Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mary Kate and Ashley

As my friends know, I'm a little obsessed with these girls. When they first started at NYU, they had a class just down the hallway from my office. Everybody saw them and reported back that they were sweet, beautiful and tiny--ethereal beings. My friend Anna and I had initially confided our Olsen fascination in each other about two years prior to that, at a Feminism and TV conference. We agreed to meet outside their seminar room as their recitation for the Language of Film class was getting out, pretend to peruse a noticeboard, and get a look at the girls.

Of course, they were skipping class--something I later read about in US Weekly. And they skipped the next week too. I don't think they ever returned to the sixth floor of 721 Broadway. I missed them, the most egregiously when they sat outside my office during my office hour just outside my sightline. The grad student in the next office came by excitedly after I left--assuming I had seen them. Of course I had not.

Yesterday they were signing their Inspiration book at Barnes and Noble. I considered going--I assumed it was an evening event and I teach at 9 am so I wasn't sure I could fit it in. Evan thought I should reconsider, but I then discovered it wasn't a reading--as initially advertised--but a signing with a crazy list of 9 rules, including obligatory purchase of the book. As that $30 will be put towards sales tax on a Mayle purchase, I passed.

I'm still dreaming--literally dreaming--of Mayle's holiday collection. I've obsessed over certain dresses in the past--the black jeweled dress from holiday '07, Margarita and Mariya from fall '07, Lilly from Summer '08 and a blue dress whose name escapes me from spring '07. Rarely has there been a Mayle dress I lost--and I have always waited for the sales. Whether it is the beauty of this collection or the knowledge it will be among her last, I'm seriously considering stumping out full price for a couple of these items. The last time I did that was for a pair of her chambray blue clogs (fall '06, I believe) from her last season of shoes. Those sold out in my size the day they came in--I was called, went, purchased (with Chris in tow, as always seems to be the case with really big purchases). Those were $440, and the economy was better. I'm hoping that I don't have to do that with her holiday line--after all, there is also resort, and I want to get as much Mayle as I can while it is still available, including those old pieces that slipped through that may occasionally appear on ebay.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mayle Holiday Collection

I just got the mail that the Mayle look-book for the holiday collection is up online. Lots of black and off-white again, with persimmon. It is so lovely. I am so hoping I can get the persimmon blouse, dress and at least two other dresses. Why oh why is she going out of business and can my bank account withstand the onslaught of my final Mayle purchases? I daren't even look at the clothes because I want so many of them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I've just had a whirlwind week. Besides the large pile of midterms, the book editing and the job applications that I have to get in the mail this week, I went to North Carolina to give a talk at my friend Amanda's university. Last Friday I flew out, and returned at the crack of dawn on Tuesday, taught my three classes yesterday and now have to do the bulk of the week's work today.

It was great to get out of town nonetheless. I love NYC and would hate to live elsewhere but a change was nearly as good as a rest. Amanda has an enormous and beautiful house and a lovely family, including a beautiful two year old daughter, so it was a radical change of pace. I got a fair amount of work done, worked out Sunday, and came back hopefully ready to finish all the work at hand.

All this has meant no shopping. I went into Bird on the way home from JFK and the Mayle coat I love fits me in a 6, so a 6, 8, or even 10 will work if and when it goes on sale. This is a frustrating time of the year. The weather has turned so the fall clothes can be worn now, but they are not yet reduced. I'm just hoping that the credit crunch lets me get the Mayle I want for at least 60% off as I can't afford it at full price. If only it wasn't the last season--I suspect many other customers feel the same as me and I dread the rush and adrenaline that marks the sale period. I was a good girl and resisted the 40% off Mayle pre-fall last week. Even though I want the blue Ebba dress, I'm going to wait until it is 60% off or more or skip it entirely.

Above photo courtesy of Nicholas Thigpen, staff photographer of the East Carolinan--my friend Amanda is on the left, I'm on the right looking pensive in Mayle's Pina dress (resort '08) and a gap cardigan.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I have been trying to save, not because of the economy, but because there are things I want to do in life that may involve big expenditures: having children, buying an apartment. If I do the former (which I hope I do, and I hope it will be soon), I want to be able to work, but not feel that I have to take on every talk or every opportunity to bring in just a few more dollars. Work is erratic here, and I want something more stable--but things are not looking great. None of this has anything to do with the economy. Rather, it is related to those fads that grab academia and place certain areas on a pedestal at the expense of everything else, including ability. In my area, new media and Asian film/TV are the fetishes. The fact that few scholars work in these areas and maybe few students want to study them is irrelevant. Deans want these areas and they aren't specialties of mine, so like many others, I am up against this crazy wall.

Of course, this would happen at the same time as Jane Mayle's final collection is in stores. I am doing what I did last fall, in the hopes that the results will be the same. I am staying away from her boutique while monitoring sales of her clothing online. One pet rant--and somewhat irrelevant point here--is that online boutiques--like Jake, LaGarconne, Totokaelo, Hush--all resolutely refuse to stock over size 8 (at least online), so even when they have deals, they are in sizes that my 5' 10" frame would only fit if my bones were surgically removed. Eluxury and Net-a-Porter are the exceptions, but the latter has no current Mayle and refuses to reduce year old stock to a price point that would make me buy.

Returning to my point, my favorite items at Eluxury are still available, save one coat that I hoped had my name on it, so I am hoping for a good score at Mayle this winter. It's the end so I will go into savings if necessary. But after that, I feel that it will be a lean period for me. Time to return to my closet, to scour for those last sale pieces of Mayle and to hunker up for the lean period that follows. Although I hope, in my case, to be in a situation that leaves my body far from lean.

I'm actually really good at not spending money. Oatmeal, eggs, cheap fruit, beans, tortillas and rice can feed me well, while other than clothing, I have no major extravagance (of course, if I add up what I spent there, I'd be horrified). I don't need or want the cabs, spa treatments, alcohol that consume so many New Yorkers' budgets and I bring my own lunches and make coffee at home. Evan is the same. We're not so much cheap as we just don't want to waste money--we were both raised that way. There is actually something perversely easy about living on a tight budget--it's the middle range that kills me because then I do splurge. This way isn't always fun, but I can do it for a while. Especially if it brings me something greater, like a child.

Maybe it's the fall weather, but I feel right now that there are more important things in life than shopping/fashion. Family, hopefully babies, friends, pets, and finishing the book. I think the recent years have taught me a lesson in attitude adjustment. And with my dear Peeps mewling and crawling on my lap, it is time to return to writing while hugging a particularly fine and soft kitten (pictured above).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Madonna and more Stereolab

It has certainly been a crazy week for concerts. Madonna made it three in less than ten days--all the more dizzying when combined with the cold/flu virus that knocked me down for the week. After window-shopping with Chris on Saturday (I avoided all my haunts as I don't want to be tempted), we made our way to MSG where we had surprisingly amazing seats. Even though we got the cheapest tickets possible, we were near the front--just four flights up--and were right by stage left.

The concert was great--the company even better--although too many new songs and unimaginative greatest hits (interestingly this would be similar to my sole complaint about Stereolab, although Chemical Chords is infinitely better than Madonna's new album). For 50, she is amazing--jumping rope, dancing in her barely there leotard. Hell, for 20, she'd be in great shape. All in all, a great night, but not transcendent like Stereolab (who were not as transcendent either as they were when I saw them in 2000 in Pittsburgh, but I digress).

Whenever I see Stereolab, I love them more. I listen to them constantly and want to find new music. When you've been a huge fan of a band--as I have with them--since 1992-3, there isn't much new to find. I've lost a few items--the Turn On side project, for instance, and a couple of 7 inch singles, but I really got to a point when I thought that was it. Then last night, Evan presented me with the Japanese edition of Chemical Chords--the three extra tracks are among their best. So I had those, the tour 7 inch I got last week. And then I decided to search myself, only to find the 1999 The Underground is Coming ep. Not only do I have more Stereolab, but it is incredibly good--and it features Mary Hansen (RIP) and comes from to my mind, their greatest period--the Dots and Loops/Cobra/Microbe Hunters Chicago-era. I doubt I'll ever find this much of their stuff that I didn't previously own again, at least without a new album/compliation release.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Weekend with Chris

So I may have a cold, but it is getting better. And tonight, my dear friend Chris comes in from Dallas. We are going to see Madonna tomorrow--it has become one of our rituals--along with eating at Eatery on 9th Avenue, shopping (for him) at Macys, although I will pick up tights in bright colors, and generally gossiping about Project Runway, Posh Spice, clothes and life while giggling like best girlfriends as we go.

We went to see the Spice Girls together in New Jersey in February and had a blast. Other great memories include buying Mayle shoes the day they came into the shop with Chris advising me on the color and him throwing a pair of my shoes away after telling me how much he hated them (they were worn out beyond repair). If I go anywhere near Mayle with him this time, I know my bank account will take a hit, so best to avoid it and shop there when he comes into town during the winter sales.

Whatever happens, it will be great fun. Any time with a friend as dear as Chris is always to be cherished.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Heimstone dress

So I have spent too much this month. That I know--there's a credit card bill I have to open and I know I charged about $1,000 (I pay them off in full, but that is a large chunk of change). I just got two shirts from Steven Alan's outlet--a hair under $200 for the two. Then there's the packages from the Gap, the baby clothes for Charlie, cardigans for me, and Giles' Christmas present. I also got that Mayle dress from Ebay. And I am supposed to be saving for fertility treatments, accupuncture, even IVF. I want a baby more than all my clothes. Yet I've been shopping like crazy because I still love clothes and because I want to fill this hole where a baby should be.

Even then, I am tempted by this Heimstone dress. It's in an LA boutique, it's in navy blue and it is beautiful. It's on sale, but it is still over $200 which is a lot for a dress I've never seen at a time when I am supposed to be economizing and when I want to get some of the last Mayle pieces.

What to do? Maybe disable the internet or at least stop surfing clothing sites while I watch TV.

I have a horrid cold now but at least most of my grading is finished.


As I write my book, I keep coming across reminders about just how much of my life I've spent on this--and how fast time flies. Yesterday I found vet bills from 1996 filed in with old photocopies from the Moving Picture World (1916-7), and was shocked to find Peeps was a mere 4 lbs when she was a year old cat. Now she's a robust 13.1 lbs. I'd assumed she'd reached her full size by her first birthday. Then I looked at the date for some files I was using--May 2000. I could have sworn it wasn't 8 years ago.

So finishing is going to be good. But there's the echoes of those older drafts, wasted years and paths not taken. I think this is why people write fast. And of course I keep thinking that I should have been trying to have babies then--had that happened, I would have been able to conceive with greater ease. It's the topic I go back to at all times. Let's hope finishing the book can coincide with the start of a new life. It would be a perfect coda to finish a far from perfect, if too ambitious book, with a perfect baby, all Evan's and my own. For that I work, pray and try to keep memories of a more fertile but very single state out of my head.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Back to the Grind

With school out for the Jewish holidays, last week seemed full of promise. I was planning to work hard, see Stereolab, and work my way down my list of things to do. As it turned out, Remy was sick, Evan was stressed and the big scary unknowns in my life loomed larger than ever. Capping the stress of last week, a job was advertised at NYU, in the department of my dreams. Having worked there with some success, I had always hoped that the next job to be posted would be something in my area. I was therefore stunned to see that there was a job--nobody in the department had mentioned that this was even in the pipeline--and that it was not really in my area. Dream 1 crashed. I have also been trying to get pregnant for some time and this month it was clear something was not right. So my other big dream seems to be collapsing around me.

So, rather than crush myself under all of this, I decided to work on the book as that is all I can control. I thought that the chapter I was going to rewrite needed minimal work. I was wrong. That said, I think I can see how to pull it together.

So the vow for this week is to stay centered on the book. I am going to try to keep jobs and babies out of my mind (not so easy, granted. I have to go into work and babies are alas everywhere--that is, everywhere except in my life).

Sunday, October 5, 2008


One of my favorite bands, Stereolab, was in town this weekend. I'd planned to go with my friend Amy and finally made it to Irving Plaza to get tickets on Thursday lunchtime. I'd had some bad subway delays so I made it to the box office a little later than I'd hoped--and was a bit annoyed about that--but I was rewarded by the sight of Tim Gane exiting a tour bus, followed by Andy Ramsey, Joe Watson and some roadies carrying in equipment. I was super exited already, and then I saw Laeticia Sadier, who was taller than I'd thought (I estimate she was at least 5' 10'' like me) and unbelievably beautiful in the flesh. As I stood in line to buy tickets I hoped I hadn't blown it and waited for too long. I had to have been staring at her.

Inspired by seeing the band unpacking, I got tickets for both Thursday and Saturday (I would have gone for Friday night too but Evan and I had plans). As I left, I saw Laeticia one more. This time, she stopped, looking at me quizzically in case she knew me. I called her by name, she responded and I told her I was a fan. That I had everything by Stereolab, offering my ipod as some feeble proof. I told her she was beautiful (actually, I think I said that twice), that I knew a friend of Simon's and had been backstage when they last played NYC at Town Hall. I blabbered. I wasn't the professor who had to go home and grade, finish writing her book and take care of work. I was a fan who had lost control of language. She was graceful, sweet and kind. She stood and listened to me as though I was saying something worthwhile. She never tried to rush away to continue setting up (hell, they were busy). I think she even suggested I come over and speak to Simon but, like I said, my brain wasn't working.

The shows were great, even though the sound mix was off at times (not their fault and I've read Irving Plaza has terrible sound). I was near the front on Thursday and near the middle on Saturday. I'd have liked them to play longer and didn't agree with all their song choices--could have done without Eye of the Volcano and would love to have heard more from Cobra and Dots and Loops, for instance. And I cherish it--and them--all the more for being such nice people.

I hope they carry on touring and recording for a long, long time. They are the soundtrack to most of my life. It's scary that it is 14 years ago I cycled to the CD store on Shepherd just south of Alabama (in dear Houston, TX) in 90+degree heat to pick up Emperor Tomato Ketchup and sat with my kittens listening to the new Mars Audiac Quintet. Or that I went into Earwax in Chicago 11 years ago to get my Dots and Loops LP on white and green vinyl. Or that I picked up Transient Noise Bursts With Announcements over a decade ago from a record store on Portobello Road. And it was 14 years ago I saw them for the first time at Lollapallooza in Dallas on a day that started off blisteringly hot and saw torrential rain--fortunately after Stereolab's set--that soaked me to the ski (like everyone else), so much so that I put on my new glow in the dark Stereolab T shirt to keep warm. They were a second stage band and the reason I went. I don't see how those years can have passed so fast. But their music still sounds as great as ever.

Other than that, it was the week of the sick cat, or rather, week 2. Remy is now eating but she has a new oesophagal tube for supplemental feeding and drugs. Alas, it appears blocked and that means yet another visit to the Animal Medical Center. Poor Evan is massively stressed out over this. Hopefully she will recover soon.