. Psst, Amazon can get you the same damn thing for $90.


hat trick

I am aware that this process of transferring posts from, oh, forever ago up to the present has hit snags, such as some things double-posting, and some things not showing up at all. At present, I'm not especially inclined to spend my free time fixing this (free time is for Netflix and trips to North Ave beach, after all). At some point in the future, I may go through and clean the archives up a bit. Just ignore wonky double-posts and send good tech vibes my way, mmmkay?

Aside from the above, I am pre-wondering if I can wear a beret this fall without looking like a complete ass. For a long while, I feared hats and scarves of all sorts upon my head, but this was more a product of my once-extremely-short haircut and the associated thought processes of strangers that went inch-long hair... scarf... cancer patient! than it was a function of how I actually look in headwear. In fact, I generally look pretty good in all assorted types of hats and such.

But: a beret may be different. A beret seems to invite people to put on a faux-French accent and ask me if I have any Grey Poupon. I fear going from "jaunty hat" to "the next trend in hipster trash". (See: keffiyeh scarves, plastic miniblind sunglasses, et al.) While I have some friends who have successfully rocked a beret (pale pink with sequins, even), these friends are significantly more model-type than I. And they are not plagued with second-guessing their decision to wear a hat, it seems.

By "beret" I DO NOT MEAN one of those knitted, open-weave oversized trustafarian snoods that contain masses of dreadlocks. Oh no. Those are abominations. Also, not a Kangol, for the love of god. No, the potential beret of my future would be simple, unadorned wool.

Should I be deliberating over a $10 hat purchase? Probably not. But one must always be willing to ask oneself "will wearing this make me look like a a pretentious asshole?" before leaving the house in the morning.


thoughts on pants

Noticed at Rock the Bells this weekend:
it is a bad idea, if you are a very short man, to wear very long shorts.
(You know the kind I mean: the kind that hit at the lower shin and are often indiscernible from high-waters, except for the baggy factor. Also, lesson learned: when safesearch is off, do not google "baggy long ghetto shorts". Trust me.)

For when you are under 5' 4", wearing shorts this long will make you look about 4' 6", and also stumpy and utterly unattractive. Plus, you do know you're wearing manpris, right?

(Not that I advocate long, shin-length baggy shorts under any circumstances at all. Oh no. Those shorts make you look like a tool. But if you're already short, they make you look like a SuperTool. An UltraMegaTool. A douchebag.)


sample size

If you go to the fancy-pants Mario Badescu website and take their questionnaire, in a few weeks a big envelope full of goodies will arrive for you to play with. I've already got a serious crush on the Special Cucumber Lotion, and I may have to actually purchase it once the tiny bottle runs out. This toner has erased the traumatic memories of Seabreeze Astringent from middle school, thank god. Pouring rubbing alcohol and Blue No. 4 directly onto your skin is a bad idea, teenagers of America! Learn from my seventh-grade folly!

(In fairness to my earlier rant against Outlets Online and their convoluted return policy, I do need to note that I have finally received a refund for my returned ill-fitting Marc Jacobs (knockoff?) dress. It did take two months, but yes, I did get my money back. I did have to send a half-dozen progressively more furious emails, but the refund did go through today.)


come sit a spell

How was I not aware that the Post Office had issued Charles & Ray Eames stamps until Ms. Spinach noted it? Of course, when I finally got to my post office, they were sold out, so my stamps have been ordered online (with extra costs for postage, which makes me roll my eyes: you're the damn post office, I'm pretty sure you don't incur postage costs unless you charge yourself.) I plan to only use the Eames stamps to send nice letters to people I like, and ration them out, so as not to waste them on sending the water bill and paying parking tickets.

Wearing today while luxuriating on the sunporch in a camping chair thoughtfully left behind by the prior tenant:

Bamboo-print sundress, vintage; pink sandals, Seychelles. Also, white toenail polish is really easy to touch up at work if you happen to have a white-out pen nearby.


oooh, shiny.

According to the thermometer on the newly-purchased* air conditioner in my apartment, it was 92 degrees in our bedroom at 9 pm.
Now think of 92 degrees plus direct sun and biking about 30 minutes to work, and imagine what a sweaty, shiny mess I must be each day when I step into the office. Sephora suggests that I spend $19.50 on fancy blotting papers to remedy this; or $10 for their shitty store-brand blotting papers that don't work worth a damn and I can't even pull out of the package in single sheets as they stick together in groups of six or so.

Hell no. Instead, go to the nearest Chinatown and look for blotting papers there. Mine have a very elegant-looking Chinese woman on the book, giving me a look that translates to: "Pardon me, but you're looking rather shiny. I can help with that." They also are slightly pink and smell of roses, AND were 75
¢ for a book of 100. That's practically free. And while you're in Chinatown, go get dim sum, because bubble tea is also an excellent cooling refreshment.

*I was awakened at 3 am last night/this morning by a very uncomfortable, overheated boyfriend, who drove to the 24-hour Walmart to purchase an air conditioner. I rolled my eyes at this at first, mostly because he'd woken me up, but I was easily converted to support this technology once the waves of 66 degree air hit my face.


GO! to Target!

This dress from the new GO collection arrived in the mail today from Target, and it is fabulous. (Why the model is missing half her head, I'm not sure. Moving on.)

The reviewers were not kidding when they mention that it is quite short. Perhaps because I'm 5'9", the dress went from "rather short" to "I will have to sew weights in the hem to make sure it doesn't waft up in a breeze and expose my underwear to the world", but daaaaaamn. Regardless of its length (or lack thereof), it's quite lovely. And from an avowed ruffle-fighter*, that's high praise.

*(Jessica, on my decision to purchase this dress: "But D, you hate ruffles!" Me: "I'm just thinking of them as three-dimensional pleats.")


Warriors, come out and plaaaaaaaaaay!

I was too lazy, or possibly too enthralled with the fantastically matching gang costumes, to grab a screenshot to prove that the small silver disc necklace mentioned previously does not only exist in my head.
In the opening subway sequence of The Warriors, The Saracens wear their black tanks with a necklace that may be a dog tag, but looks a little less oblong and more circular. I think that this shot is where the idea came from for the silver disc necklace that I've been half-assedly hunting down, and proves that A) I enjoy laughably bad (bad/awesome, that is) 70's movies about fussily coordinated NYC gangs, and B) I am not just making up jewelry designs in my head, but in fact aspire to dress like I've raided the accessories trailer from The Warriors.

This swimsuit taunts me. "Buy me and lounge on the beach while tossing out wordly bon mots!", it says. "$135 is not too much to pay for something so pretty, and besides, you love a boy-leg swimsuit." Also taunting me: there are only three left in stock. Should I purchase something that may or may not threaten to expose my breasts to unwitting beachgoers? (My breasts have escaped from less perilous pieces of clothing: sundresses, button-up shirts, and so forth. They make a run for freedom every few weeks.) However, logic fails when confronted with something so pretty. I'm going to ignore the fact that I ordered a ridiculously marked-up bottle of champagne last night and spent money I didn't have on delicious sushi and booze, and just pretend that my internship pays me money and that purchasing a new swimsuit is, like, a necessity, given my new proximity to Lake Michigan.


What I tossed on at 8 am today would be what I wore for the entire day, incl. shopping, dim sum, errand-running, hanging out in the laundromat, and drinks out this evening with friends. This is rather unfabulous, but considering I got dressed in the dark and had a slim pick of clean clothing, I think it shall do. Now let's hope tonight's bar is moderately unfancy so I don't have to put on heels that will aggravate my blistered feet.

Grey tee, American Apparel; navy jersey dress, Express; peacock feather necklace, Urban Outfitters. Yes, at some point I'll put shoes on, and those will probably be mall-brand too. Oh, horrors.


Think Pink!

My lunch of roasted & peeled baby beets (me, as I'm putting together my lunch: "hmmmm, the beets aren't peeled as nicely and evenly as I like. What a first-world problem I have!") with goat cheese, and Trader Joe's pomegranate greek yogurt for dessert was nicely pink and matchy-matchy. I really should've gone the extra step and also included red grapes and some pancetta, but my ambitions are limited at 7:45 in the morning.

Did I plan this to match my new, awesome pink shoes? No, but now that I'm on this path, I think I'll have to drink rosé
tonight just for continuity's sake.

Cream nubby capelet, vintage; grey dip-dye tank, Forever 21; black pencil skirt, Benneton; hot-pink shoes with gold piping, Seychelles.


Stop Dressing Like An Undergrad, continued!

I'm a summer intern with a nonprofit theater in Chicago, and all the other summer interns are of the 19-years-old (or thereabouts) variety. Also, the office culture in this organization is very casual- jeans, sandals, and such. I've got to go to work each day and 1) not look like I'm out of my freshman year of undergrad, 2) not look overly fussy in comparison to the regular staff, and 3) not look like I'm living out of suitcases stacked in the living room. This has meant almost no jeans (unless with serious heels and something more interesting than a t-shirt), and lots of skirt/moderately casual dress + low heels combinations.

Today's combination was augmented by a surprise thunderstorm on my way home from work, so I look a bit less than thrilled to be standing in wet shoes here.

Dress, Kara Janx; magenta tanktop for office propriety, Esprit; black heels, Urban Outfitters; tangerine manicure to up the 80's factor with the neon green trim on the dress and the magenta tanktop.


About a year ago, I bought a dress from Outlets Online.net. (aka outlet-online.net, outletsonline.net, outlets-online.net... which should've been my first tip-off.) The dress is beautiful and lovely and I was very pleased with their stock, so I unwisely sent $140 of my stimulus check to China with the purchase of the yellow high-neck Marc Jacobs dress detailed in the post from May 4th. The dress arrived, yes, but it was the complete wrong size, and so I promptly sent it back for an exchange. I followed all their esoteric rules (claiming "gift, $0 value" on the international shipping form, completing the exchange within three days of receiving the item, etc.) and six weeks later, nothing. No exchanged dress. No refund. No responses to my increasingly angry emails to the company.
Sadly, their payment is not handed via Paypal, so I can't file a complaint there to get a refund.

Consider me to be your cautionary tale: DO NOT BUY THINGS FROM OUTLETS ONLINE.NET. They are bad people who will screw you, and are probably selling knockoffs anyway.

Hautelook and Gilt Groupe are two excellent alternatives, and both are highly reputable.

I mentioned to a friend, currently interning in NYC, that I'm biking to/from work and errands each day. She says "oooh, you're going to come back to school all ripped and skinny from this summer!". Perhaps such a thing would be possible if I'd stop eating nachos for dinner and cake for breakfast. I don't think that my mid-speed biking of <10 miles per day will do much to negate anything covered in melted cheese.



It's hot in Chicago this week. Hella hot. Thankfully, I am currently situated next to a fan on the second-floor sunporch, watching clouds gather to the southeast, and hoping for a gorgeous storm with lots of lightning for my amusement. The sunporch is not entirely private- it's connected to the back of the house by an open staircase- so although I'd very much like to be sitting out here in just my underwear, that would inevitably lead to an awkward encounter with my landlord:
me- "Hey, is the front doorbell working?"
her- "You're... not wearing... clothes."
me- "This is true. So are you getting a new doorbell, then?"

I plan to learn her morning routine so I can schedule a seminude coffee break on the sunporch while minimizing the trauma to both of us. I don't have a hangup with nudity at home, obvs, but I do have a hangup about inadvertently flashing the person to whom I pay rent each month.

When undressing last night, I realized that I'd ripped the back seam of a brand-new skirt. I was going to try to blame this on cheap fabric or shoddy stitching, but looking back a few weeks to the seam-rippage of a very well-constructed DvF dress, I have to conclude that it's my fault. See, my bike has a horizontal brace bar, and I tend not to mount/dismount my bike like a lady. It's more 'swinging legs everywhere and jumping off the bike while still moving to snag that last spot at the bike rack' and less 'be careful of your skirt, dear!'. From now on, I will A: carry an emergency sewing kit with me in my bike-commute bag, B: hike my skirt way up to indecent levels when getting on the bike, or more reasonably, C: pay attention to what I'm doing, especially when wearing nice, new clothes.

Also very nice, and something that could be new for me: I have lately been seized by the need to acquire a long (26" chain or longer) pendant necklace. I must've seen someone wearing one somewhere, because the visual in my head for exactly what I want is hyper-detailed. This etsy seller has something very close:

...but I want something more in the 22.2 mm range, and I'd swap out the chain for something longer. Oooh, and maybe add a milagro charm to it. Perhaps a trip to a bead store is in order to see if I can't make this happen.


no place like home

Hello, there. Yes, it's been a while. Well, see, I've been working this internship, battling Comcast, cursing at Photoshop, and diligently working on transferring the blog over here, post by painstaking post. Oh, except for that last part. In reality, I would've never gotten off my ass to transfer hosts on my own (let alone archives!), so I'm relying on the wonderful tech-savvy assistance of Steve to do all the hard work for me.

To prod me into the move comes the fabulous Femme, who said "six things! go!" and then disappeared into a cloud of perfume and champagne bubbles. So: six things that I never, ever thought I'd do.

1. Eat capers. I hated capers for twenty-five years. Then, last summer, I decided that I was just being silly, because I love salt and capers are often the best, fanciest way to get something salty into a meal. Now, capers and I are inseparable. Especially when there's lemon and tuna involved.

2. Enjoy a roller-coaster. I don't know what clicked with me, but now I cannot get enough upside-down, massive g-force, loop-the-loop, rickety track action. The Haunted Mine at Dollywood was well worth going through the long, slow line three times.

3. Go to bed before midnight. However, my wish to stay up late does not mesh with my need to get nine hours of sleep per night AND my need to be awake and de-zombified before 7 am, so 10 pm bedtime it (sometimes) is.

4. Ever be an organized person. Really. I was a total slob growing up, and if you'd seen me, sprawled across the floor of my high-school-years bedroom, doing homework while lying across piles of paper because both the bed and the desk were already covered in piles of books and crafty projects and assorted crap, you'd be shocked to see that I became a completely organized, "everything in its place" kind of person. It killed me a little to admit it, but yes, it's so much better when I can immediately pinpoint where my keys are rather than having to scrounge under the pillow, inside my shoes, et al., to find them.

5. Want to read and compare tax filings. Oh, the joys of the publicly-available Form 990 for 501(c)3 nonprofits. Why do I find this entertaining and interesting? Because I can learn all your dirty little secrets from your tax forms, you poorly-managed nonprofits.

6. Pay more than $150 for any article of clothing. Ouch. I still don't like doing it, but I remember when saving up my part-time job paychecks to pay $120 for a pair of Doc Martens seemed the limit in expensive exhibitionism. Oh, how na
ïve I was.

Edited to add: hell, I forgot to force others to do the same little "six little quirks about you" thing. So: Truth of Ruth, Pocket Fox, Breaking Blues, Shannikins/Hallowedding, The Ministry of Hip, and Daddy Likey. Six things, go!


Tuesday July 1, 2008

Finally.  I'm allowed back online to rejoin humanity.

Actually, I did get wifi back on Friday night, but coupled with working late, dinner plans, and the imminent arrival of my parents for a three-day weekend in Chicago, I wasn't able to devote myself properly to caressing the internet upon my return.  I'm sorry, internets.  Will you forgive my negligence of our relationship?  I can change, I promise!

Ahem.  Anyway.

My parents, being good midwestern types like myself, are practical.  However, as they live in a town where walking to the grocery store, or to Target, or to anywhere further than one's mailbox is seen as something that only eccentric hippies without cars do, they generally consider any occasion to walk about an Exercise Occasion.  They prepare for such an excursion with sturdy tennis shoes and sunscreen.  I'm completely supportive of the sunscreen (I'm slathered in SPF 55+ over all my limbs from April-October if I'm stepping outside the house, and SPF 15 on my face daily is nonnegotiable), but I tend to differ with them on the tennis shoes.  Unless I am running at a clip of more than 6 mph, I leave tennis shoes alone.  My mother, bless her practical heart, commented on my lovely low-heeled vintage Mary Janes by saying that I was "so dressed up".  Well, those Mary Janes stood up through a leisurely walk around Hyde Park and hours of museum meandering with nary a blister or rub on my foot.
On Monday, I thought "oh, the hell with it- sneakers it is!" and put on a pair of well-broken-in trainers.  Those shoes managed to make my right heel bleed from 5 pm onward, and my arches hurt like hell at the end of the day. 
I'll stick with my magical heels of fashion and function, Mom, thanks.

Those Mary Janes sustained a casualty prior to our Sunday jaunt around Hyde Park, unfortunately.  While sitting in their hotel lobby with my mother, she noticed that a big gash had mauled the back of my right shoe.  I left them alone for a few days, and then decided that Walgreen's would probably be able to provide a solution in the form of true brown nail polish.
Do you know how damn hard it is to find a true brown nail polish?  They're all either shimmery ("Chocolate Twirl") or burgundy ("Darkest Wine") or flecked through with gold ("Precious Ore").  I finally settled on a bottle that seemed neither opalescent nor red, and gritted my teeth to try out this solution on my shoes.



For $3.99, I think I can declare:  SUCCESS!