My "clothing, clothing everywhere, and not a thing to wear" wails led to me picking out a yawningly typical ensemble to wear out on Friday night.
In my defense, my Friday night plans involved a scavenger hunt with lots and lots of outdoor walking, so potential fantastical ensembles involving dresses and suede shoes were vetoed.

Tie-neck shell, Express; cardigan, Old Navy; jeans, Uniqlo;
doctor's bag, vintage; boots, Aerosoles; cuff watch, Marc Jacobs.

Black, black, skinny jeans, boots. Yes, I am fine with how it looks, but I am mostly itching for spring and the ability to wear my capes in lieu of a parka, and to wear dresses without two layers of tights underneath with a pair of thigh-high thick socks over the tights.

However, I love these boots so hard. Comfy, shiny, able to withstand the slushpiles that line my street, and I'm about 6'1" in them. Merci, Aerosoles. Merci.


from scratch

On starting over:

It's been thirteen years since I've practiced tae kwon do. The last time I took a martial arts class, I was fifteen and a first-degree black belt. I've swung my legs around in some approximations of inside crescent kicks since then, and have never forgotten how to say "sidekick break and elbow strike break, sir" in Korean, but that's all I retained.
All, I suppose, except a desire to go back and try again, and to put my body and my mind through that test again to see... what? To see if I can do it? To see if I'm "good" at it? To see if that wondrous feeling of power and confidence can be picked back up, I think.

I'm starting from nothing on this project. There's a little tiny bit of muscle memory, and the knowledge that yes, one's leg is supposed to hook like so on this particular kick, and not to hook at all on that kick, and there's a specific angle necessary to maximize effectiveness on that, but that's really all. And for someone who really, really likes (needs) to be really, really good at everything I do, this is really fucking hard. It's hard to let my ego go and to accept the knowledge that a classroom full of mirrors is showing my every struggle to a room full of middle-schoolers. (Middle-schoolers, by the way, who are throwing these amazingly powerful spinning roundhouse kicks.) It's hard not to think back to what I was once capable of in tae kwon do practice, and how effortless it seemed so long ago, and not to get frustrated with my current lack of ability.

It's humbling. More than that, it's a devastatingly effective leveler. It's created a peculiar sense of self-awareness in those moments of practice, and I'm learning just to focus on the immediate task at hand (extend your heel, crook your elbow, pivot on your front foot, bring your knee back to center), lest I lose concentration and take a blow to the skull.

Somewhere, there's a photo of me, age fourteen, at the testing for my black belt. As I remember it, in this photo I'm extending a beautiful sidekick through two 1" white pine boards, and I have a look on my face that says I knew this was possible.
I remember that testing, and that break, and I recall that the look on my face didn't match the processes of my brain: my brain was scared, and apprehensive, and wanted to back off. But I shut that part of my brain up and did it anyway.

I'm standing in a classroom of adolescents several days each week, thirteen years later, making every effort to embrace that duality: do it anyway.


before it's made, our money's all been spent

No matter that I haven't actually, ehrm, done my 2009 taxes yet. Or that I might not actually get a refund this year, due to damnable circumstances involving a year-end chunk of freelance income.

No, in my mind, once I finally finish my taxes, I will end up with a refund that will immediately be applied to the purchase of a Clare Vivier bag and pouch. Or maybe several pouches.

I am trying desperately to find some way to frame this is fiscally responsible behavior on my part.


we can get down

This December, when buying the leopard-print lace Rodarte for Target dress, I had a brief moment of practicality. "Where on earth will I wear a leopard-print minidress, really?"
Silly question. You wear such a dress to a festival of Charles Busch plays (Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, anyone?) and dancing at a gay bar, obviously.

Dress, Rodarte for Target; scarf, Target; trench, H&M; bag, Nine West; tights, dunno;
boots, Colin Stuart. Eyeliner smearage courtesty sweaty frantic dancing.

Yes, this dress is short, and somehow the camera picked up on that and created a little blotchy halo as a Modesty Blob on its lens.



Worn for last night's cocktail party:

Drapey dress with pockets, Zara; belt, Target; heels, Seychelles;
peacock bangle, Urban Outfitters; silver cuff, Until There's A Cure.

Probably 85% of choosing this dress for the cocktail party is the fact that it's sort of sack-like and flowy and able to disguise the obscene number of dark chocolate-passionfruit squares I ate.
The other 15% of this dress choice is the pockets, because when my front buzzer is broken and I have to keep running downstairs and through the courtyard to let people in, I'm just going to keep my keys on my person for the whole night.


yes, it's spelled "jucy"

This is complete blasphemy. The Jucy Lucy is Minneapolis' revered burger (Matt's Bar, holla!), and my god, it is good.
My version, while good, is (gasp) vegetarian*. Not because I have the audacity to claim that mine is better, but because I'd already eaten all the beef in my house and am too lazy to go to the grocery to pick up some ground chuck. Also, I had slices of sharp cheddar, not american cheese, so yeah, this is going into seriously yuppie territory.

Black Bean Jucy Lucy
1 onion, minced
olive oil
2 cans of black beans, drained (or a couple ladelfulls of cooked black beans, which is what I used)
1 cup of bread crumbs (approximately. I used panko crumbs b/c that's what I had in the cupboard)
a healthy dash of chili powder, or whatever seasonings sound good
cheese of your choice: about 2 oz per burger
burger stuff, duh: buns, mustard, etc.

Sauté the minced onion in a glug of olive oil. While you're doing that, smoosh up the black beans into a chunky paste: I used a pastry mixer for this, but you could use a fork or a food processor. Whatever works! Mix the sautéed the onion, chili powder, and bread crumbs into the black beans. Form into smallish patties and flatten.

Take a chunk of cheese and place it in the center of one flattened patty: I find this works best with a cube-like chunk of cheese, rather than a flat slice. Place another flattened patty on top and form into one cohesive, thick patty of goodness.

If you have a grill, grill it. The black bean patty really does hold together well.
Otherwise, you can bake the black bean burger in the oven (400 degrees) for about 10-15 minutes, and finish it under the broiler or in a lightly oiled pan to get a really good outside crust going on.

If you're a fan of overkill, as I am, top the burger with a slice of cheese. What? A Jucy Lucy is no exercise in moderation.

Makes about 6 burgers, depending on how large you form the patties

*Hell, you could make this vegan if you used nondairy cheese, but let's not go nuts here.

pancake house

(Ask me about last night's Mos Def / MF DOOM show and you will get an earful. Promise.)

My kitchen is a wreck, and there might be a pool of brown butter on the floor, but I am sated and pleased.
I have been thinking about polenta lately, and how absurdly delicious it is. That led to some searching for breakfast polenta options outside the normal poached eggs + polenta + cheese, which led to the polenta pancakes recipe from the Times. (I think this would be even better as waffles, but I was not about to procure a wafflemaker.)

I followed the Times recipe, and then topped the pancake stack with a dollop of plain greek yogurt and some slivered almonds that I spiced with chili oil and black pepper. As I ate these, I had a moment of glorious wonder where I asked myself "why do these taste so freakishly amazing?". I then looked over and saw that I'd bought salted butter, rather than unsalted, and that about half a stick of salted butter had been used to make my breakfast.

Yeah, that's why they were so good.


american girl

Worn last night for a date to see American Buffalo at Steppenwolf with Ruth (and her kick-ass motorcycle boots, which I should take a photo of):

Dress, vintage (Edith Machinist in NYC); satin-trim cardigan, Old Navy; belt, J Crew;
brooch, vintage; clutch, Matt & Nat; cowboy boots, vintage via my mom's closet.

I once had a fabulous boss (hi, Stacey!) who would choose her ensemble for opening-night parties at the art museum to reflect the art in some subtle way. It could be via color, or texture, or a layering of embroidery, but there was always some thematic tie-in between the exhibition and her outfit.
I wasn't consciously thinking of that last night as I got dressed for the theater (it was more like "hm, I can't wear suede shoes in the snow, and I should definitely leave room for post-show snacks in the dress"), but a little bit of Mamet made its way into this outfit. I wouldn't generally describe Mamet as "twisted" (that high praise I leave for Martin McDonagh), but he does have a little bit of pleasant warping (see: Oleanna). Thus: the asymmetrical buttoning of the cardigan. And it's a cheap link for sure, but the "Americana" bit of the theme is handily taken care of through cowboy boots. Plus, on a non-thematic note, the very visible salt stains on these boots are proof that they have become my go-to winter footwear when I cannot deal with snowboots for one more day.


danger high voltage

Snowverload? What snowverload?
(voicemail from my mother this morning: "I thought you'd be working from home. I can't imagine how you got to work with 18" of snow on the ground in Chicago!")

When there is a big ol' showing of vintage Chanel and YSL jewelry in a gorgeously out-of-my-price-range midcentury furniture store, I will fight my way through a blizzard to attend. Oooh, and free champagne. And the opportunity to try on a jawdroppingly gorgeous four-strand pearl choker with the most beautiful tooled clasp known to man... swoon.
Never mind the $2,300 price tag: if I just have another glass (or four) of champagne, I'll distract myself, right? Right?

Cashmere crew-neck, Gene Meyer; rose-gold brocade skirt, J Crew; boring black
tights to stave off the cold; boots, Bandolino; watch, Nine West; bag, vintage.

My gawd, but it's dangerous for me to be allowed to pet so many pretty, pretty pieces of jewelry. Oh, to someday be ridiculously rich and to have the ability to drop four figures on a necklace. Ha.


head over heels


I really, really need this to augment my collection of disembodied heads.


get on the good foot

This was possibly the most satisfying Home Improvement project ever, guys. For three years now, I've been fantasizing about creating a shoe storage system that doesn't involve boots being shoved into the corner of a closet, and lone heels being found under the couch. After this summer's temporary apartment and its built-in wall of shelves, I was on a mission build it better than it was before: we have the technology. ("Technology", in this case, being a laser level and a cordless drill.)

First, the Before. This was just sad:


And then Ruth and Tim came over last night, heeding my plea for slave labor, and were polite enough not to verbally express their suspicion that I was crazy. Note: if you're installing the big fucking Ikea Lack shelves- the ones that are taller than I am- you do not want to do this solo. Trust me on this. Bribe a friend or two to help you out, or you will want to die.

Now, the glorious After. A place for everything, and everything in its place, and bonus: that place is relatively free of cat hair. Behold!


Is it more than a little Conspicuous Consumption to have shoe shelves as a main feature of my bedroom? Definitely. But I don't care.

(Ruth and Tim are facilitating my apartment decor, one big favor at a time. First the loan of Ruth's antique Singer to make pillows for my couch, and now their readiness with a drill and a hammer: I feel like I should just hire them both as project contractors. My friends are the best, especially when they prevent me from maiming myself with power tools.)