Friday, July 29, 2011

J Crew Delivery

My J Crew items just came--at long last--and I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with the orders. The shorts fit perfectly (which is a shame in a way as I went up a size but hopefully I will get back down to my fighting weight soon). I desperately need shorts, especially in this heat, even as this pair looked so large in their bag that I regret the cranberry corn scone I ate at the farmer's' market today (I'm guessing it was 500 calories) but I was hungry after a long morning at work.

The t-shirts are great (I got the Medium and could have even sized down, which made me feel good even if it just testified to vanity sizing), soft and well fitting. I'm particularly fond of the rust/blue striped colorway. The big hit is the striped sweater. I went up to a L to ensure the drapey look on the model and have to say it's fantastic. The cotton is light enough to wear on most summer days and it is as good as I hoped it would be on. My only doubts had come from the ready availability of this top in all colorways and sizes. I just think it speaks to the breadth of J Crew's customer base--I may not be looking for some of the preppy classics that many of the brand's fans love.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Another Dress

That is, another dress that doesn't really fit me any more. This morning I decided to wear my blue cotton JM dress to lunch with my friend Diane. She lives in Ireland and I don't get to see enough of her so I wanted to wear something nice. Only the dress that was a little large on me a year ago is a little too snug today. Earlier this week, an old summer stalwart--a white woven cotton DVF sample--was a little tight (again, it was always on the loose side).

So, I'm contemplating the Dukan Diet. First, I'm going to try to up the amount of salads and veg in my diet, especially as it is summer. I'm going to try to eat more fish and follow the mantra of filling up on vegetables. My friend Brittan makes it look easy (and yummy). But if that doesn't work (bear in mind I am taking a minimum of two zumba, one boot camp class that includes dance and two pilates classes a week), I'm going to have to look at some kind of actual diet plan for the first time in my life.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Time Crisis

It hardly seems possible that we are now 2/3 of the way through the summer break (I'd call it vacation but it isn't--far from it). In a month, I will likely be copying syllabi, setting up Blackboard accounts and dealing with student queries about classes, readings and admittance full courses. It's time to set up a firm schedule for the next few weeks while most of my goals are still within the realm of possibility.

First--the book proposal for book #2. A book proposal involves a prospectus, chapter breakdowns for each chapter, sample chapter and cover letter. I currently have a very long and somewhat dated prospectus that with a bit of tweaking may even constitute the prospectus and the introduction to the book, although some of the chapter summaries are way too short and some of the substance of the book has changed since I wrote this document some time ago. I have 80+ pages of a chapter--which is still unfinished. It will likely get much longer before I cut it to 45 pages or so but I'm not worried about that. Such is the way of writing, at least for me. Realistically, I can do this. I'm hoping to have the chapter in pretty decent form by August 1 (just typed April... wishful thinking!) and then spend a week on the proposal, another few days editing the chapter and have this baby off to the press by August 12.

Project number two is to finish two of the articles (one on polygamy and playgirls, the other on early film stardom) that I was editing and fiddling with at the end of the semester. I hope I can spend three days on one and a week on another and those can be submitted to a couple of journals.

Project three--write the book proposal for book #3 on celebrity. Palgrave sent me a form and this is doable (especially as they really want the book). As the sample chapter is the early film paper I mentioned above, this should be doable--even if it goes down to the wire.

There are three or four other papers I wanted to work on but those will have to be dealt with in the early parts of the semester when time is not so crunched. Once grading starts floating in, forget it.

As for my other goals, I have lost and piled back on the same 5lbs. I've got to tackle my carb-loving nature. Evan and I actually had salad the other night and it was really good--I mixed organic spring greens, a little cilantro, radishes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, walnuts, hot smoked salmon (the stuff that isn't flat but more like a fillet of the fish) with balsamic dressing and it was really filling. If I can eat more like that and have less carbs (I suggested bread with the meal and Evan said we didn't need it), then maybe I can get back into the clothes that are now so tight.

Another goal is to clean up my closets and save some money. This week, not so hot--I bought several items from J. Crew's sale and, while I need them, I haven't seriously tackled the mound of clothing I need to photograph and post here for sale--and sort out the pieces I should turn into rags or donate to charity.

So, I have my schedule. Will I accomplish all of this? Likely not but at this point, there is still a good chance if I buckle down to work. I changed my Thursday acupuncture appointment to earlier in the day and hopefully that will help me get more done.

Monday, July 25, 2011


I recently got to a point where I realized I'd worn through the soles of two of my most comfortable pairs of sandals. Had I realized how worn they were, I'd have taken them in earlier to be repaired but because they are flats, the signs of wear you get from heeled shoes weren't visible. Future tip, if the soles of my shoes start bending back when they hit a cobblestone or raised paving slab, then the shoes are in dire need of a new sole. I did buy the Madewell sandals I'd liked but they seem to be the kind that will take some breaking in and may not be comfortable until next summer. Similarly, my Mayle clogs may not be the best for my feet.

When I went to England, I was in a tricky situation. Literally the only summer shoes I had that were comfortable and not in tatters were my strappy Surface to Air wedges--which were in dire need of a new heel and sole (thanks to Dad, that was accomplished at a small cobbler in Dersingham) and my green Mayle flats, which got soaked a couple of times and didn't work with all outfits.

As I got a train to Glasgow the night before my conference, mistakenly assuming the first panel was in the morning not at 4.30 p.m., I had time to browse the city and its stores. I came across the following pair of shoes marked down from £65 to £30 in Office. They were amazingly comfortable although I did have to size up and would work with dresses, pants, without tights and with. So I bought them and wore them for the rest of the conference.

Indeed these were so comfortable and answered a couple of needs (pretty mid-heeled shoes, something to wear with cropped pants, something Oxford like that didn't make my feet look huge) that I went back and got another pair in black on my way back. That pair are still at home in the UK, but the other ones are proving invaluable here. They are well made, relatively cheap and have stopped me from buying other, still overpriced pairs of shoes online. After all, the percentage of shoes that we buy that none of us can ever wear because they turn out to be horribly uncomfortable makes shoes the worst item to buy. The rare pair that is comfortable and pretty always turns out to be the pair you wish you'd bought in duplicate. I got two pairs of the Devotte sandals I'm probably going to have to toss and my only regret is that I didn't get four.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Today, gay marriage is legal in NYC. Congratulations to all the happy couples who have waited so long for this special day.

J Crew Sale

I've been really good about spending recently--largely because I am trying to declutter and discipline myself. I did allow myself a J. Crew mini-splurge, however, as they currently have 40% off sale items and free shipping (on all sale orders). Most of what I bought were items I'd already considered buying and will be decent staples. Alas, I checked the sale late and most of the items I'd sought--mainly cashmere sweaters and cardigans--were long gone. Here's what I bought.

I got both these shorts (sans belt) and the t-shirt. I won't be wearing them together as in this picture. I realized I needed shorts in this heatwave and for $23, these couldn't be beat. I liked the t-shirt when it was on sale for $19 and liked it even more at 8. So much so, I got it in the other colorway:

I also bought a gingham shirt in violet (I could wear this in hot weather and layer in the spring/fall). Again, it was around $24.

I found the shirt and the ts by searching by size and suspect they may not ship as they were hidden items and may have sold out. If so, it isn't a huge deal but they do seem like good staples.

I got the following sweater in a larger size (to ensure it drapes I got the L). I've had it in my cart forever and wish I'd realized that shipping was free as I lost a cashmere cardi that I'd have also worn thinking I had to have $150 to get free shipping. This cost around $25 and will be something I will wear. Again, I realize just how much I love stripes...

My other sale splurge was workout gear from the gap--again it hasn't shipped (40% off three hour only promo so I got some capri leggings and sports bra tops that never go on sale). I have a feeling that it's another order that will be canceled, and it is one I need. I work out often enough that I really need to have more pants and bra tops but am cheap enough not to want to spend a fortune.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It Must Be the Heat

Today is 100 degrees and I'm having some flashbacks to brutal heat waves of summers past. Summer is work time--the only time we academics get to do what we're really paid to do, which is research, write and publish. Teaching may take up our time but few institutions really value it, even as we spend a good majority of our time in the classroom, preparing to teach, grading work or other instruction-related activities like meeting with students, responding to emails, writing letters of recommendation etc.

Of course, summer is also the most brutal time of year to get anything done--at least for those folks like me who don't have central air and don't live particularly near campus. This heat may in part excuse two of the most stupid mistakes I've made in writing this book. Last summer, in the height of the heatwave, I spent a week slowly going over one of the central films for the chapter I'm currently writing, taking meticulous notes (in a very long file). It was not comfortable work as I had to be at home near my dvd player as my laptop screen isn't big enough to play discs and have open files. One afternoon I had a brainwave about another very minor film that might at best be a footnote--opened the file--added the notes and then realized that the file was wrongly named. I waved away the prompt asking me if I was sure, and then had a horrid epiphany. I had just overwritten my file on Valley of the Dolls by accident--a move that totally destroyed my momentum to finish the chapter as this was the film I was about to discuss. I am usually very good about saving everything to dropbox, emailing myself copies of files, and backing up to my portable hard drive but this file was completely gone because I'd just bought a new computer and was feeling complacent. Stupid, stupid girl--I should have remembered all the friends who'd had similar experiences, mainly with new machines.

Roll onto this summer. This afternoon I decided to print out the rather large 60+ page chapter draft from last summer, merged with some relevant material from my recent conference paper. I was surprised to find that I only had 15 pages. I checked all the versions on my laptop and all were the same. Fortunately, I remember emailing a copy to a dear friend, located the email where I'd referred to something I'd said on p. 47. Sure enough, I'd edited an old copy of the chapter and managed to delete/overwrite about 50 pages of text... At least I'd been a little less complacent about saving/duplicating work, although my dropbox version of the chapter was (sure enough) the older one.

It's just as well that I planned to upgrade to OS Lion, which reportedly does what the time machine function does (when you use it...). It stores earlier versions of files so overwriting isn't so much of a problem. I think this is a must for me, especially when most of my intensive writing seems to take place during these dog days of summer in a not-too-well air-conditioned bedroom.

I also managed to print the old version of the chapter about three times before realizing that I need to rename this sucker and move onto finishing it by the end of the first week of August so I can get the whole proposal to the press and move onto finishing some articles.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Heat

We're right in the midst of a heatwave here in NYC (and, from what I've heard, most of the US). When your skin is as fair as mine, dresses that cover the shoulders and the upper arm are a must to avoid sunburn, particularly given the destructive effects of humidity on sunblock. Given my resolve not to buy a dress until the end of the month (a vow that I've kept despite missing out on a coveted Rachel Comey frock on deep markdown), I've had to dig deep into my closet.

Here, however, I've had some pleasant surprises. I've found three dresses that fit my bill--cotton, short sleeves and loose enough to withstand extreme heat. I'm not saying I forgot about these dresses, nor that they somehow vanished amidst my overstuffed closet, but rather I tended to overlook them or had pigeonholed them for alternate uses/seasons/life stages.

Today, I'm wearing one of the Uniqlo Phillip Lim dresses that I stood in line for back in May 2007 (I can't believe it was that long ago). It's a plaid school girl-ish dress in cotton that was just under $50 and, like most of their early design collaborations, is far better made than subsequent lines. I think I'd decided to reserve this one for cooler days with dark tights and then it just became victim to being an older and cheaper dress. But it's actually quite delightful and has held up well with age.

Yesterday I wore my Lyell red dress. I remember that there were production issues with the fabric and dye in this one, and somehow when I got it I remember thinking it was a bit costumey as well as a little long. I still think it is longer than I'd like, but it is soft, bright and relatively cool for a dress with a fitted waist. So back in the rotation it goes. This dress is like new as I think I only wore it twice. It's even older than the dress above, being a piece of the only partly produced Summer 2006 collection.

The third item has the least design credentials. It's a cotton trapeze H&M dress in an orange and white floral pattern that was heavily inspired by one of the Chloe collections. Ironically, it's probably my favorite of the lot. It has pockets, cap sleeves, and is in a lovely 60s style print in a perfect crisp cotton. I have no picture of this one as yet.

Now the challenge is to survive the next few days. No dress can aptly deal with this level of heat as the high 90s are on the horizon but at least I'm doing well enough without splurging on something new this month.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Catching Up

Three and half weeks away has meant several things, not least 5 lbs weight gain and a loss in muscle strength. I went back to zumba and pilates this weekend and boy did I feel the pain in my abs. I also noted a distinct lack of coordination with zumba, which meant I got less of a workout. I did take some consolation in the fact that it was my abs (and to a lesser extent butt and thighs) that hurt after pilates, which meant I was doing the exercises right--and, as for zumba, it was a new routine so that meant I could hide behind an excuse of not knowing what I was doing. But I still notice the pounds and the weakness--although I walked a lot at home and went swimming, it wasn't the same.

I've nearly balanced my sleep schedule into something workable--not waking up at 4 and falling asleep at 8, but 6.30-10. I can live with that and want to maintain something of that order as long as possible. The plan is to write like crazy in the mornings and afternoons, then go to yoga/zumba/pilates, then eat, rest, sleep. Again, possibly easier said than done.

I'm going to try to be organized. My mid-summer's resolutions are to cook more at home, using the fresh produce available at the farmers' markets and Whole Foods, cut out the chocolate/cookies and pastries I too easily consumed while home, work hard, spend less, and clean out clutter and closets.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back in NYC

What a trip! I can't quite believe I'm not in England (and my body can't either--I got up at 4.30 am). I've come back with a renewed sense of purpose and resolve but I have to give myself a day or so to recover from a late flight. I left London at 8 p.m. yesterday and got back here at 10.35 p.m. or so (I think the plane was late). Even though I got a cab (I'm usually cheap enough to use public transport), I still wasn't in much before 11.30 p.m. or, as my body knows it, 4.30 a.m. BST.

I like to ration out jet lag this end, eaking out each extra hour over the course of a week or two. It may be 12.37 here but I feel it is every bit of 5.37 p.m. I've really not done much today but starting tomorrow, those extra hours will be devoted to work or chores like cleaning up and going through my closet.

Which gets me to another point. After much thought, I've realized that some of my more coveted and rare Mayle dresses just aren't ones I wear. So I'll be posting some pictures in the next few days of dresses I'll be selling. Some are unworn (Josie romper in black silk, Katia dress), others worn once or twice. Once I've recharged my camera batteries--and my own batteries--I'll be listing some of them here. Some of the rarer items I may post on ebay.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More Pictures

I'm having another great, relaxing day with the folks. Shopping in the morning (Mum and Dad, not me), coffee then lunch out, followed by a brief drive out into the country and now we're back sitting in the sun. I could get used to this--tomorrow, I'll meet with friends and do some work. Interesting things are going on with the press, with phone hacking, and issues of privacy/freedom of speech right now, as well as questions of media ownership as Murdoch is at the heart of it all.

Nothing like blogging in the garden, in the sun, while listening to Radio 4.

Here's Mum doing one of her favourite things--gardening (talking and laughing are also up there).

Poppies! Lots of them!

The Vyne--from day 3 of the holiday and my National Trust jaunt with Sue.

And some flowers from their garden.

Vyne hens.

And these are their names.

Home. Where I am right now.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Some Pictures

Having uploaded my photos, I thought I'd share a few from the first part of my trip. Here they are.

Here's Dad in the garden this afternoon. We've been having pretty perfect weather--70s, sunny, warm and little humidity. Here's some from Glasgow.

Not a very good picture--I took this one near the conference after a very long train journey and a rather short night's sleep.

Here's some Charles Rennie Macintosh ironwork at one of his buildings off Princes Street, now turned into a rather small, semi-upmarket and pretty shopping mall. They had a Cos--the upmarket H&M--which had some lovely things but I am on a vow of austerity and refused to buy.

Some of the lovely scenery from Glasgow's West End, the University's neighbourhood.

Breakfast for one at the beautiful Palace of Solitude in London. As you can see, I ate it all up (wholewheat toast, green tea and an organic orange).

I think this young pig would have eaten breakfast for me if I'd let him. He lives in the Imperial War Museum.

And here's my great-grandfather's listing as one of the victims of the Blitz in the same Museum. The house imploded when a bomb was dropped on it--I remember my grandmother telling me about it but it was only years later I realised that the story was real.

Here's Mollie, my brother and sister-in-law's cat. She's fluffy, pretty and super aggressive. Don't let that furry face fool you--she's an attack cat who will rip a hole in your skin if you try to touch her.

My dad's birthday--my brother had us around for dinner. It was in the 80s and sunny so we ate outside. It was a perfect day with the most lovely people.

Here's what I wore that day--my current favourite Rachel Comey dress and my Surface to Air strappy wedges.

And here's a scene from their garden. More to follow.

Conference Report

I have to say that I had one of the most enjoyable conferences yet. It's been a decade since I went to Glasgow so it was almost like going to a new city and I got a chance to look around before spending my time immersed in Cinema and TV studies.

The papers were generally very strong, I got to see some old friends and make some new ones. I also got to hang out with my fellow panelists from the US who were all lovely people (as well as giving great papers). One of them is one of my all-time favourite scholars and the paper she delivered was so beautiful, elegant and smart that it was a model of the best kind of scholarship. I had no email access which was actually rather nice--time to read, talk and engage with others. Plus the sun shone, which was evidently a first for Glasgow this summer. I look forward to going back next year and hope to see the same folks again.