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!


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


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


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


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.


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


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.