Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Perfect Gift

December has been a particularly crappy month and the last week or so has been exquisitely bad. So this morning I was very pleased when the postie delivered this surprise gift from England. It was, indeed, the perfect gift for the girl who couldn't get home for Christmas and her Christmas Viz Annual and Cadbury's selection box (the part of my gift that Giles gets me every year to the same rapturous reception). I'm looking forward to ploughing through this one. There is nothing like a good laugh and Viz gets me (practically) every time. By the way, the contents aren't scatalogical, just the cover. Instead it's full of delightful parodies of British tabloid journalism along with lots of retro 1970s-80s bad British pop culture references. It's not as good as going home but it takes away some of the pain.


Meanwhile, this beauty is awaiting me at home, in Giles and Carol's cupboards. We're having a Christmas redo sometime this spring/summer, complete with crackers and presents (including the Viz annual below).


Christmas Sales

I tried not to indulge in Christmas sale shopping but a couple of things made it difficult. The first one was the anthro sale but all I got there was the APC quilt and a couple of pairs of black wooly tights that were a mere $7.50 each. The other problem was that when I feel sad, I shop. And having gone through a ton of things last week that wrecked Christmas for me (one of my favourite times of year) and kept me apart from my family and my home, my resolve wasn't at its best. It could have been worse, I guess. I spent my Gilt Group credit on a black Phillip Lim dress and went mad in Club Monaco, not Barneys. That choice in itself limited me--there was far less I wanted and it was all far cheaper, especially as there was a 40% off sale on all reduced items. I got a thick v-neck boyfriend cashmere cardigan in a light tan color ($119), a black cashmere crewneck sweater ($74) and a cream cotton lace skirt for $41. With my striped J Crew bateau shirt and black tights, I have some new great wearable options. I know I got my money's worth but I'm just hoping I have no more major crises and set backs ahead in 2012, particularly three that land in my lap in one 24 hour period, as I cannot afford to spend like this right now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daphne Guinness at FIT

In the midst of the rain, I walked over to FIT after acupuncture to meet Emilie, who had suggested we catch the Daphne Guinness exhibit. She was the perfect partner and we spent a happy hour looking at the formerly unseen McQueens and Chanel haute couture, Givenchy, Gareth Pugh, Alaia and assorted others. It was a pretty engaging exhibit, beautifully staged (six stages showcasing various themes--armor, exoticism, sparkle, chic, etc). One immediate thought--Guinness is skinny--she's 5' 8" but her thighs are the barely bigger than my arms. There has to be some major discipline involved as well as some fortunate genetics to stay that thin after 40, but there is no way someone bigger than sample size could wear some of those McQueen catsuits.



My favourite looks from the exhibit were some of the McQueens and, surprisingly, some of the Chanels (one black and gold beaded Chanel minidress was a standout, as was a black bias cut gown with beautiful rhinestone trim on the back and train). Possibly the most beautiful piece was the diaphanous ivory McQueen empire waist dress above that I thought would make a perfect wedding dress. Some of the most eyecatching work was also McQueen's (a black feathered cape over a gold rhinestone catsuit, some beautiful black dresses and, of course, the suiting).



But the strangest part was just how few extreme garments or looks were presented. One section of little black and little white (and gray) dresses had some nice looks but several pieces were very "ladies who lunch," including little suits that were conservative and minimally interesting. Her accessories were pretty incredible--as were the shoes, most of them heel-less, and all of them insanely high. Certainly, there was a clear presentation of her style, as well as some beautiful clothes, but I would have liked more detail on the garments and their narrative. That said, it was nice to see these clothes in a beautiful setting on a quiet afternoon where you could actually look at the garments without crowds. It's certainly an exhibit that you have to look at more than once--to see the clothes individually and in the context of their staging. And then go back one more time to see your favourite pieces once more.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Boxing Day

Remy hopes you enjoy the day as much as she does. This is evidently a particularly fine box.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas from all of us. The cats dressed up in their festive clothing (Peeps being the sole kitty to do so willingly, even happily, as you can see). As you can see, it's a struggle for Blue but they want to extend their seasons greetings.








I want to thank all my wonderful friends, near and far for being such wonderful people. I wish I was home with family but am looking forward to seeing Alyssa later. In the meantime, listening to Rufus Wainwright, playing with my iPad (hello instagrams above) and eating Godiva chocolates.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Breaking from my miserable mood

(And apologies for alluding to my personal disaster/crisis on this blog), I wanted to share the following link. I didn't have much time for Matt Damon at one point--a not so pretty pretty boy, he just seemed a little smug. Then I saw The Talented Mr. Ripley and admitted that, yes, there was acting talent there even if his looks left me cold. Then I saw him on TV (on Bill Maher, most likely) talking politics and he seemed pretty smart.

Flashing back to the last election, I was not happy at the selection of Obama. People thought I was crazy but something bothered me. I have a pretty good set of gut political instincts and an even better sense of how the public will respond to candidates (even if I don't agree), but something bothered me. Not as left wing as I would have liked for sure, but more that I sensed something ineffectual, naive and even a tad self-seeking. Hilary Clinton seemed a better option as she was the kind of battle hardened yet not cynical survivor who I felt had the better political instincts once in office--the kind of figure who'd end up surprising everybody and a person that would get things done. Granted, I'd have preferred entirely different options but they weren't available or were squandered (John Edwards). Now all this is old news and I feel vindicated if not happy with the way these events played out.

Which was why I was pleased to see this interview with Matt Damon today where he expressed similar thoughts. OK, it doesn't change anything but in a world where I feel more politically cynical than at any other time, it's good to know that I'm not alone.

Tough Day

Today was one of those days that I don't want to experience again. Suffice to say, a lot of tears, lost hopes and frustration were not what I wanted at this time of year. Going through this in the run-up to Christmas when I still haven't finished grading makes things even worse. If I had received my A.P.C. quilt today, I would have wrapped myself up in it and hibernated.

I had bad news about my health insurance yesterday that puts me in a quandry. The one I currently have is ending sooner than I thought and I have to decide whether to opt for very expensive COBRA or switch to a less desirable one that my doctors don't accept and find new physicians. None of it bodes well, alas.

I didn't get anything at the Mayle Gilt sale either. While I liked the black lace dress, it sold out in my size and given my health insurance woes, I probably shouldn't be shopping anyway.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shopping Season

While I've been good recently, the sales have tempted me a little more of late, especially in terms of stocking up on shampoo/conditioner/shower gel/moisturiser and domestic items. While I am primarily interested in saving, a couple of investment buys had me loosening the purse strings for a few items of clothing. Yesterday I noticed that J. Crew's purple Hutton pants had gone on sale (surprising me as these were a collection item that just came in). I had tried them on and surprisingly the 6 fit best but at $249, there was no way I could get them. Reduced to $159 with 30% off they came in at around $120 with NYC sales tax but, of course, they were out in my size. The incredibly nice J. Crew sales associate at the Flatiron store called around for me and found none left in NYC, then put me on the red phone to search for a pair. I received an email today stating that the pants were found and on their way to me. Some of you may remember them from my post coveting them from the J. Crew 2011 fall preview--funnily then I liked them but not as much as the Teddy dress which I found very underwhelming. I also forgot how much I need pants in the winter, more on this point below.



I'd not normally splurge but I feel the cold badly which means I live in pants Jan-early March. I also own about two pairs of wide leg pants and two or three narrow leg pairs, which are usually less warm. These are slimming (I'm hoping it wasn't just the mirror) and warm and make a bit of a change from my black and dark tweed winter stalwarts that I've owned for several years now: the black are Stella McCartney for H&M and they are amazing and the tweed are Kulson, a short lived label that went out of business around 2005-6--so you can see that these are needed (says the girl who is trying to justify her expenditure). Both are in good shape but hopefully these will keep them in decent knick for a little longer. With the right blouse, they have a 40s feel. Without it, they'll keep me warm. I just hope the 6 wasn't mismarked and that they do fit as well as I remember!

Quilts

With the amount of grading I have to do--I am in school today for a Gallatin colloquium--and the final appearance of cold weather outside it's not surprising that my thoughts turned to staying in bed. Or, more specifically, they turned to these A.P.C./Anthropologie quilts after I saw them on Joyce's blog recently. At nearly $600 with tax, they remained abstract objects of desire, when reduced to $150 I seriously considered getting one but at this time of year, even finding the time to get online and type out out my credit card info is sometimes not so easy. So when I saw that they were down to $75 (with the anthro 50% off sale on reduced items), I pounced and this beauty is in the mail right now (the corner lightness is a problem with the download, not the quilt).


I was torn between the one I ordered and the flying geese (below), but Evan preferred the former and we both thought it would be less likely to show cat fur than the other.



If I had a house, I would have bought both, but when you live in a one-bedroom apartment with limited storage you can't just jump on every bargain.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sad

I've been going to this amazing yoga, pilates, zumba and dance studio for 20 months now. The owner is incredible and holds events for charity, regularly donates money from one class a week to community causes, holds toy, coat and food drives as well as running a beautiful studio with a great slate of classes taught by first-rate instructors. While I haven't met the weight-loss goals that initially attracted me to the studio, I've learned a lot and realized I am actually good at pilates and somewhat better than mediocre at some of the other offerings. The studio is only two and half blocks from my house so it's a ten minute walk tops from our front door to their front desk.

The owner had already confided in me that the landlord was shifty--and that she had recently discovered that he did not have the correct occupancy permits for the premises. Even though the space had previously been a dance studio (and another dance studio before that), it was actually certified as office space. While she had the correct insurance, ran the business openly and in accordance with all the laws, it turns out that this paperwork threatened to put her out of business. The fault was the landlord's--and yet he didn't want to pay the tens of thousands of dollars to change the permits lest he wanted, at some point, to rent the premises as offices. The space was already laid out as a yoga studio when she moved in but she had spent a great deal of money on renovations, permits and the like, but all for nothing. Last night, I received an email announcing the studio's closure on December 30.

I'm sad and angry at the injustice. She set up a business that employed people locally, forged community, helped all of us improve our health, and donated to charity. She struggled for at least one bad year (many times in the summer of 2010 I enjoyed private lessons as nobody else turned up for classes) and finally reached a point where classes were full and new members kept joining the studio. The number and variety of classes expanded--today, for example, I'm heading off to Bollywood and pilates, and maybe restorative yoga--exposing clients to new things. I'm also upset because I was looking forward to taking more classes after this semester and getting back on track with my fitness, something that I couldn't do over the last few months because I was teaching so many nights. My membership expires late April and the fact that the studio is so close means I'd have braved snow and ice to get to classes, but now it will be a lot more of an effort as there really is very little else in the neighborhood--other options involve subways and a far longer walk, which makes a one hour class nearer three hours which, in turn, makes it less doable when I'm crunched for time. As for evening classes, I'm teaching nights and afternoons next semester and nothing will be open after I finish work. I've looked for alternatives but there really isn't much out there in reasonable distance (nothing at all that's walkable) and all of them just pale in comparison to the studio I'm about to lose.

So today will be a sad day--my last Sunday at the studio and likely my last weekend classes ever. I'll miss the space, the people, the instructors and I am so angry that a vital business is having to close because of another rule-dismissing, self-seeking, slimebag NYC landlord. I know people mocked the "the rent's too high" guy's platform, but really, it is. High rents and the corruption that's rife among powerful landlords that the authorities ignore hurts so many--and several people now will be out of work this Christmas and another small business shuttered, at great cost to its owner and its willing and ever-expanding slate of clients. And the one person not hurt by this is the one at fault--the landlord. I hope karma catches up with him but I'm pretty convinced that that will not be the case.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

End of the Semester

Amidst all the madness I've little time to write. But I want to put on record how much I like my students, their passion for the material and their warmth makes the job all worthwhile--even during the most insane and sleep deprived weeks, like the last two and the next one.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge was a pioneer of pre-cinema who was involved in motion studies through early serial photography. As a scholar of early cinema and a fan of early photography and photographic purposes, I couldn't resist this print from Jen Beckman's 20x200, a site offering affordable art. I missed out on an earlier Muybridge issue and was excited when I saw they had a print from one of his cat series today. Alas, all the smaller sizes appeared to be sold out (I'd been at pilates and zumba when the email went out). Miraculously as I was looking at another Muybridge piece, a cat print popped back and is now on the way to me. Here it is--I think it's a very appropriate purchase given our household's love of cats and its three feline inhabitants. Once it arrives I have to frame it and add to our burgeoning feline art gallery...


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Grouponing

Today as a good day for Groupons. My friend Nelson alerted me to a great Pilates deal--20 sessions for $49 at a place that also has the machines (normally $330). We're planning to go together so it should be fun, especially as Pilates is my favourite exercise.

I also redeemed my Body Shop Groupon ($40 for $20). Not just that put they were passing out scratch cards. Mine was for 50% off--and, yes, I could use the Groupon, which meant $80 worth of products of products for $20. Then I got a body butter for $1 which I donated to their women's shelter box. For the record, I got the coconut shampoo, coconut conditioner, coconut shower gel, gel eye mask, cranberry room fragrance defuser, vitamin c moisturizer with SPF 30, coconut hand sanitizer and the rainforest shampoo/conditioner travel pack. Pretty amazing for $28.

I need not buy toiletries until sometime late in 2012 as my Tobi order arrived tonight. I now have a veritable organic and natural product drugstore piled into closets. Lots of Panagea Organics, Red Flower, Korres, pure Fiji and Hamadi to seems through the year.

What?!

This is more a work related post. I was just doing my weekly scan of TCM and next week is insanely good. Lots of premieres, including Page of Madness and, most unbelievably, Stanley Kubrick's Fear and Desire, a film that is not too good but has been out of circulation for decades, it's on next Wednesday, December 14 at 8 p.m. Set your DVRs...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Instagrams

I don't own an iPhone but admired this app from afar, particularly after seeing some of Brittan's pictures. Now I have an iPad, I've got the app, and here are some of my early efforts--unsurprisingly pictures of my cats.

Here's one of Peeps. Isn't she a sweetie?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Great Gift

On Black Friday, I went to the Natick Mall just outside Boston with Evan's sister and his nephew and nieces. It's always fun to hang out with them and, as usual, Jesse had me in stitches and the girls and I bonded and laughed. We headed to the Apple store as Jesse was buying a MacBook Pro with some of his Bar Mitzvah money from a few years back. Apple had a rare sale and Evan bought me a combined birthday/Christmas present of an iPad 2. In one of my few spare moments this week, I'm playing with it now, downloading apps and even blogging. While I am not yet used to the keyboard it is a remarkable gadget--and one that will even allow me to take relatively low-res pictures and upload them straight to this blog rather than looking forever for my camera cord. And on that note, I'm going to download the instagram app right now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gift cards--a cautionary tale

Evan's mother and stepfather are wonderful and generous people. Two birthdays ago, they asked me what I wanted for a gift and, as usual, I went blank. I did know that I'd want more Rachel Comey dresses and Surface to Air shoes so I opted for a gift card for an online retailer that sold both, offered free shipping and had a great range of eco moisturisers, shower gels, etc, tobi.com. I figured I'd most likely buy a new pair of Rachel Comey or Surface to Air ankle boots or shoes early in the fall when they offered their 30% discount. I wanted a pair of Mars booties and those were my default option. I'd purchased from the site before, had had good experiences, and knew that if all else failed, I'd find a great dress or top in their sales.

Alas, they stopped stocking both designers. I wondered if it was just a one season thing and thought I'd wait a little longer. After all, they also stocked Opening Ceremony and a few others, so I'd be fine. And maybe they'd see the error of their ways and restock the designers I liked.

But recently the store seems to have completely changed their brand. I noticed a lot of 30% offers on new stock, but then looked further--all were for cheap ($30-60) dresses and the site now charged for shipping items under $150. A closer look at their site revealed that they were clearly selling off the remains of the old stock (and not always at a big discount) and not restocking anything in the contemporary/independent designer brand. Even the Korres, Red Flower, Ren, Panagea Organics and other high end organic or natural brands and the Envirosax were the dregs of old stock. So, with my gift card lying in my in box and a 30% discount on full price merchandise this weekend, I pretty much cleaned them out of shampoos, conditioners, moisturisers and shower gels (a slight exaggeration, perhaps, but I got a lot of stock and many items were the last one). I now have a huge box coming to my house.

I've learned a lesson here. Don't sit on gift cards! The store may close, change its brand (here going vastly downmarket) or reposition itself into something that doesn't offer what you need or want. I thought I was safe given this site's visibility and its history of stocking what I wanted. But after an hour or so filling my shopping cart, I was actually hard pressed to find things I wanted (other than CDG wallets that cost more than on comparable sites). So I ended up with toiletries. I'm not unhappy as the deals were good and I'd have to buy them anyway, but my preferred fragrances and formulations were often sold out. I also don't know where I'll stock everything (and I still have a Body Shop groupon to spend), but I know that I can put the money I've saved on these items into some other trinket, dress or accessory. Had I waited another month or so, I would very likely have ended up with an utterly useless gift card or a lot of cheap lycra/polyester blend clothing...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Wednesday

I'm on a frugality drive but I'm also low on sweaters. So far, this November has been mild but trouble is potentially ahead. So I jumped on the J.Crew 25% off promo and headed to the sale section this morning. The chunky cashmere sweater I want is basically perennially out of stock and much as I covet it (and need it), I know it's unlikely I'll ever own one. But I was pleased to get the grey version of the cashmere crew neck with buttons, having been so pleased with the navy. At $104, the price couldn't be beat.



I also got the heather henna crew neck henley sweater at $114. With these in my closet, I really just need one thick cashmere sweater to beat the cold, although I am sure if there are any great bargains this winter I'll just stock up. I've realized that I can't wear any other fabric because of my allergies to wool and basically I'll live in sweaters now until March-April.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Portraits

After seeing Greasychickenface's original portraits of Turtle and Hector on Erica's blog, I had to order custom paintings of our three cats. Less than a week after I submitted photos, the paintings are done and I'm thrilled with them. At $78 for the three, these can't be beat and will soon be hanging together on our wall. Of course Peeps's colouring makes the challenge all the tougher but she has those patterns down--along with Remy's necklaces and Blue's stoic stare. Here they are:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Flushing

In a break from my mad, mad schedule, we headed off to Flushing last night for dinner at the wonderful Dong Bei restaurant, Fu Run, and a bit of after-dinner shopping at a local Asian mall and J Mart (an Asian supermarket, not the South Park K-Mart).

As usual, dinner was first rate. Dong Bei is a Northern Chinese cuisine unlike most Chinese food found in America. We had what has become our usual selection--green been sheet jelly with red oil (a spicy and wonderful salad of nappa cabbage, noodles, cilantro, peanuts, garlic and the red oil), shredded potatoes with green peppers and garlic (the potatoes are nearly raw and look like vermicelli), triple delight vegetables (a more conventional but still yummy combination of potatoes, eggplant and green peppers in a spicy garlic-laden brown sauce), ma po tofu and a leek and egg pancake. The potatoes and green bean jelly are amazing and sublime--I wish I was eating them now.

After eating, we browsed Asian pop culture stores, beauty products and ephemera, then picked up a few basics--pocky sticks, hot oil, chillis in oil, dan dan noodle sauce. I took pictures of the beautiful packaging that may end up below. And then I went back to continue writing lectures and grading. As a consequence I dreamt about Turkish German relations in post-wall Germany and its cinema but that's another matter for another day--specifically Monday, 12.30-4.30 p.m.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Into the 21st Century

I finally got a smart phone--a low end Android model--but I finally joined the 2010s in technological terms. While I really wanted an iPhone, the cost seemed prohibitive, particularly as I already have an iPod, iPod Touch, MacBook Pro and am on schedule to get an iPad soon. It's clunky in places and I've already sent one illiterate email message, but at least I'll now be able to access Yelp when there is no wifi or pick up emails from hotel rooms without paying for onerous internet access.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh J. Crew, Please Make This In My Size!

I was flicking through jcrew.com tonight while catching up on work emails and saw these beauties. I wish they'd make them for adults--after all, I can't imagine there is that much demand for children's cashmere... I often wish stores would display the same flair and imagination they use for children's clothes for their adult designs. Certainly, I'm way too big to fit into these but if they were in adult sizes, I'd be delighted.




Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Surface to Air

About two years ago, Cindy bought a pair of Surface to Air flats. I had never heard of the brand and almost squealed when I saw her grey flats with multiple straps and rose gold toe caps. Right there, I knew these were the shoes I'd been looking for. A few months later they turned up on sale at Lambs Ear in Seattle and after some discussion and thought (would they fit?) they were mine. They've turned out to be the most comfortable and beloved shoes in my closet. I wish I'd known about the brand earlier as I'd have certainly got a second pair in that style (it is not one that they've remade, more's the pity). I next purchased the classic multiple stripe wedge in black suede, which has been enormously comfortable, especially for a high heeled shoe. Then I got a gladiator flat on ridiculous markdown.

Despite my efforts at frugality, I had to go to the Surface to Air sale last week. Indeed, I was disappointed that I missed other of their sales, particularly given my continuing search for another pair of the buckled flats (for when mine finally give up the ghost) and a pair of the wedges in the leopard print--I curse the decision not to get them and a pair of blue and white oxfords I also missed (both were fall 2009 I believe). I hoped the backstock at the sale would extend that far back but a quick google search disabused me of any hopes in revealing earlier sales.

I couldn't go on the first day because of work (missing out on the $69 cork wedge sandals, alas) but I did get another pair of the strapped buckle wedges in taupe suede with a cork heel for $99 (these ran small and I sized up to 41) and the pair of open wedges in black that I wanted all summer (again $99 and this time I took a 40 as usual, but they were on the big size). The hunt for the other pairs goes on but I am happy. Now to find another pair of ankle boots and a flattish pair of shoes for winter.

Here they are:


Friday, November 4, 2011

Backsliding

I'm trying to be good. Work hard, limit my spending, focus my efforts on the books and not waste time. I'm also trying to eat better. I'm generally pretty good but the spate of fall events--from the Jewish holidays (Evan's mother is such a great baker), a few birthdays, a wedding and Halloween--have all taken their toll. Yesterday I looked at my abdomen and I was appalled. Flab is returning and Christmas is around the corner. I wore some old clothes as part of my Halloween outfit (Dina Lohan) and the silk Jill Stuart top I wore was tight--I remember never wearing it, in part because it was too dressy, in part because it quickly dated (it was part of that 1930s retro from the mid-2000s) and also because it was so big. I bought it on sale and the L was the only remaining size--the S and M both would have worked far better. No longer--if anything it is on the tight side, as in near sausage casing. I'm disgusted with myself but also frustrated. I work out, I try to eat well and I'm even trying to reduce my wheat consumption (hence a spelt scone from Whole Foods the other day that was overly sweet) but I don't feel full unless I eat some carbs. Unless I eat a ridiculously restrictive diet and work out constantly, my body doesn't want to give up this new layer of flab. And I find it tough to concentrate when I'm hungry. But that doesn't mean I splurge on brownies, bagels or fries. I eat apples, hard boiled eggs with a single slice of multigrain sour dough bread (all organic) or a few nuts.

I don't know what's going on. I fear some of it is age--past 25, 30 your body changes. As the nights start to draw in, I think I'm going to have to take some more drastic measures and try some kind of modified Atkins diet (no bacon, meat, fatty foods, but certainly restrict my carbs and fill up on vegetables and select fruits).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snow--and thunder--in October

It was a good job we went to a small Halloween party (or, more correctly, gathering) last night. I dressed up in a blonde fright wig as Dina Lohan, Ben went as my daughter, Lindsay and Evan couldn't find a pink bow tie so he didn't go as Ron Donald from Party Down. The looks we got on the subway were quite interesting, at times scary, but the dressing up was a lot of fun.

Today, however, is a different matter. Snow storms, downed trees, stories about possible power outages and Jackson Heights storm damage on NY1. It's a day to stay in, write and watch Sister Wives episodes for the paper I'm trying to finish up.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Winter/Fall Wardrobe Updates, Part 4: Vintage Print Dress

I've also added a few print dresses in different but simple styles to my closet. Some are from ebay or various blogs/friends, but one is from my Pittsburgh trip.

Other than friends, one of the few things about Pittsburgh I love is Eons vintage clothing store in the Shadyside neighbourhood (on Elsworth Avenue). They don't have a website, alas. It's run by Richard who knows more about vintage clothing than practically anybody and he finds the most amazing pieces. When I was in there last week, there were skirts from the 1880s, beautiful 1950s party dresses, 1940s tea dresses, 1950s/1960s deadstock cotton shirtwaisters and 1920s beaded gowns all in excellent shape. Some pieces are mint, some can't be as fabric does degrade, but everything in Eons is dry cleaned (no aged smell on your dress/coat/blouse/skirt) and in the best possible condition. It's also super-reasonable--I got Jane a beautiful and ornate 1950s frame handbag in Italian leather in mint shape for $30.

Of course, vintage clothing tends to run small, so there was a lot that I just had to look at and reluctantly leave. But I did walk out with a black and pale pink tulip print rayon 1940s dress with incredible buttons that fit me perfectly. Pictures to follow, but, trust me, this 3/4 sleeve beauty was a great find--and just $45.

Winter/Fall Wardrobe Updates, Part 3: The Gap

I realize I'm looking awfully like a mall girl/boring shopper here, but, trust me, this is not the direction in which I'm going.

I've got a lot of non-basic pieces that I love--perhaps too many. Sometimes you need a good but simple skirt or pair of pants so you can wear that interesting blouse or showcase a pair of offbeat shoes. I'm usually good on numbers 1 and 3, but limited on number 2.

I was in the Gap recently to replenish some activewear (I get leggings, tops, sports bras there as they work out well for me and are usually on some kind of promo). While in there, I saw some skinny pants and a box pleated miniskirt (my favourite kind of skirt) and decided they looked interesting. But they weren't on promo and this is the Gap where everything ultimately goes on sale, or can be had with an online/email coupon. I didn't have the time to try them on either so I passed. But the germ of an idea had been set.

Sure enough, over Columbus Day, the Gap had an online and store sale and I received an email. After acupuncture, I tried on the pants and the skirt. Both were surprisingly nice and flattering and, more to the point, they also filled key wardrobe holes. I do have misgivings about the Gap and their labour practices, but I'm also aware that so many of the pricier brands aren't much better. I'll admit to ethical qualms here that remain, but that's a topic for another day.

I got the skirt. It was the same price in stores and online and the immediate gratification element blinded me to the reality of shipping charges that I'd now have to pay on the pants which were substantially cheaper online. It fits well, is lined (even though the fabric is not the best quality, it's not that bad) and has pockets. It would be better if the pleats went all the way round, rather than just the front, but that's what happens when stores try to cut costs. But it's so versatile that I'm happy to have it in my closet. Like crew neck cashmere sweaters, box pleat above the knee skirts aren't that easy to find for some strange reason. Here's the image from their website:


I also decided to get their skinny pants (or really skinny/ultra skinny/whatever) which were just under $30 with the promo. I decided to buy just one pair and swallow shipping (a resolution I'm applying to all stores rather than just buy things I don't need to save shipping--a false economy unless I really want all the items). They fit well and are really flattering. Again, I'd prefer a better fabric as these attract more cat hair than I'd like, but they will be a great supplement to my Rag and Bone pants and make those pair last longer. Here, again, is the website image:


Lesson--don't entirely ignore the Gap. Don't obsess over it either, but look in there occasionally for some wardrobe basics.

Winter/Fall Wardrobe Updates, Part 2: Leggings

I have a three year old niece (who is totally adorable). Like many other little girls her age, she wears leggings under dresses, tunics, skirts and looks stylish, pretty, quirky and warm. She's also ready for any adventures that might come her way--and as she is a very energetic, smart and strong-willed young lady, she has adventures galore.

I've long admired her cohort for the way they wear leggings--as opposed to some adults out there who think that semi-sheer footless tights are pants. I've worn leggings as a tights substitute in cold weather for years (or rather, layered them over tights, then layered socks, boots and dresses/skirts over them), but I stuck to black.

Inspiration for a change came from a somewhat unlikely source, J. Crew's Fall 2011 preview, where a pair of rust/navy striped leggings were paired with a dress. Like my niece and so many 3-year olds, these leggings had visual interest, looked warm and delightfully offbeat. I wear bright coloured tights and sometimes add patterned pairs, so I decided these leggings would be added to my closet this fall. I adjusted this plan slightly when I discovered said leggings cost $80. I demurred further when I saw them in person--with no stretch, they looked like pajamas.

But the desire to have striped leggings (preferably in some kind of red-rust/navy combo) persisted. Ironically, I found the solution at a great price--and in far better fabric (a proper leggings cotton spandex) at the J. Crew factory site. At a shade under $15 each, I got the red/blue (alas in a large which is a little big as the Medium had sold out) and the navy/white. These work with patterned Rachel Comey dresses and with little box pleat skirts and boots. And they are warm enough for the early cold now coming our way.


Winter/Fall Wardrobe Updates, Part 1: Sweaters

For the first year in ages, I've kept a list of what I need and what I don't as I update my closet for the season. For the first time ever, I'm also in the process of sorting out items to post on the new blog as I bring in the new and cycle out the old. This process has also taught me about some of my weaknesses when it comes to buying new clothes.

I tend to have somewhat of a magpie eye--it's not the glittery items that get me going but pieces that speak to me for some reason or other. I don't follow trends inordinately. Some items are always going to be a no for me, regardless of how hot they are--anything hippie (ponchos, fringe), western wear, safari (something that always spells lack of designer inspiration to me), Russian and tartan (ditto, unless you are Alexander McQueen) and longer skirts. But there are those pieces every so often that I think look impressive on others--friends, models, on the printed/digital page--and I decide they'll pep up my wardrobe. Only they don't get worn and I go back to the same pieces. I am also not the greatest accessoriser and I do fall into certain style patterns that lead me back to specific pieces each season.

All this makes me sound frightfully boring, I know. But I often find myself crunched for time and needing to get dressed in weather appropriate outfits relatively quickly. Instead of randomly acquiring pretty pieces, I've concentrated on replacing and supplementing items that get heavy use and are on their last legs (if nothing else, the supplements might eke a little more life out of these favourites). In the fall/winter, I wear a lot of crew neck cashmere sweaters and boyfriend cardigans. Both are surprisingly tough to find in good colours--why so many v-necks I wonder?--and at a reasonable price so those were my top priority this season. I have two Inhabit sweaters that I've almost worn to death and those are probably two of the most important staples in my cold weather wardrobe, so replacements/supplements were my top priority.

Fortunately, J. Crew ran several promos this fall, with two even overlapping. I invested in these pieces which I think will go a long way towards helping with my fall/winter wear.


I picked up this cashmere cardigan in both this color above and in a bottle green. It's super soft, doesn't look like it will pill much and is slouchy without being shapeless. I'm not always up for duplicates but I could get more of these and wear them for years or until they disintegrate. At a shade over $110 each, I think that's a decent investment.

I also found a cashmere crew neck with nice detailing (love the buttons on the shoulders and the slight yoke) on double promo, making it about 40% off. I got this in navy which will be incredibly versatile. Again it's nice and soft and will make its debut this cold weekend (snow in October seems wrong, but there you go).


Ironically, all three were J. Crew catalogue/online exclusives. I usually think of that label as being synonymous with dull and boring. Maybe I am getting older, but these seem to be classics in the best sense--items I'll wear again and again without looking dull and frumpy.

More of my fall finds to follow.

AWOL

Sorry about the paucity of posts this month. The combination of teaching/grading/writing/letters of recommendation, a nasty virus and an out of town trip left me exhausted and scraping for time to get even the essential work done. This blog was one casuality. I'm not out of the woods yet but I am taking an hour to clean up and watch a bit of TV so this seemed like a good time to write.

Last weekend, I was in Pittsburgh for a dear friend's wedding to her beautiful girlfriend. If you know me, it's no secret that Pittsburgh is not my favorite place in the world. I lived there for a while and felt suffocated, buried alive, and out of sorts, so I don't go back often. But this visit reminded me that while Pittsburgh and me do not mix (I even felt some of that emotional suffocation as a visitor), the friends I made there were first-rate--which I already knew but it felt good to have it confirmed. The lovely Gina who I actually met in NYC met me at the airport and we spent the remainder of Thursday afternoon and evening together. I stayed with my dear pals, Jane and Kathie, and spent Friday with the girls and their beautiful cats, Nigel and Eloise, and then Saturday was the wedding and time to catch up with the irrepressible John and Patrick who I dearly missed. The ceremony was beautiful--held at the Phipps Conservatory, a glorious collection of indoor and outdoor botanical gardens--and the brides were so beautiful that John and I cried. The reception was amazing with some of the best speeches I've ever heard and so much warmth and love in the air, not to mention incredible food and drink.

I returned to NYC exhausted, pleased to be back and grateful to have such wonderful friends who will always be in my life.

Community Closet Sale

The new blog seems to be up and running successfully--I've sold virtually everything I posted and had some great sale experiences. If anybody wants an invitation, please leave me a comment. The more buyers and sellers the better.

I'll be posting some more pieces soon from Mayle, Rachel Comey, Jill Stuart and others.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cats in NYC desperately needing homes--including kittens

I'm not on facebook and cannot adopt a fourth cat but if you are in NYC and are thinking about a cat, these poor babies, including kittens, are going to be killed if not adopted soon. I can't even look as I'm so sad about it, but please pass this along so that they can find homes. If you can't adopt, at least share the facebook link or post it on your blog/twitter to help them get homes not the death penalty.

https://www.facebook.com/nycurgentcats

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sick

I was looking forward to this week. NYU has no classes on Monday and Tuesday (Columbus Day and a university wide holiday respectively) so rather than preparing classes over the weekend and teaching, I was free to write. Even better, a sunny warm weather forecast promised further inspiration and comfort.

Alas, the world had other plans for me. I developed a cold on Thursday which seemed to be passing by Sunday but yesterday evening the headache that had grabbed me all Saturday transpired to be something other than the sinus-related headache that comes in a cold's wake. Indeed, the achy knees suggested something more systematic.

So, yes, I got sick on the nicest week of August. But I have got some work done. I think I may have finished the proposal and sample chapter (once I copy over a few minor edits from my paper copy to the Word files). And I've started the work of carving a paper out of the sample chapter that I hope I will be able to submit to a journal sometime next week.

EDIT: It's October, not August which just (a) testifies to how lovely the weather has been over the last few days and (b) shows how much I don't want it to be this late in the year!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lapping

As I sit here working, two delightful cats (Blue and Remy) are eating an early dinner. I can hear the delicate stereo of two cats lapping up their soft chicken Wellness as I edit down this chapter (and hope that tonight will be the night that it's finished).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mayle Danya Dress and Loden Jeanne Bag for Sale

I've just posted my Mayle Danya dress and loden green Jeanne bag on the Community Closet Sale blog. If you are interested, please email me or leave a comment. Dress is $175 and bag $250 OBO--both include domestic/Canadian shipping.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs RIP

Steve Jobs accomplishments would have been staggering had he lived to be 100 and enjoyed the greatest of health. But considering he suffered from what may be the worst form of cancer, they are mind blowing. Clearly I'm just preaching to the choir in acknowledging that he changed the world--in many ways for the better. It's just so very sad.

I type this on my MacBook Pro, I read about his death on my iPod Touch. I've been a Mac user since System 7 came out--the revolutionary OS that allowed you to use two programs at a time--and was so happy to have a speedy Classic II with a large 40 MB hard drive... I'd still have that computer if I hadn't left it in my office back in Pittsburgh (something I regret so much). I put a sticker on it--a pig that changed into a guinea pig--and loved it so much. But then I went to colour macs, then the clamshell iBook in orange, which I still have, having learned my lesson about keeping Macs where possible. I've had a blue iMac (which I had to jettison because of space issues), a PowerMac which I keep as a back up, a green iPod Mini, the classic iPod and soon, I hope, the iPad. I can chart my adult life via my Macs, their size, colour, capacity, etc. Never have I once considered going for a PC. In my office I enjoy my big screen iMac--all classics of design and function.

My brothers used to laugh at me for using a Mac, mistaking its elegance and simplicity for something more amateurish. Now one of them regrets turning down a MacBook Pro for a Sony laptop and is asking his boss for the Mac while begging his wife to let him buy a MacBook Pro for home. Both he and my older brother now own iPad IIs and iPhones so I'm no longer in a Mac desert.

Thank you, Steve. I admire your vision, hard work and bravery more than I can say in a small blog post. Rest in much deserved peace.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Recent Acquisition

I've been really good recently--but I do have a list of needs that aren't pure wants. Obviously in the west, in post-industrial capitalism, it's tough to say that any of us really need anything--we could darn (I actually do this), repair and rewear. Still, by current western middle-class standards, these are needs--or at least needs-ish.

I may have a lot of cardigans (but these are in all weights) but I'm not so rich when it comes to sweaters. I'm not a huge fan of v-necks, preferring round or crew necks, and those aren't easy to find which always baffles me. During the winter, autumn and early spring, I've been living in two round neck Inhabit cashmere sweaters that I got at their sample sale in around 2008. They are basics--one is black, one is brown, both midweight. If you know me, you know these sweaters. Alas this year may be their last as they've started to show signs of losing their guts--I've darned holes and even taken to wearing one inside out (like Steven Alan shirts, they play with seams so this isn't as strange as it might sound). Sadly, it looks like they will soon lose their shape. I need to replace them, and supplement them with other similar woolies.

Last week, J. Crew had 30% off sale items, so I invested in this one after trying the navy, full-price version on in the store (no sale stock there). It fit and wasn't as short or boxy as the one in the online picture. It was soft, in a lovely green (one of my favourite colours) so I think it was a good investment. Here it is:

Busy, Busy

It's been a solid few weeks of work, hence my limited blogging. So far, I'm keeping to my plans and writing for two days a week, even though it has been a little slow going at times. I'm hoping this week to finish the book proposal for number 2, and then the plan is to write the proposal and sample chapter for number 3 (on Celebrity). It should be doable--before Christmas I'd like to have three book contracts and that's motivating me to keep going. I've also realized the second half of my sample chapter for book 2 could be a stand-alone article so I may tinker with that as I start the proposal for Celebrity.

I have to say I haven't been so excited about my work since grad school days. Now I just need the time to write rather than prepare classes, which takes far longer than teaching them!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Closet Purge Continues

I've decided to sell my never used brand new dark green Mayle Jeanne bag. Pictures to follow--the chain strap is still covered in the protective tissue. $250 including shipping. As soon as I have pictures I will post it here and on the new blog.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tocca--Effectively Lyell

Monica and I visited the new Tocca boutique on Saturday to check out the new Lyell collection. Most of the pieces from the lookbook were in--save a few sweaters, skirts and other items that are arriving this week.

Basically, this is Lyell--Emma's vision is not diluted. Alas, the sizing is Lyell too. While it goes up to size 10, in some pieces that 10 translates into a large 6 at best--as with anything with a narrow, fitted or pencil skirt. I had one size 10 dress on--or rather, partially on as it wouldn't even go below my waist. The simple shft dresses were a tad narrow on my hips in a 10, the blouses likewise were too fitted and a 10 didn't do up on my back. Even the coats were somewhat of a narrow fit around the back. I could get away with the coats, the black lace dress fit, as did the gathered blouses, but if you are even a true 8, sizing here could be very tricky indeed. It was my biggest complaint and is totally unnecessary--I even joked to the very nice shop girls that I was almost sized out of the store.

Prices and quality-wise, it was a little cheaper than Lyell--coats were $500-700, dresses $400-700, blouses a shade under $300 (except the lace which was twice the price), knits seem to be around $300-600 although it was tough to tell as several were not yet in. Pants around $325, shorts around $250.
Quality was good but not as fine as Lyell--the details were there but linings were acetate and the fabrics were not quite as fine as I'd like--some of the tweeds were notably scratchy. But overall very nice.

My main problem was really the small fit. There also doesn't look like there will be much stock, at least at first. I suspect they want to test the demand--to see if there is any shortage, to build buzz and test the market. There will be some limited online stock and limited number of items sold elsewhere but the full line will only be available in the store. Overall, it was lovely but nothing we haven't seen from Emma before, although it was a great distillation of a maturing aesthetic with some lovely delicate prints (the acorn was adorable) and some better colors. I hope they sort out the sizing as anybody who is tall and not a tiny, tiny frame will be sized out of some items which is perhaps not the best thing to do in this market.

Tiny girl-sized versions of the stock--plus a few other adorable outfits--were another great surprise. Very reasonably priced, these made me yearn even more for a little girl, even though there were perhaps too many browns for most 5 year old's tastes.

Nice store, airy, and lovely sales girls too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Blog

Community Closet Sale is now up and running. No content yet but if you want to be added to the blog, please leave me a comment.

I'm thinking something very much like Law of General Economy. Basically, no fast fashion (H&M, Forever 21, Zara but J Crew, Madewell, Anthro are all fine), no price gouging--this is a place for those items that don't work for you and are in great shape and may be ideal for someone else at a reasonable price, of course. Here's the url. I hope to post some of my items soon--as soon as my crazy work schedule permits.

Caroline's Mayle for Sale

Caroline is also having a bit of a closet clearance and has the following Mayle for sale. If you are interested contact her at csinderst[at]gmail[dot]com.


This is a great dress--I have it in an 8--but it runs a little narrow in the hips. This one is a size 4. Caroline never wore it because it was so small. This one is tough to find, particularly in the full color paradiso print.


This is also a size 4 and again runs small (it's quite rare and certainly is a dress I would have bought had they made it in the size 10 I would have needed). Again, Caroline never wore this as it was too small. SOLD


Somewhat worn in, Caroline did not specify size but I suspect a 6. This is worn in and has some pilling. $75 or best offer.


Jeanne purse in rare Tiffany blue, made solely for Ten Little Indians final sale. Excellent condition.

Please contact Caroline for all details, including prices, other photos, etc.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mayle for Sale

As our clothing rails are literally bending under the weight of my clothes, I'm going through items that I own but do not wear often enough to justify keeping. Some of these I'll be posting on ebay soon, but before I do that, I wanted to list them here in case anybody was interested.



1. Holiday 2007 cardigan--shown center in this image. Ivory and gold. Never worn--immaculate condition, no pilling. Size L but runs small--best for a medium or would even work on a S. I love it but it is just a little too small for me. SOLD



2. Fabienne vest in gray, size M, Fall 2008. Never worn--it wasn't me and I won't wear it so it's best to put it out in the world for someone who wants it. SOLD


3. Sonya dress in sky blue--size 8. I love it and it is extremely rare. If it doesn't sell, I'll just keep it, but if you are interested, this one is amazing. Worn four times and in mint condition. It's the fabulous blue/silver gray dress with puff sleeves, black and white buttons with red thread, and a square neck.

4. Coco clogs (?)--the new clogs from the pop up. Size 41, fits a 40 (runs small) worn once but they just aren't me.

5. purple ikat print dress--the short version of the one that Kirsten Dunst wore. Size 8 or 10 (forget which but runs small and fits like an 8). Worn once for an afternoon. SOLD.



6. Mayle Senna jacket, size 8. Never worn so I'm going to part with it.



7. Guinevre jacket (the jacket in the Elvira cotton). Lovely but again I've not worn it. Size 8 but runs a touch small so would also work for a 6. Image above is from the flickr pool, not my jacket.



8. Mayle Rosetta cardigan, size L. Never worn, in the tan colorway in this image.

Others to follow, along with photos. Email me if interested--moya[dot]luckett[at]gmail[dot]com.

J Crew Teddy Dress

Recently, I've been trying to buy only a few items, investing in what I need (winter shoes are on that list) or items that are so special and so wearable that they will revitalize what I have and last for a long time. On those counts, the J Crew Teddy dress was near the top of my fall shopping list. It looked warm, had bracelet length sleeves and could be dressed up or down.

I was obviously not alone. Fellow bloggers Marti and Joyce both singled this item out as a must have and it sold out very quickly online. I've noticed that J Crew takes a while to get new items in store (even in New York, they can be up online for a month or more before making it into what are supposedly flagship stores). I would rather buy in person for a number of reasons, notably fit, but also because bodies differ in their angles and lines, making the flow of a garment change from person to person--I'm also not a 18 year old model who has had top stylists tweak the fit of an item first, then photoshop their pictures. The Teddy dress was also in a wool crepe--and I have an allergy to lanolin so a lot of wool items are totally out for me.

Finally, I heard that the Teddy dress was in stock in Manhattan and looked at it on Thursday after acupuncture. What a disappointment. It looks boxy and a little matronly not young and slightly 1960s retro (in a good, mod way). The neckline is trimmed with the same fabric and has a raw edge which just looks a little cheap. The color isn't saturated and looks very slightly faded and, most importantly perhaps, the fabric feels rough--so much so that the unlined arms would make me break out into a well known rash (one I've successfully avoided for years by refusing to wear woolen sweaters).

I'm not disappointed though. I feel I dodged a bullet and my money is safe. I'm going to try and invest in a few of the Lyell pieces but even if that doesn't happen, I feel I'm the winner.

It also reminds me, yet again, to be skeptical of J Crew's styling. Sure they do have some nice long sleeved t-shirts and sweaters, and I've got a couple of decent skirts from them, but the stock in stores is never quite as chic or interesting as the catalogues suggest--remaining boxy and a little bit too safe.

Friday, September 9, 2011

More Lyell

These pieces have Emma's signature all over them and, if I had unlimited resources, I'd get them all. Her coats--as always--are irresistible.


This cardigan looks lovely (and probably is expensive) but I love good knits.


A perfect schoolgirl dress--something I always covet. Alas, it may not be large enough--I always have problems with Emma's sizing and have no idea if the Tocca line will be cut the same way.



Just lovely. And those purple shoes are wonderful (does Tocca make shoes)?


Love it.


Close to perfection (but it looks like a mash up of my beloved Lyell and JM peacoats so there's definitely a trend here).

So Lyell Returns

I just got an email that wasn't a huge surprise. The last time I spoke to Emma, she mentioned that she would be back when her baby girl had grown a little. She's designing a collection for Tocca and if this image is anything to go by, it will be promising (I just hope the immaculate finishing and manufacturing standards Lyell was known for continues in this venture).


I've been increasingly reluctant to part with my Lyell as it just looks both fresher and more classic with each season. While I am not going to spend wildly, I'm very interested to see this collection and maybe judiciously select more key pieces for my fall wardrobe--not just for 2011 but for the years ahead.

Best In Show

There's a new book I have to get when it comes out: Best In Show: Knit Your Own Cat. It's released in October and the Guardian has a preview today. I thought I'd share a couple of these adorable photos to brighten up this Friday.



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to School

Which is the reason for my sluggish blogging. I'm hoping to get the book proposal (for #2) off this week and then hopefully I can resume a little more regular blogging. Lots of things to talk about but so little time.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Possible new blog?

I've been searching through my closet this last few weeks--both to avoid shopping and to see what I really have buried deep in there. Some treasures have been put into semi-regular rotation while I think others can have a new life when paired with other layers, worn under/over sweaters/cardigans and the like.

But others are immaculate, pretty and plain wrong for me. There are dresses I bought when I was a small size 6 that were slightly narrow then. I've barely worn them and know it is unlikely they'll fit me any time in the next few years. Others were just a mistake--great dresses that isn't made for my body type.

I wish I had a chance to list them on the General Economy blog but the waiting list is so long. I'm contemplating setting up a similar blog for those items that are great for someone else, but not for me, or some of you. If there is interest, I may go ahead--with help from friends, I hope.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Grunt Work

Sometimes writing doesn't come easily, that I know. On those days, you either have to just plough on and hope that getting something done is better than nothing or just give up and play in the sun. I'd do the latter but we're now at that time where I can't. Free days are effectively few and far between so today, I took the morning off. Right now, I'm trying to write the very last chapter description for the book proposal and it's just slow work. I've spent hours today to write maybe two pages. But that's two pages I'd otherwise not have. I've fallen victim to the power of the chocolate chip cookie too, but sometimes it's better to indulge, feel guilty and then get back to writing, right?

And August passed and I didn't buy any dresses, shoes, sandals or striped t-shirts. A victory of some kind for sure--although those two anthro nighties, a cheap ($25) Madwell shirt, and the last of the J. Crew sale purchases means this was still not a pristine month. I am doing better, however. Now I have to withstand the Labor Day sales.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Countdown

With one week to Labor Day, the new semester is almost upon me, and that means the end of crazy doing my own work days and the need to share my time with my students. I'm vowing this semester will be different and that I will accomplish big things. I will get the new book proposal out in the next couple of weeks and I will finish those almost done articles. I will get the celebrity book proposal out to the press by Christmas and I will write the second chapter of the femininity book. I will go to yoga, zumba and pilates, and I will not let the potentially endless job of course prep and teaching impinge on my publication schedule. I have no intention of neglecting my teaching duties but putting them in their place, conducting them efficiently rather than letting things slide into work days. As such, I'm declaring Thursday and Friday as writing days and teaching prep for Tuesday and Wednesday. Weekends can go either way, depending on my needs.

I want this to be a big semester for me and it will only be that way if I get my nose to the grindstone and use my time efficiently. Otherwise the sadness that always accompanies abandoning the summer months with their time to be used on whatever work I choose, will be truly deserved. I can't do anything about the cooling winds and shorter days (both of which make me a little sad), but I can keep an eye on the way I organize my time.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Damp Weekend

Well, that was quiet. I woke up at 8 this morning and was relieved that there was little damage to survey, just some leaves on the ground. The marvelous tall tree opposite was still there--it was clear that we'd escaped lightly. Even the storm surge a few hours later was minimal. Sadly, it looks like some people upstate bore the brunt of the winds and rain, but other than having a rather tepid weekend working indoors on syllabi, I thankfully have nothing to report.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Waiting for Irene

That pretty much sums up today. I went to zumba--the last class of the day (ending at 12.30) at my yoga studio which was running an abbreviated schedule like every other business in NYC. After showering, we went out to look for torches but there were none left in Jackson Heights. Then it was home until further notice. I wrote a couple of syllabi but it's an odd experience waiting to see if power and/or water will cut out, if the apocalypse will arrive or if the storm will be just a storm. Enforced inaction seems to have some kind of link to eating, which may account for all the crazy food shopping that many NY-ers engaged in over the last two days. Our form took cooking--I made a fish tagine which takes a while to cook, and Evan made chocolate chip cookies. The peaches in the kitchen were getting pretty ripe so I had two of them. I watched a of pre-Code film (got to maximize that electricity) and followed the storm's unbelievably slow progress online. Yesterday, it was predicted to hit NYC on Saturday around 2-10 p.m., now it seems that it will be nearer 11 am on Sunday.

As long as we have power and can work, we'll be fine. And water too, of course. I'm hoping all NY-ers will be safe and will keep power/water. But it has been oddly quiet everywhere today--no trains and very few people on the street.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Madness

About 90 minutes ago, I decided to take heed of the warnings saturating the media and went out to buy a few essentials for the storm--water, batteries, salad greens, fruit, cookie mixes (per Evan's request and the city's recommendations) and some batteries and a torch. I needed to hit a few local shops to pick up a few ingredients I need for a fish tagine I'm making this weekend if we still have power, and I also wanted to get a couple of Indian ready made meals from Patel Brothers supermarket to take into work for dinners (that way I *won't* grab bagels).

The streets looked deceptively normal--the weather is great--but then I hit the madness that was the local supermarkets. Patels was pretty busy but a lot of it looked like normal shopping. Then I hit Trade Fair and Met Foods which were nuts--so much so that certain items were already gone (bananas, cookie mixes). People were bulk buying meats and one woman clutched her canned black forest ham. Queso, salsa, chips, large quantities of nuts, soda and pet food seemed popular too, as did bags of sugar, peanut butter and jam. I figure people are going to cook tons of meat tonight and Saturday and eat that cold as and when we lose power.  The fruit stands were also busy--again bananas seemed to be the big favorite, along with tomatoes and bagged carrots. I found some black figs and got three ($1) as a little pre-hurricane treat. Mixed salad greens were neglected and I stocked up as they may end up being our Sunday dinner in a salad with avocados, small tomatoes, cheese, walnuts and some eggs that I need to hard boil soon. I am glad I got some 12 grain and seed bread from Whole Foods yesterday as it is evidently insane in there today.

I hit the dollar store very close to home and managed to get three gallons of Poland Spring water and staggered back under the weight of all my shopping. We have 4 gallons of water now and maybe could get a couple more, but I didn't want to stockpile at someone else's expense. Already water seems scarce in quantities over 1 litre bottles. All this seems like madness--we still need to get a torch and batteries--maybe two--so we can read if the power goes out. I'm also charging ipods and laptops so I can watch movies--I think my Mac will give me about 4 hours of entertainment that way. Fortunately we already buy cat food in bulk as our three have rather healthy appetites so there's a lot of Wellness in the house--I just hope no windows blow out as I don't want to have to wrangle them into their carriers.

Hopefully, none of this will be necessary. But one thing is certain--I won't be going to pilates on Sunday morning as we're all supposed to be indoors from 2 p.m. Saturday till 2 p.m. Sunday. I'm not panicking and expect this will be more fuss over nothing--at least, that's what I'm hoping, but better safe than sorry.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Small Purchases

I suppose if I'd thought about it twice, I would have been able to get through the month without buying any clothes. But I cracked just a little yesterday. Around the time of our monumental earthquake, I wandered into Anthropologie, more out of curiosity than anything. I tend to find their clothes monstrously over-embellished and somewhat overpriced--if I like something, I know it will never make it to the sales wrack, so browsing is usually safe. I see the things I would buy if they were cheaper or reduced, and if discounts are applied, their eager fan base nabs the items before I do. I'm not that worried about it as there are always other places to shop.

I am a fan of their nightdresses, however. They are pretty, comfortable and distinctive. I also refuse to pay full price. Of late, they have not been discounting them--or at least the ones I like don't go on sale. Again, I don't stalk this store so I could have missed out on a few.

Anyway, there were two nice ones on the sale rack. One reddish cotton jersey/t-shirt fabric with pockets at the bottom, and one short cotton woven one in a cream print. Both were $29.99 or half price and below the tax threashold. Both were comfortable and fit--the creamy one was even a little big but you don't want nighties sticking to your skin in hot weather. So I got both, figuring that these will last a while and replace ones that will soon be on their way out. I have a couple of anthro nighties that are old and will perish soon (I worked out that they are about 6-8 years old, to my horror).

But did I need them? A quick mental count today put my number of anthro nighties at 11, with one extra from Target (a cotton Liberty of London that probably won't last forever). So I guess nighties can now go on the list of unnecessary purchases--along with striped t-shirts, pyjama bottoms and tights. Unless they are spectacular, I do not need any more of the above items. And when I mean spectacular, I really mean I should not buy them unless they are so staggeringly wonderful that I'd regret it forever.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

So we had an earthquake

Or at least, that's what I was told. I went into Gallatin for a student colloquium today--the oral exam or conversation on a student's concentration that marks the end of their degree. This one was particularly fine--great student with a great topic (melancholy and romanticism) and a great committee. She also bought macarons, madeleines, strawberries and champagne grapes which I ate--colloquium food, like travel food, doesn't count.

After that, acupuncture. And supposedly the earthquake tremors--which I didn't feel. I must have been on the table or writing a check when it struck, or maybe I was walking down 17th Street, but I did see a bunch of people outside an office building--my immediate thought was sample sale (but the location didn't fit) or maybe some celebrity was signing something. It was only when I got home that I heard we reportedly had an earthquake.

I've never lived in LA or any earthquake prone area but the very fact that the subway was working perfectly and there were no delays on the LIRR or Metro North--as there are when we have a major rain storm--makes me amazed at the fuss the media here and globally are making over this event. Maybe some people felt something but I can only imagine from the people I saw and from my own experience that as far as NYC goes, this was truly a lot of fuss over nothing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Neglect

The last month has been dedicated to the new book. My writing mode is not one without consequences as I turn into some form of hermit. Any "what I wore today" posts would only document my descent into some kind of sloven. Pyjamas, nightdresses, yoga pants and anything that can withstand humidity would probably be top of my list. Scraped back hair, make-up free face, and whatever shoes I may need to break in around the house complete the attire. I usually make breakfast relatively early (oatmeal, berries, walnuts) and then pick at it until the bowl is finally empty some two hours later. Lunch (usually something like a salmon burger and one slice of wholegrain seeded bread) comes when I realize it's 3.30 because of the gnawing pain in my stomach or my general light headedness. Sometimes I also realize that it's 3.30 and I'm still in my nightie so while everything heats up, I grab a shower and something to wear. Dinner comes at 10 or so--after Evan finally tells me that he's starving and has to eat and thus ends the day.

Some days I decide to have fun--I put on an old dress to see if I can fit into it. Today was one of them. I found an old empire waist purple cotton Jill Stuart dress. I bought it for a baby shower (the friend's daughter is now 5) and didn't wear it again. I realized why today. It's low cut in a way that I don't like--I'm not Lindsay Lohan and don't want to pour out of my clothes, even though I am far from busty like she is. This dress is one of those that would have that effect on anybody which was probably why it was 80 percent off. Fortunately, I can still fit into it, but I think that's largely because it is an empire waist dress and so open (ahem) on top.

It's hard to believe that a week from now school will be in swing and I'll have to give up this solitary, messy and productive lifestyle. I love teaching but this book proposal really has to come first.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

First Draft Done!

So, the second book is now well underway. I finished the sample chapter tonight at 10.30 p.m., or should I say, the first draft. I'm still playing around with the argument, possibly wanting to add more material on Valley of the Dolls (really, how could I not given its utter fabulousness?) and I still have to cut it back. At somewhere around 80 pages, it is too long--50-60 pages would be better, but I think the topic of this chapter could easily be a book--and maybe it will one day. That topic is the female group film--and there are many wonderful examples--and equally many terrible incarnations (like Bratz--part of Ben's and my Saturday night viewing--it is as bad as you think).

But for now I have to leave it alone and return to my actual proposal. Again, it's way too long at 25 pages, and it also needs some work. But I'm getting there. I have a couple of interested university presses--so I'm hoping that I can get everything emailed off in the next two weeks. A few days away from the chapter will only help--as I work on the proposal itself, I"ll get the necessary distance to edit the chapter with a clear head.

Unfortunately, I don't think I can finish any of the three articles I was finishing off over the summer but hopefully that's what September and October are for. Even with teaching, I am determined to have these finished by Christmas--especially as one will effectively be the sample chapter for the third book, which I hope to have in by the semester's end.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Working

I've been trying to exert some strong discipline over the last few weeks and, hopefully, I am still on target to get the second book proposal off to the press before school starts. As a result, I'm only blogging sporadically at best.

Two things of note--my black Pina resort 08 Mayle dress that was always a comfy fit and was too tight at the beginning of summer now fits again, although not quite as well as it did before.

Secondly, I have managed not to buy anything new in over two weeks and counting.

Monday, August 8, 2011

London's Burning

In just a brief break from regular programming, I wanted to offer a few words about the London riots. While ostensibly in response to the police fatally shooting a reputed drug dealer who was certainly armed (not something that is legal), the arson, looting and generally thuggery that started in Tottenham (a mixed-to-poor area of North London) is clearly not about that kind of justice. Many looters are clearly stealing plasma screen TVs, athletic shoes, electronics and clothing out of greed; social media and Blackberries have clearly helped spread the violence and I'm sure in some cases there's organized crime and gangs involved. Some of the teenagers may just be guilty of being young, on an adrenaline kick and/or poor. Clearly policing has failed as the riots have spread in all directions, even leading to some looting in Tottenham Court Road in the West End, but some of this may be because new technologies and recent cutbacks make these riots very different from those in the 1980s.

I don't think that consciously many rioters have an agenda beyond smashing, grabbing, looting and getting high on being there. But besides the ingrained dislike of police in some communities, there are clearly broader cultural issues at stake. It's no accident that these riots have occurred as major austerity cutbacks have affected the poorest, including the loss of youth clubs that keep young, poor kids occupied, the loss of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and the tripling of University fees under this government of Old Etonians, aristocrats and other social elites, for whom my contempt is endless. Combine that with cutbacks in police manpower, public services and the collapse of the global financial systems--which have already created housing bubbles and disenfranchised the majority at the expense of the few--then rioting is to be expected. Of course, the younger generation have been most subject to these cuts, and suffered the most from the downward spiral in wages and the off-sourcing of jobs, so their anger--and their ability and willingness to act on it--should not be surprising.

But that kind of rioting--the kind with a goal that suggests a true collectivity--seems to be a more modernist phenomenon, one responding to the possibility for change coming from the people, and the desire to attain social mobility while still protecting the social good. This is more aimless, viral in the most cliched sense, but it doesn't mean that there is no social context. In a western culture saturated with greed, where identity seems to be dependent on having the latest consumer goods, this response should not be surprising. Sadly, it's likely that aimless rioting will bring no results--especially when the perpetrators hurt their communities and those of others, and are probably as unlikeable as their actions would attest. But it doesn't mean that these riots are just meaningless bad behavior. I don't condone them at all, but they are a product of a broader malaise, one entrenched in the financial system, the rapaciousness of increasingly global corporations and the international shift back to a world of a few ultra rich, a select, small middle-class and bitter competition among the rest for increasingly limited resources.

I'd hope to see these riots--in what is one of the safest, most beautiful and most prosperous global cities--as a wake up call: I just hope the British people, myself included, attach blame to those who deserve it--both at the micro level of finding and convicting ring leaders and looters, but also at the macro-level--the politicians themselves, particularly Cameron, Osbourne and Clegg, who with all their millions have cut off the resources to so many who depend on them. And, more importantly, I hope that the financial system and the neo-liberal corporate culture with which it is synonymous, is seen as one of the major forces behind these kinds of behaviors. The bigger criminals, after all, are those that would plunder communities, remove jobs and entire industries overseas while bribing us all with the allure of cheap commodities.

Carb Cutback

While I don't have Marti's willpower, I'm doing a little weight loss experiment of my own here, cutting back my carbs. I was stunned that my morning organic oatmeal has nearly as much carbohydrate as some low carb diets recommend for a day (24 g), especially as I don't add sugar. I combine it with berries and walnuts so there's probably a little more carbs in there that puts me over the seemingly impossible low carb 30g.

As for the rest of the day, I'm cutting back to one smallish slice of 12 grain organic bread at lunchtime. My main fear is by mid-afternoon I'll be ready for more. I don't entirely buy into all the health benefits of low carbs (meat is a prime factor in so many illnesses from colon cancer to heart disease and vegetarians generally live longer as a result), but I'm upping my salmon, sardine and egg intake. I just hope I can still concentrate on my writing without as many carbs.

Now back to work.