Thursday, March 31, 2011

Grading done!

I've just finished my mini-grading marathon. Five weeks of the semester left means we're really getting to the tough part of the semester where tiredness and increased work meet. As we're about to slide into April, it still feels like winter which seems to have all of us distanced from the reality of the end of another academic year. If I finish these two articles and get on with the book proposal, I will be relatively pleased with this year's progress.

I'm also going to try to implement a vow of austerity on the clothing/book/dvd front (unless absolutely necessary for work) as I let myself slip this month. The perils of the final winter sale. I do need shoes, however, but I have this reluctance to pay full price...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I bought the Flavia skirt from ebay last week and since it has arrived, it has barely been off my body (save for when I sleep). I love this skirt and it works so well with some of the pieces I don't usually wear as often as I'd like. I particularly like the way it looks with FW 07's Virginie blouse tucked in at the waist. I think it may run a little large as the 6 is a perfect fit on me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thank You

Today started with a lot of stress. While I still have issues I have to deal with, the kindness of two people made my day so much easier. First of all, I want to thank Erica for being so amazing and scanning the two articles I needed for me. I can't thank you enough for your kindness--and I know scanning articles is a thankless task.

My acupuncturist was also amazing. It turns out that one of her former workers did not process my claims, hence the notification I received yesterday. She's also prepared to swallow the loss--although we are both going to appeal the ruling so that she doesn't lose out (as a small business she can't afford to). She was so kind and graceful and evidently my current claims are being processed so that's one weight off my mind.

I also received my Gilt package. As seems to be typical, Jeffrey Monteiro's sizing is all over the place and far smaller this season--the summer items all ran really large. Someone get this man a fit model. The size 8 mini is going back as it's more like a small 6--alas, the 10 is out of stock. I am really pleased I got the blue dress in a 10 as even that is not so roomy and anything smaller wouldn't work at all. As for the Rachel Comey boots, they fit, are relatively comfortable for such high heels and will work for conferences and other events. I am on the fence and think I'll keep them. If they had been $79--as they were a day later--I'd have no hesitation. I am now wondering if I have to return the Gilt items in the same box they came in or if any UPS box will work as the box I have is enormous. I also now have to find a UPS station. I like the JM dress I'm returning but I guess that's life. As soon as I pulled it off the hanger, I knew it was running really small and that it wouldn't work. I may even need a 12 in this one--and as it was final sale just a day later, I know I'm not going to be getting any returns.

So, as I end the day, I still need to sort out those banking issues--the lack of interest statements. I will call one bank in Pittsburgh tomorrow and deal with Citibank the next day. And my debit card worked today in Trader Joe's so the Warner Archive site must be at fault. But I'm still looking forward to my trip to the moon with Ashley. It looks like Brittan is also joining us so it's going to be quite the adventure--three astronaut-ettes and their feline friends.

Going to the Moon

Over the last 24 hours, I've had to deal with no end of unexpected stresses. First of all, my health insurance denied acupuncture claims going back to September, claiming that my acupuncturist did not submit them in time. I have no idea what this means, other than I may have to pay/appeal/give up acupuncture at a time when that was far from my plan. Even if it works out, it is a time suck I don't need. Added to that, some readings I thought I had scanned for my class appear not to be scanned and the book is out of the library--and I need them by tomorrow. And there is a possibility I wasn't paid for some teaching I did last semester--at least according to my W2. And I'm just way too busy at this time of the semester to do any extra digging. I also found out that NY State taxes are due on April 15, not April 18, so it matters not that the federal forms have three extra days (that I needed and was counting on) as I still have to have taxes filed by then. And neither of my banks have sent me interest notification. And for some reason last night, Warner Archives couldn't process my debit card--and I should have a lot of money in that account. So I tried. And tried again, and then with another browser and got the same results. So that's something I'm trying not to worry about

So, when my friend Ashley mentioned she was planning a trip to the moon, I decided to go along. Hopefully there are kittens and puffy pillows up there as I need a rest!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I recently took up Zumba at my yoga studio. I'm really hoping it will help me lose these pounds (20 or so) that gradually appeared on my body and don't seem to want to go anywhere. My friend, Alyssa, who is a personal trainer amongst other things (artist, software trainer, sewing queen, bra- and shoemaker, plumber, decorator, former strongest woman in NYC, teacher) has told me that resistance exercises alone (yoga, weights) will increase my metabolism but won't cause me to loose much weight. Similarly, cardio alone is relatively ineffective--both have to be combined.

Which brings me back to socks. My running shoes that I don't really wear to run didn't work for Zumba because they were too rigid and heavy, so I invested in a new pair from Puma ($85 plus tax). Obviously I don't wear anything on my feet for either yoga or pilates, but I need to wear socks to Zumba to prevent blisters. Alas, the socks I have are generally thick and knee length, which isn't good when you are sweating in a room with 10+ other exercisers. So I dug in my sock drawer and found a couple of semi-mismatched white anklets, one with a hole in the toes. I've worn them to class twice but they aren't the best and they are on the verge of disintegration.

So when I received an email from Hansel from Basel about their sock sale--prices as low as $2 a pair--I couldn't resist. I don't have that many pairs of socks and I do wear them--knee high and thigh high in the fall and spring, ankle socks in the summer and at the gym. And the two pairs I have from Hansel from Basel are among my favorites. So, for $16--$27 with shipping--I got the following:

The markdowns are remarkable (and I'm actually wishing I had got another pair)--the list price totalled $178. It looks like there is still plenty of stock, including tights (I'd have bought some but I know I am too tall for them and they won't fit). But now I have two nice new pairs for Zumba--the ankle socks above--and some other fun footwear for Spring, if it ever arrives. The brown and moss fishbone socks are my favorites.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Triangle Shirtwaister Factory

One hundred years ago today, 146 people, 123 of them women, perished in the Triangle shirtwaister factory fire. This has been a piece of history I've recounted many times to students, partly to let them know that the history of working women is far longer than most think. For my current students, this history is very close to home--indeed, today, as the commemorations were going on, we were having class in another room in that same building.

While I had a great class today, complete with a guest speaker--a gossip columnist from the Daily News--there did seem something a little too frivolous about teaching celebrity culture as outside a procession marched carrying the names of all the people who died that day. We heard bells toll, voices raised, chanting and watched representatives from schools, unions and those people who wanted to pay homage to those long-lost New Yorkers. In the current industrial climate, it seems such suffering is now forgotten, or, once again, considered acceptable in the face of the demand for ever-increasing profits at the workers cost. Ironically, today we were talking about consumerism, celebrity and materialism, topics with a critical edge but ones that still seem the privilege of an elite that don't have to worry as much about survival.

NYU (I presume) placed purple and black bunting in the former factory's window and the NY Fire Dept. had a fire engine outside the building, complete with a ladder going up to those same windows. There were wreaths outside on the sidewalk where people had placed flowers and written the deads' names in chalk on the pavement. A parade with photos and banners went down Broadway and across to Greene Street. It was all very moving.

This tragedy has always touched me. As an event linked to the histories of working (and working-class) women, consumer culture, Progressive era society and the nascent mass produced fashion industry, it is something that touches on my research issues, but it has also always moved me. Seeing the tributes and the girls' photographs brought tears to my eyes. I am pleased New York city has remembered this anniversary with such delicacy and respect.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bad Girl

I've had a chaotic last couple of weeks, doing things that I have to do even if they terrify me, working on papers and grading, grading, grading.

So, perhaps I can be excused for slipping. I checked into my Gilt Group cart today to check that the RC boots were still there. They were. As was the Jeffrey Monteiro dress from Fall that I placed in said cart months ago--only now it was $100 cheaper at $79. I clicked on it, found another one I liked, added that, and, as the boots are returnable (albeit for a credit) if they don't fit, they went in too. $340 later, I have the following coming:

This is the dress that I wanted from the Fall JM collection. I got an 8 as the top looks loose but of course, this is where Gilt is tough. Do I need the 8 or 10? Last time I bought from there, I got an 8 and a 10 and of course the 10 was huge.

I also got this dress in a cobalt blue. It was $99 from $620. The Gilt pictures are better. I opted for the 10 as this laces up the back but maybe should alter that order to an 8 for the self-same reason. Here's the Gilt image.

And here's the back:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, R.I.P.

I was on my way to a doctor's appointment this morning when I got a text from my friend Ashley stating that Elizabeth Taylor had died. I was a little surprised, largely because Liz T. has been ill for so long now it seems like she would have to be immune to death. Still, I know that's impossible, and the last images of her foreground her fragility.

She's not a star whose work I know that well--and she's certainly not a star of the studio age or golden era of Hollywood--other than as a child star or teenager. Instead she embodied that 50s post-Paramount Decree era when the studios weren't quite sure what they were going to become and exploded into larger than life or low-key, low-budget offerings. Taylor really epitomized the latter, with her Technicolor looks, before she became the star of the 50s biggest soap opera--the Eddie Fischer/Debbie Reynolds/Liz Taylor triangle. Then there was the 60-70s melodrama with Richard Burton--again, her image was bigger than most of her roles, two Oscars notwithstanding. The heady mix of gay activism, HIV fundraising, divorces, health problems, surgeries, Michael Jackson friendship, various weight gains and losses were always perhaps more triumphant than any acting, no matter how fine (and, yes, she could act)--and more compelling, making her one of the giants of both star and celebrity culture, as well as one of the iconic beauties of her time.

In that little corner of the internet where camp is always queen, you can find a perfect appreciation from my dear friend Ben who carried his own, hand embellished, White Diamonds bag. I think both of them--and their creator--would be most strongly appreciated by Miss Taylor, another reason why it is worth pausing to remember her and her legacy.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Don't Forget Japan's Animals

While there have been some heartwarming stories of animal survival in Japan--like the woman who came back to her ruined home and was delighted and surprised to see her cat coming down the stairs, or the story of the dog who stayed by its injured friend, protecting him/her until they were both rescued--the animal shelters and rescuers on the ground also need help. I was searching for links and these appear to be reliable.

 The Humane Society of the United States, one of my favorite charities, also looks like they are waiting to help as the conditions allow. As yet, they have no donation button on their website but it looks like they will be helping out.

Some Springtime Covets

Even though I'm vowing to be good--and so far, have been a pretty restrained shopper--I've seen a few items I love for the forthcoming season. It may technically be the last day of winter today but it's still cold in NYC although we were teased with a 70 degree Friday--a harbinger of coming attractions. If money were no object, these are some of the pieces I'd love to wear during the warmer days to come. Maybe if they are reduced, I'll have a chance at grabbing a couple of them.

This Suno dress seems to have been stocked pretty much everywhere--from Bird, to Saks, to Creatures of Comfort (so I'm hoping there is one left in my size come sale time). I'm really loving longer sleeved dresses right now and this looks like it would be a great spring find.

These Rachel Comey Chadwick shoes from Lamb's Ear are one of many beautiful pairs of shoes they have in stock (including the green A Detacher Didions that I think we all want). I'm not sure how comfortable these would be but they are worth looking at nonetheless. I love the heels and the play with Asian influences.

This Isabel Marant Ryan cardigan is already sold out at Metier so it has to remain a dream piece but oh, the wear I'd get out of this one if I could ever find it. I love the colors, the mixture of stitches and the fastening.

Another sold out piece that caught my eye was the Isabel Marant Lincoln shirt below. Granted, I have a lot of tops like this so it is probably the color that captured me (and the shoulder detailing). I think its probably a nicer fabric than the Tucker blouses but still $605 is way too much for a blouse.

More spring covets to come as I find them during breaks from writing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Helping Japan

While we were at our conference, Lisa and I watched in horror as we saw the videos of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I've heard that many charities may be collecting for Japan but are not going to earmark donations for that particular cause. For those of us who have yet to donate, Jennifer has a great post here. I also received a flyer in Union Square from a group of people who appeared to be from the Japan Society, who were also collecting money for Japan (and handed out beautiful little origami swans made from cherry blossom paper when you made a donation--my little guy is seated on a bookshelf). The flyers listed the info found on Click on one of the logos--for JCIE, Save the Children, Japan Society and to find donation sites--complete with lists of companies that match funds. As yet, NYU is not represented but I am hoping that will change.

J.Crew Update

On Monday, I wrote about the J. Crew bracelet I received that was a little too short. I wrote to the company and Mickey Drexler, received immediate responses and they are currently searching for the extra links required to make it fit. I was also told that I was not the only person to complain about this bracelet's short length. Once again, J. Crew's exemplary customer service comes through.

I tried on the other Lulu Frost bracelets after my Tuesday acupuncture appointment--they all fit fine. I think this one may have just run too small. I doubt I was sent a dud but that's also possible. I'm keeping my eye out for another one that has currently sold out online. They are so lovely, light weight and sparkly--and do not have the sharp edges that I've found on some J. Crew rhinestone bracelets.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Bachelor

A few years ago, at my friends Lisa and Jane's urging, I returned to watching The Bachelor--a franchise I'd long given up on as cheesy, unironic and dull (the casting of a turgid Italian "prince" just about summed up its sub-Harlequin romance gestalt). Maybe that season really deserved my contempt, but I soon realized the show had descended into a level of trash that made it delightful. Unlike most franchises, its deathly seriousness and its particular take on heteronormativity (say, pharmaceutical reps from suburban Texas, sales reps from rural Florida, account executives from Washington state whose dreams are of 2.4 kids, a labrador-like dog, two SUVs and a sub-mini mansion in some new development just outside San Diego--or a presenting job on a medium size cable network) both thrilled and estranged me in equal measure. Certainly, I realized the many ways in which I did not, would not and could not conform to this variant of the American dream--and found I was not alone in my fascination with this topic--Evan is also baffled and bemused by the show in various measures, I think I've got Ben and Brynn hooked for the same reasons, and I've found several kindred spirits in my celebrity class. Jane puts it far better than I ever could here.

I watched the three hour finale/After the Final Rose block last night (about 2 1/4 hours after fast-forwarding through commercials and previews of coming attractions/recaps of what we saw three minutes earlier). Again, I find myself adrift from what appears to be the privileged reading of the show's fans. Rather than rejoicing in the true romance of Emily and Brad's engagement, I was baffled at how someone with seemingly no personality (that would be Emily) and a back story shot to smithereens by the tabloids could capture America's heart. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but the vapidity on the screen couldn't even be manipulated to the level of sentimentality that usually characterizes such finales. Not for one minute should you assume that I think Brad is a catch--he's a seriously dull, verbally challenged, unimaginative, emotionally crippled and narcissistic 38 year old who only demonstrates RealitySteve's point that it doesn't matter who they cast as Bachelor(ette).The lack of suspense this time--this was the first season that the Bachelor reassured his final pick several times that she'd get a rose and that he loved her (words never before uttered until the proposal)--made me think that the show's editors/producers/writers just gave up on these bozos and decided not to bother gussying up this season.

Despite everybody's knowledge of the franchise's abysmal success rating, its production team usually manages to inject some credibility/romance/affect into its final weeks. Every time, I think that maybe this man/woman is in love with the three or four finalists, that this kind of emotion can be possible in this context, even as I know it's all fake. Such are this show's pleasures. But this time round, they clearly couldn't be bothered. As I retired to bed last night, I thought it over--Chantal was my favorite of the final two but the insulting and borderline cruel set of dates she was given indicated that the producers and possibly Brad were having a little too much fun torturing her. The fantasy overnight date in a bug-riddled tree house in the South African plains, replete with chamber pot rather than a toilet was the kicker and couldn't have broadcast any louder his absolute lack of interest in (his term) "this woman" aside from what was presented as a sordid sexual conquest on the side. Ashley H., America's next Bachelorette, was almost as vapid as Emily (at least in the edit she was given) and was one of the women I kept waiting to be voted off midway through the cycle (to borrow Tyra Banks' term). Poor Shawntel the funeral director was triply cursed--by her name, job and the way she was set up to be voted off on the hometown date after placing Brad on a gurney. Of course, this image made me think that her embalming table had likely had more animated occupants, but I'm sure that was the point--at least for the show's less reverent spectators. Then there was crazy Michelle, clearly there to advance her acting career and likely far less crazy--if as self-absorbed--as she appeared. Of course I'd love to see her get to the end and spoil everybody's fun, but after Vienna ruined Bachelor Jake's nice-guy rep (and his chance at a TV hosting or soap opera gig), there was no way the producers would let that one go ahead.

So, despite finding Ashley less than interesting, I am pleased to see this one end, although the final chapter--the inevitable break-up--is likely coming soon.


My Lulu Frost for J. Crew bracelet arrived last night. It is lovely--except for the length. I have many (too many) J. Crew bracelets but this one is different. It doesn't fit. It's just a smidge too small to fasten--even an extra 1/4 inch would work. I don't have large wrists so it probably only fits the smallest of women (or children). I'm toying with how it could be altered to add an extra link or two but, realistically, there is no way they should have made it this small. It's a lovely piece which only makes it all the more frustrating. I have written to J. Crew--I wonder what their response will be given that it is a sale piece.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sometimes it's all about the shoes

In the midst of the crowds, the work, the adrenaline, the networking and the reunions, conferences can seem overwhelming even if you love them, as I do. And sometimes, only shoes can do the talking. Even though they are pretty high, I wore my Chie Mihara heels for most of the conference--besides working better with my dresses than my Surface to Air flats, they also helped shave off the pounds I've packed on since Christmas. These are the shoes (picture borrowed from another blog as I'm at work).

I met several people through them as they came up to me and told me that they were the greatest shoes ever. While I would disagree, they are nice. They also demonstrate the power of an eye-catching accessory at conferences.


Conferences are exhausting! But so worthwhile. I will post more later--still so much to do that I left partially undone--but it is nice to be back home, even though the adrenaline and motivation to work hard is something I'm going to try and hold onto.

Besides presenting the paper, I also spoke with three publishers who are interested in various projects I'm working on, was asked to write two papers, spoke to friends about doing a panel for next year's conference and got to spend some quality time with dear friends like Lisa who I see way too infrequently. I also met some great new scholars and reconnected with many friends and colleagues. Overall, this one was a success even with the sleep deprivation and surfeit of very unhealthy foods.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


That is to say I have something that seems to be lucid and just about short enough to fill the 20 minutes. I usually find it difficult to cut a paper much below 11 pages, double spaced (in 12-point Times, just to be picky). This means I am always on the cusp of going over time, something that is not good. This year was no different. But I know how to talk my way through elements of a paper so I should be OK.

I just called the cab (5.15 am to JFK--something that makes me cringe). Thank you conference organizers for booking a conference in New Orleans starting the day after Mardi Gras so that all the flights are expensive and were almost fully booked--even in December. I should arrive about an hour or two before I can check into my room and as I present the same day, I'm sure I'll look as delightful as I will feel.

I think I have packed everything. I've selected my flight/possible conference paper outfit--Rag & Bone Victorian plaid shirt, charcoal Rag & Bone skinny pants, fuchsia suede Chie Mihara heels, black cashmere round neck Inhabit sweater and Lyell little girl black swing peacoat, with my indigo Billie bag.

My ipods are charged, as is my phone. Chargers are in my bag. I burned several films from the dvr to dvd (it's Jean Harlow month on TCM and there are lots of fab pre-codes to boot--including Bed of Roses with Constance Bennett so the dvr will be working overtime). Now all I have to do is shower, clean the cat boxes and then leave the house and cats in Evan's capable hands for the next few days.

One Victory

No, I haven't finished editing down my conference paper. I've reached that stage where every sentence either appears to be fundamentally dislocated from the last or reiterating the same point--which tells me I am just too close to the paper for it to make sense. Alas, I don't have the time to wait and reread as I will have presented the paper by tomorrow.

My victory may be my Achilles' heel. As I was checking the J.Crew 30% off sale items I found one of the Lulu Frost bracelets I liked on markdown, with 30% off and free shipping. I got one. There were two I liked and there is a third in the store (which never appeared online and may not be reduced--if it is, I won't have a chance to look for some time). So I got it. I know it is bad but given that we're now 9 days into the month, I lasted a little longer than most months. And it is an accessory. And I have run out of excuses at this point.

Back to work.


Today I finally decided I had to have that Isabel Marant Solal top. Alas, someone else had the same idea and it has now sold out. I suppose it's not a disaster but still. I had worked out that it would add wardrobe value, I'd been patient, I had even compared the costs to other designers (like Rachel Comey) and this one came out ahead in terms of work, value and prettiness. I guess I will just have to wait and see if it appears on ebay or on some other obscure website. But given IM's craziness about ecommerce, this is probably it.

I know there will always be something else to covet but this one really does hurt a bit. I guess the pain will fade pretty quickly, however.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Barney's Warehouse Sale

After class on Friday, I met Evan at the Barney's Warehouse sale. Final markdowns were in place by that point--and for several seasons now I've found something that was a steal. Last year it was Philip Lim and Jeffrey Monteiro dresses for a total of $150. In the summer I got an Acne plaid shirt that I love for $22. This time round, I went in with an open mind and came out empty handed. Other than a few pairs of nice but really high Lanvin heels (around $150 each), the garments looked like rags. It didn't take me long to realize that I wasn't going to find anything. As I wandered around with the pretty but too high Lanvin heels in my hands, I thought about the Rachel Comey boots and the Marant blouse--and realized that I probably would like them more. Even the Lanvin shoe boxes are delicious--like powder blue cake boxes with navy tissue paper. But I have a closet full of bargains that I can't wear so passing made me feel quite good.

Evan only did marginally better, getting a cheap shirt and t-shirt. Evidently the men's stock was equally limited and shopworn.

I'm proud that I resisted "bargains." I've got the money still and didn't end up with more clutter that seemed like it was an irresistible deal at the time.

That Isabel Marant Blouse

I was chatting to my Mum today about how I'm trying to reign in my spending. Mum is very sensible with money and certainly would be horrified if she saw all my clothing, but she told me that I could have the occasional treats. I know she means this differently from me--in all likelihood, she was thinking about the odd movie or lunch with friends, not a designer blouse.

But despite being good, the Isabel Marant blouse and those Rachel Comey boots still haunt me. I wish I could try both on--there is a chance neither will fit comfortably. But I like both of them and still think about them. I first posted about the boots months ago and still like them. That said, I've realized that long days in class on my feet, subway steps and Manhattan streets often don't mesh well with heels.

I will be away for the latter part of next week so maybe I'll rethink the matter on Wednesday--if, that is, I get my conference paper down to a manageable length. It's now down to a shade over 15 pages from 26, but I've cut all the obvious parts and have to reduce it by around another 6 pages--something that will take more than sentence level edits/condensation. I know it has to be shorter or else my panel chair will be irate with me for taking more than my share of time. And as that panel chair is me, I better behave. After all, there may be a blouse--or boots--at stake. Or, if nothing else, a treat of some kind--be it a good, service or comestible.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I'm currently mired in trying to finish a conference paper. Usually, I cut down a longer work (or start from scratch) knowing that if I get the argument, analysis and supporting materials together, I can always expand from there later on. Normally the plan is to publish but somewhere teaching, grading and the book writing mean that this expansion to article length escapes me. Where I have expanded papers, it has been because I've been asked to submit them for some anthology or other, or have decided that it's finally time to do something with a piece of work that I left for later. The turnaround time for the first is usually minimal, the latter has taken me as long as seven years...

So, my vow this time was to do things differently. Take that chunk of a chapter that I cut out, edit it to article length (around 25 pages) then cut down to conference paper length (9 pages or so). Of course, this means I'm sitting here on Saturday with a 27 page paper covered in editing marks that I need to cut to 9 by tomorrow (presenting on Thursday in New Orleans and as I teach this week and have grading, I can't really  expand any longer).

Not only are there distractions from work but from the interwebs. It emerges that Charlie Sheen is going to do another one of his online things tonight--can I spare the time? Can I not spare the time, especially as I will at some point write that celebrity book and this media craziness will be part of a chapter someday.