Four Eyes

Ever since I was a kid, I have longed for glasses. I don’t know why. Both of my parents were practically blind without the aid of some serious ocular assistance, and somehow I managed to escape the same fate at every yearly eye exam growing up. Much to my dismay, I might add. It bummed me out every time the doctor said my vision was perfect. My vision was so perfect, actually, that it was better than 20/20. How I ended up walking into so many walls or leaving the house in tartan bell-bottoms in high school, then, remains a mystery. Still, I wanted glasses. I bought a fake pair of readers at Claire’s in the mall when I was 14 and used to wear them in the same vain hope with which I wore bras all those years: maybe if I wear them, I will actually end up needing them.

And while the verdict is still out on the issue of boobs, one thing became certain last night at my optometrist’s office: I officially need glasses. She broke the news to me gently, afraid I would revolt at the idea of surviving 25 years without them only to be riddled with poor vision later in life, and insisted I only needed them for reading/sitting in front of a computer, but I was all, MY DREAMS HAVE COME TRUE! And then I pulled the neckline of my shirt out and said to my chest, “YOU GUYS BETTER BE NEXT.”

These days, those of us who are visually-challenged (are there support groups for people like us?) have far better and more stylish options than say, my dad, who was born before 1940 and who probably had to use a monocle as a child. And the monocle was probably 4 inches thick. No, these days, we have Warby Parker, the genius site that offers $95 prescription glasses in all sorts of retro, Mad-Men-ish frames, and who donate a pair to someone in need for every pair they sell. Not only will I get glasses, I’ll also get that do-goodery feeling that accompanies acts of charity. Win-win.

After playing around for hours with their virtual try-on option, I narrowed my selection down to these 3 frames:

Thatcher / Roosevelt / Digby

Obviously, they all look amazing on me. It’s like I was born to wear glasses, you guys. You can have up to 5 pairs sent to you for free to try on at home, and I chose these 3 (it’s not that I can’t count, it’s just that when faced with too many options, I can’t cope). And yes, mom, before you point it out, I realize that the Digby’s are men’s frames, but clearly that just means my facial structure is so perfect that it transcends gender. Wait.

ANYWAY, now I’d love to know your opinion on these frames, you guys. Which of the three do you prefer? I realize it’s hard to judge without seeing them on me, but until they get here I am not going to post the webcam-shot I used to do the virtual try-on through the site, because I’m 10 different kinds of unkempt in it.

So now all I have to do is wait for these bad boys to get here, make my selection, and then spend eternity checking myself out in mirrors and pretending to be taken aback by how geek-chic I look.

Polka Dots

I like to pretend that I am refined enough in my design sensibilities to be unaffected by something as pedestrian and juvenile as polka dots. I like vintage inspired pieces that tend to border on shabby chic. I like sleek, all white, Scandinavian interiors, with minimalist furniture and natural woods. I am mature. But seriously, sometimes I see polka dots and become a dog chasing a laser beam and my brain just explodes with rainbows and giggles and I can’t focus on anything else besides how gosh-darn cute polka dots really are. There are even times when I will pour nonpareil sprinkles into my mouth because there isn’t any real candy in my house. And don’t even get me started on candy buttons, even though the candy to paper ratio you end up ingesting isn’t ideal.

But anyway, polka dots. They’re adorable, they’re cheery. I mean, have you taken time to appreciate polka dots recently? I mean really appreciate them? And not just because they happened to be on your underwear or socks? No? Well let’s start off high-brow then, shall we?

This was the inspiration for this post. Artist Damien Hirst (and his assistants) have painted over 300 of these spot paintings, and this coming winter they will all be shown in a touring exhibition in several galleries around the world. You can buy one of these when they go on sale through London galleries, if you happen to have a cool $75K laying around. Ahem.

However, if you like rainbow polka dots and want to integrate them into your life (I do! I do!), here are a few (cheaper) ways to do it:

 

1. Umbrella, Amazon / 2. Bowl, Fishs Eddy / 3. Plate, Fishs Eddy / 4. Kisslock coin purse, Etsy / 5. Spice Jars, Fishs Eddy / 6. Straws, Sweet Lulu / 7. Japanese Washi Tape, CuteTape / 8. Glasses, Fishs Eddy / 9. & 10. Teapot & Teacup, Cath Kidston

You’ll notice that Fishs Eddy has a lot of polka dot products. It’s not that I’m a lazy blogger, but when life offers you that many products with polka dots, you include them. And if you want proof of my restraint, there was actually a really cute polka dot tea towel that I decided not to include. So there!

This morning I’m hitting up Target with two of my lovely coworkers to browse (JUST BROWSE) the new Missoni collection before we head into work. It’s a tough life.

Laduree & Lidia

Laduree & Lidia. Lidia & Laduree. I was a half a step away from continuing that alliteration and including “lovely” and “luscious.” I’ll let you figure out which adjective goes with which. Yay, games!

Sometimes, when you’re dealing with something beautiful (in this case, food), words are completely unnecessary. This explains why people are so often rendered speechless by the mere sight of my face, and why I can’t have mirrors in my house (this is a burden, you guys). So here are some photographs from last Thursday’s adventures with macaroons and delicious Italian cooking, with limited interruption from my giant mouth (except, obviously, when it comes to licking my screen).

When I die, I want to my otherwordly self to be sent here. After I’m finished haunting all those who have wronged me or withheld macaroons from me in this life. (Maybe it is time to rethink your whole, “You don’t need to buy the box of 30,” stance, boyfriend.)

She’s making this face because I had just asked if she thought I possess any discernable culinary talent worthy of more than concealed laughter and nausea.

And now, the meal, where I tried to capture each dish before I started eating it, but was not always successful. Sorry, it was just too delicious:

SO. Eataly. I’d been there once before, but just to eat a panini and have a glass of wine and a cup of gelato (just). And walk around and admire all of the imported olive oils and smell the fresh-baked bread. Getting to go back again and experience a whole different side of it was a real treat. The little school is a private kitchen with maybe 10, 2-seater, marble-topped tables (which I have been trying to hunt down ever since, because I need one in my house) and a curved island with a cooktop and prep area in one corner. Lidia, who is exactly as cute and sweet in person as you’d expect her to be, wanted us to call out any questions we had about anything, whether or not it was related to what she was doing at that exact moment. I got her take on de-bearding mussels, and boyfriend got a history of the spice trade in northern Italy and why Italians don’t use pepper traditionally. I learned it is perfectly okay to leave mozzarella on the counter instead of in the fridge, and that I really, really like Prosecco. The sommelier of Eataly paired a wine with each of the courses and gave us a history of the grape varietal and how to match wines with certain foods. Turns out, unsurprisingly, my palate is woefully ignorant to anything other than sweet whites.

We were each given an official Eataly folder that contained the menu du jour, all of the recipes from the class (HA, as if I will ever be able to recreate the magnificence that Lidia prepared for us), as well as wine tasting notes. We also were given the opportunity to have Lidia sign our cookbooks and take a picture with her. Hello, Christmas! And I totally got my moment to call out boyfriend for having a massive crush on her. YOU’RE WELCOME, dude.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a beer on the amazing roof-top beer garden while we waited for our bus home and so we could indulge in our high from the afternoon.

And while at the bar, a woman came up to me and asked if my Laduree bag was from the city. I told her it was, and you should have seen this woman’s face light up. I imagine it was exactly what I looked like when I found out they were opening in the states, only my hair has never been able to achieve the level of shine that this woman’s did. But that might have had less to do with macaroons and more to do with her superior grooming habits. Anyway, this totally validated all of the spazzing I did about Laduree and how much I stressed making the trip uptown for these macaroons to boyfriend, who ridiculed that anyone would spend $3 on something bite-sized and kept saying that it couldn’t be that hard to make them, he could totally make them, and are you really going to keep cuddling that bag all day? And then we got home and he tried one and then it was all, “OH. Oh, those are delicious.”

So yeah. You could say it was a good day all around. Understatement of the century.

Also, I love my little point and shoot, but all of the time I have spend adjusting the levels in Photoshop after taking them off my camera makes me wish I had a good DSLR again. I’m getting dangerously close to buying this like I’ve been talking about for months. What? You think I could go an entire post and not mention something I wanted to buy? Whose blog do you think you’re reading?

Friday Five

Hi! I want to start by saying that I’m seriously impressed that I can articulate a thought outside of “ohmygodohmygodmacaroonsmacaroonsohmygod”  and “ohmygodohmygodLidiaLidiaLidiaohmygod” after yesterday. I think I can safely rank yesterday as one of the best days of my entire life, from start to finish. I mean, really, what isn’t to love about getting a day off work to traipse around Manhattan, walking around the gorgeous public library, eating macaroons imported from France, having drink at my very, very favorite bar in the city, having a 4 course meal (& wine pairings) prepared by a famous chef, and then coming back home to a puppy who is beyond ecstatic to see you? I have so much to tell you about Laduree and the Lidia experience, but I’ll wait until Monday for all of the pictures and details (there are lots of both). Don’t worry, I’ll still give you a sneak peak at the action below. I am benevolent like that.

Also, another lovely side-effect of having a Thursday off work is that I only have to wait one day before the weekend arrives. I’m pretty sure this has spoiled me for all future work weeks in the same way that Lidia has spoiled all food not prepared by her for me, and the same way Laduree has spoiled all desserts that are not French macaroons for me. White. People. Problems. Actually, speaking of WPP, my darling friend and ex-roomie Lyndsey provided me with perhaps the most amazing WPP of all time, in reference to her recent drive down the east coast: “I was so frustrated because NPR kept going in and out!” That might trump every other WPP, ever.

Anyway, here are 5 things I’m digging this week:

The New York Public Library, main branch

I’d walked by the main branch by Bryant Park the last time I was in the city, but unfortunately, the last time I was in the city was Memorial Day weekend, and naturally the library was closed. It was on my to-do list this morning, and boy am I glad I got to see it. It is a massive and beautiful building that is seemingly all marble and dark, carved wood inside. The ceilings are cavernous and gilded and hand-painted, and now I totally understand why Carrie wanted to marry Big here. I love libraries. They always smell so good. Oh, and there’s books. I like them because of the books, too.

Macaroons, from Laduree

Have I mentioned yet that I went to the new Laduree in New York? Or that I was really, really excited about it? How silly of me, I thought I already shared that with you. Allow me to fill you in: YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS. YOU GUYS. These macaroons. They are, and I’m straining to say this politely, an orgasm in your mouth. I know I should be all delicate with them because they cost just under $3 a piece and are not something I can easily go buy more of, but something happened to me when I opened the box, and it wasn’t pretty. I lost all ability to keep my saliva inside my mouth and my clothes spontaneously came off. I might have growled while eating them. From lower left, we have 2 pistachio, 2 rose, a vanilla at the top of the row and a vanilla at the bottom of the 2nd row, caramel with salted butter (OMG WHY DID I ONLY BUY ONE?!), 2 blackcurrant violet, a green apple, a raspberry, a coffee, a lemon, a coconut, and finally a strawberry & mint. I also bought the world’s most expensive carrier bag so I can take my lunch to work and look like a total snob. Horray! More pictures on Monday.

LIDIA, at Eataly

Here, the woman who gives me a flicker of hope that my ability to cook exists is explaining the kind of saute pans she prefers to use. Isn’t she adorable? If you’ve ever watched her show on PBS (and if you haven’t, WTF!) then you definitely get the sense that she is a genuine sweetheart whose passion for food and travel is inspiring. She is so knowledgable, and such a good chef. Really, this might have been one of the most expensive meals I’ve ever had in my life, but it was worth every penny. Again, waaay more pictures to follow on Monday. I have so much to show you!

“A Beautiful Death,” by Jack Crossing

Jack Crossing is a British graphic designer with a really interesting and unique portfolio of work. I stumbled across this bird on a tumblr somewhere without any credit to the image’s creator. Thanks to the (crazy and futuristic!) invention of reverse image search, I was able to track it down. Now I just wish he had a print of this available for sale. Something about it is so haunting and dear. From Jack: “This was a piece I put together last year for a project called RVLR, where a selection of designers, artists, and illustrators were all given the same images and asked to create a new piece of art work.” From me: I really love this image.

Alphabet totes

I bought one of these, with a giant E on it, a few years ago from Urban Outfitters (at an insane mark-up now that I look at it). It has been my go-to bag ever since. Sure, I have a ton of bags and purses, but this tote seems to go with everything, and has held up well to being beaten up over the years. It could use a good washing, but I’m trying to use that as an excuse to buy a brand new one. They have them in a few different color combinations, but my heart is still with the natural & black combo. Really, as far as canvas tote bags go, this is high quality and durable. Plus, I’m a narcissist at heart, so I’m obsessed with my own initial.

This weekend I am hoping to catch up on my sleep and lick the inside of the Laduree box for any crumbs that might have escaped my grasp the first go-around. And, you know, I’ll probably spend the weekend being talked-down from going back to New York to get more. Or to stalk Lidia and make her live with me. What are your hot weekend plans?

Enjoy, kiddos!

Inspiration: Kitchens

Right now I am en route to New York via the ever-so-cheap and convenient Bolt Bus, set to arrive in Manhattan at 10am. You might recall that I had made plans to attend a cooking class with Lidia Bastianich last week, but thanks to the arrival of a very annoying rain cloud named Irene, the class was postponed. To today. So this afternoon at 2:30 I will be sitting in the back of Eataly in a small private classroom (with carrera marble counters, swoon) mere feet from everyone’s favorite Italian grandma, while she prepares a 4 course meal and provides a wine pairing for each one. Hopefully, through sheer osmosis, I will be able to pick up some of her skills and talents with food, because, at present and when left to my own devices, I am incompetent at any task more advanced than boiling water (wait, that’s a lie. I can make homemade pasta. Which sounds impressive, but is easier than boiling water). Also, I am going to attempt to strap boyfriend to his chair to prevent him from lunging at Lidia and planting kisses all over her plump cheeks. (Forreals, dude? You couldn’t crush on someone more like Gisele? I’m curious as to what this says about me.)

But I will still have a few hours to kill both before and after the class, and my plan is to hightail it to the new Laduree on Madison Avenue and blow my entire paycheck on macaroons and pastel colored packaging. Horray! Don’t understand why I’m so excited? Take a look at these pictures:

from New York Magazine

Still not convinced? Well, the macaroons are over-nighted FROM FRANCE every day, and served only by actual French people. Again, let me repeat here one more time with feeling, you could serve me dead bugs and if it came from the hands of a Frenchman, I’d be so honored I’d probably cry.

from Park & Cube

With flavors like Pistachio, Rose, Blackcurrant Violet, (and did I mention THEY’RE IMPORTED FROM FRANCE?), how is your mouth not watering? I’ve talked about them this much already and I will probably still mention them in tomorrow’s Friday Five. You never know! Well, actually, you probably do, who am I fooling.

Anyway, since today I am learning to cook (kind of), I thought I’d share some beautiful kitchens for a little dose of Thursday inspiration:

 

from here

I know I’ve featured this kitchen before, but I still cannot get over how perfect it is. Painted white brick! Old stools! Chalkboard wall! My brain is pulling a Fitz and just ceasing to understand.

from here

Metal counters, subway tile, and an old French street sign? Can I get an “amen.”


from Living Etc.

I’m in love with subway tile. And farmer sinks. And plants in pitchers. And raw wood. And open shelving. So basically, this kitchen is heaven on earth.

 

from here

This is from a Swedish based (obviously) sustainable-home manufacturer. Do you know how much I’d love to be able to function with something so minimalist? Or how much I’d love an all white cabin on a Swedish island? This reminds me of my dad’s sense of design so much, and his kitchen.

I have to say, these are pretty exciting plans for a Thursday. Any interesting plans of your own for the end of the week? And advice for me as I try to cook with a professional? I’ll see you guys tomorrow with another Friday Five!


What has four legs and just peed on my floor?

Sorry about all the Debbie Downer nonsense last Tuesday. I guess I should explain. You know the scene at the end of the Surplus episode of The Office, when Michael, in a floor length mink, says, “Never buy a fur coat on a credit card until you absolutely have the money to pay for it”? Well, the moral of Tuesday’s post was never become emotionally attached to a shelter dog until you are absolutely sure he is coming home with you. Because finding out someone else adopted him before you could work out all of the logistics is heartbreaking.

But I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. And in this case, I think we were meant to go through the adoption application process for that puppy and then lose him so that we could find the puppy who was truly ours. Which we did. The next morning. It all happened so quickly. Like, disconcertingly quickly, actually. On Tuesday, I didn’t have a dog. And on Wednesday, I did. And oh my god, am I in love.

 

World, I’d like to introduce you to Fitzwater the Wonder Puppy, or Fitz for short.. He is part Beagle, part Terrier, and all spaz. He is 8 months old, happy, silly, and a baby genius. Within 5 hours of bringing him home, Fitz had learned “stay,” “wait,” and “drop it.” He came pre-loaded with “sit,” so I can’t take credit for that one, but he sits like a champ and will wait politely (for the most part) while you’re giving him a treat, playing with toys, or getting his leash on. Sometimes, though, his puppy brain short circuits and he defaults to just jumping and running wildly around the living room. This can also explain that one time he tried to chase a ball under his body and through his own legs. He is also getting the hang of “gimme your paw” and “cuddles!”

He is housebroken (well, minus those two times visitors came over to meet him and he got really excited and peed) and crate-trained, and we’re working with him to stop that awful, high-pitched howl that Beagles are famous for. He is so perfect and docile and sweet that already I am campaigning for Puppy #2. I know that makes me insane, given how much work an 8 month old is let alone an 8 week old. Still, though, don’t you think Fitz would like one of these as a little brother?

I know, I know. It’s like, “If you give a mouse a cookie….she’ll end up asking you for another puppy the day after you bring one home.”

And don’t let the fact that he is 8 months old and can hold it all day in the crate while I’m at work fool you. Bringing a dog of any age into your life is ridiculous and all-consuming. On Saturday I left him alone for 3 minutes to get dressed and found him eating a box of matches. The irony of that situation is that the matches were out in the first place because oh my god, puppy farts are perhaps the worst smelling things of all time. Gone is our care-free ability to sleep in late on weekends or go out for dinner and drinks after work, forever to be replaced with tending to this little guy:

I couldn’t be more psyched.

So yes! I am so glad I could give you a good home, little Fitz. I’m so happy I found you.

And Now for Something Completely Different

It’s been a pretty crazy week around here at the like/want/need headquarters, and I have a lot to catch you up on, but that is a story for Monday. I know it’s Friday (horray!), and that usually means another weekly bi-weekly semi-regularly-posted installment of the Friday Five, but this week I’ve decided to up the ante (and deviate entirely from anything this blog has been about since its inception a mere 6 months ago). I’ve kept you guys without content this week, interesting or otherwise, and for longer stretches of time than I’m happy to admit. I’d apologize again, for any past and future lapses, but I think you’ll appreciate what I’m offering up today:

That One Time I Tried Out for America’s Next Top Model.

Yes, I did capitalize that entire thing, beacuse ridiculousness as rich as what I’m about to share with you deserves nothing less. Actually, it deserves way, way more than capitals. I should have made it look something like this:

antm

You totally think I’m kidding.

Well, I’m not. I was indeed invited to and attended a private casting of my very favorite reality tv show, and it was so full of LOLs that I couldn’t even deal. I wish I had actually been selected for the show, if only for the amazing stories I could have provided at the end of it, and the no-doubt hundreds of hours of footage of me rolling my eyes or staring into the camera as if to say, “Is this girl serious?” that would have been collected. I’m pretty sure I had at least 15 moments during the casting where some girl said or did something so insanely ridiculous that my eyes popped out of my head.

It all started back in 2003, with the first season of ANTM. I was in high school, and the idea of sticking 12 women in a hotel in New York and making them live together while competing to be a model was pretty much my favorite thing to happen to television since Zoobilee Zoo, when I was 3. And let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure there have even been photoshoots styled with the distinct theme of Zoobilee Zoo over the 16 cycles of the show. Observe:

I COULDN’T MAKE THIS UP IF I TRIED. I don’t think I have to tell you which side the Zoobilee Zoo characters are on, and which side the ANTM photoshoots are on, do I? Good. Because in some cases it’s hard to tell.

(Sidenote: When I was 4 I got to meet Mayor Ben (last picture), who, it later came out, had a cocaine addiction. My dad reasoned that if he had to be Mayor Ben for a living, he’d probably be hooked on cocaine, too)

Anyway, from the first episode of the first cycle, I was hooked. Hooked. And I was a young 17 back then, too young to audition. And despite the rigorous insistence of my friends and family over the next few years, I still couldn’t muster up the energy to fill out the obscenely long application or be bothered to dig out my video camera and make an entry video. Too much work! I was happier watching it every week, propped up in amused sassiness at the edge of my seat, frequently spouting off expletive-laden tirades about the sheer idiocy and ugliness of certain contestants, and then having deeply passionate bashing sessions with my best friend about each episode. Oh, and, you know, attending college in an attempt to expand my mind and stuff. If I had decided to defer a semester to appear on a reality tv show about modeling, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have lived to finish the end of my sentence, so quickly would my mother’s reaction come.

Until last year. Last year, at the age of 23 (which is the equivalent of being 53 in the modeling world), I was unemployed college graduate hovering on the brink of a meltdown that could only be brought on by working my butt off for 4 sleepless years only to leave school faced with zero job prospects. I certainly wasn’t getting phone calls from French Vogue or anything, so maybe it was time to STOP BEING LAZY and take a picture of my face and submit it to the casting director of Top Model.

I’d post that picture here, but just imagine someone of incredible beauty and charm who has never once had an entire conversation with a piece of spinach between their teeth. Or someone who has never, ever mini-braided her entire head when she was home sick with mono for a week, or worn bright orange corduroys in earnest. Ahem.

What, I have to show you? God, you guys are so needy. Fine.

Gosh, happy now? Don’t judge me too harshly, I had just woken up.

A few days later, my phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. A lovely man (we’ll call him G., which isn’t his real name but isn’t that much of a stretch from the one-letter-name he did have) asked for the aforementioned scion of beauty and grace. He said I had what they were looking for (a face!) and wanted me to fill out an application. G. invited me to a private casting in New York, a deviation from how the previous 14 cycles of the show had auditioned. Usually, the casting in New York was an open casting, but the cycle before had ended in a riot when model-hopefuls were denied entry after a certain point. I was to treat all further correspondence with a level of secrecy tantamount to, say, Apple’s next big release to avoid a repeat model-meltdown.

I should have known from all of my previous data-gathering over the past 7 years of being addicted to this show that after its 3rd season it swiftly dissolved from a reality show in which contestants genuinely wanted to model into something that perhaps was born of a chance encounter between Jerry Springer’s show and a Delia’s in the mall, where the girls were wholly out for blood. This was the caliber of the show after 14 cycles in which it had plenty of time to become self-aware:

This challenge required the ladies to walk the 12″ wide, submerged underwater runway in a giant, inflatable bubble. Filled with confetti. While spouts aimed water at you. Obviously, this hopeful found the task difficult. Or, perhaps, she is laying down in defeat at a premise so wildly stupid, who knows. Either way, this will obviously come in handy during Paris Fashion Week.

I should have known, but I didn’t.

And then I got the heinously long application, and I started to get clued in.

Is this the part where you want to know that I can name 15 top fashion photographers and identify them by portfolio?

Oh! Maybe here is where you’d like me to tell you my thoughts on Hussein Chalayan’s latest collection? No?

Does it perhaps matter that I achieved Dean’s List every semester I attended college?

Aw, man, you couldn’t have even said books?

Maybe this was the point where I was meant to realize that I was trying out for a reality tv show. There was one question out of 72 about modeling, and it was as trite as “Who is your favorite supermodel, and why?” (perhaps my decision to not write down “TYRA BANKS!” with little hearts everywhere but rather than “a tie between Jessica Stam and Freja Beha Ericsson” was what precluded me from being chosen). It was not, foremost, a show about modeling. If the collective success of the previous 14 winners was any indication, whether or not you had the chops to make it in the real modeling world were secondary to how likely you were to slap a bitch cause she stole your granola bar (YOU THINK I’M KIDDING) and how far out over the ledge of public humiliation you were willing to dangle your dignity (dare I mention the time one girl peed in a diaper for fun).

Still, undeterred, I took a train to New York the night before the casting and checked in at an Econo Lodge (I was unemployed, okay?) a few blocks away from the hotel where the degradation-of-self was to take place the next morning. In addition to vowing never to tell anyone deemed unworthy (read: ugly) enough to be invited where this thing was going down, I had been instructed to wear a bikini under tight, “shape-revealing” articles of clothing, along with a pair of heels. The better to see your brain with, my dear! You have never seen someone work out so furiously in the weeks leading up to this as I did. I was doing tricep curls with cans of soup. By any and all standards, I have the body of an 11 year old boy, but this was America’s Next Top Model we were talking about. 11 year old prepubescent wasn’t good enough. I needed to strive for 9. Duh.

That night I dreamt of making it on the show and glitter filled hamster balls and fights about being “here to make friends” and gowns the color of Mr. Jay’s deliciously silver locks.

The morning of, I cabbed it over to the hotel and commenced what I will forever remember as the single weirdest 4 hours of my entire life. You guys, I could one day drink a beer with Madonna while riding bareback on a zebra, and it still wouldn’t be as weird. I would totally try to kick Madonna off her zebra though, because Madonna sucks.

First off, let me just say that inviting 200 reality-tv-obsessed girls ages 18-24 with an average BMI of just under 16 to one room filled with their competition is simultaneously the most maniacal and genius thing I’ve ever encountered. The girl seated next to me ate a piece of candy, put the crumpled up wrapped in the hair of the girl in front of her and proceeded to giggle like the evil shrew that she was. This girl worked 3rd shift at a Walmart and seemed to have no further aspirations (not even to, say, work 2nd shift at Walmart). Clearly, she was meant to wear couture. It was like Mean Girls, if Mean Girls had been set in the ballroom of that hotel, sported a 24 inch waist and suffered from delusions of grandeur.

Arrival time was listed as 8am, but we of the savvy variety (read: anxious) knew to arrive by 7:30. We were herded into a line to check in, where we were given once-overs and yet more paperwork to fill out, with progressively more probing questions into our mental stability and likelihood we would slap a bitch for stealing her granola bar.

Once all 200 girls were checked in and seated, a casting director came out and addressed us. She started with a speech about how lucky we should consider ourselves and how proud we should be that we were here, because this was an exclusive event, omg! After a light round of self-congratulatory applause, the casting director announced that we would “ALL HAVE A CHANCE TO TALK TO TYRA!” There were screams, cheers, shrieks of delight and awe. Someone in the back fainted. “OH MY GOD, TYRA!” more than one hopeful yelled. Doubting the possibility that Ms. Banks herself was sitting in the adjacent ballroom behind a casting table, I remained silent. Which was smart, because then the casting director finished her sentence:

“…to a camera.”

A duh.

But far be it from the casting directors to be mean about it, oh no. Since we were only able to address ourselves to Tyra on camera, they would at least make it feel like she was there. How, you ask? By taping this picture of her to the bottom of the camera, obviously:

After some more precursory warnings about turning your cell phones off so the cameras next door didn’t pick up interference, suggestions to wipe off ay excessive makeup so you don’t look too “overdone”, and one last speech that went something like, “Don’t walk in there and tell us you’re going to be the bitch of the house, because the bitch of the house doesn’t know she’s the bitch, that’s why she’s the bitch,” it was time for the waiting to begin. They were going to bring the girls into the adjoining ballroom in groups of 30, from which they would pick their favorites, the lucky select few who would then go on to the semi-final round.

I was number 39, so I would be in the second group. But it took over an hour and a half for the first group to finish, which we were made aware of by the processional of 9 very squealy girls back to their seats. The other 31 girls were gone. Never to be seen (or see the light of trashy reality tv!) again. If it was going to take, on average, an hour and a half for each group to be run through the ringer behind door number 2, I felt really, really sorry for girls 170-200.

Once we were escorted in, clutching only our many applications and three photographs of ourselves (a headshot, a full body shot, and a shot in a bikini), were were lined up in numerical order. The room had a long table along one side, directly behind a camera, behind which sat several casting directors, facing a large white backdrop lit by two large stand up lights. We had to step in front of the camera, on a little pink-tape T marker on the ground (an homage to Ms. Tyra, no doubt) and say our name, age, where we were from, and then file off the other side. I followed a 5’5″, 160lb diva who donned a pair of black sunglasses with oversized rhinestones around the rims solely for the purpose of taking them off and delivering her lines to camera (which she did, by the way, in a faux British accent, though she hailed form Boston). She referred to herself only as “Duchess.” I’m so not kidding.

Among the other memorable auditions, there was a blond stunner imported from Malmo, Sweden, a girl who got hit by a car and broke her foot 3 days before the audition and still showed up (she possesses DETERMINATION, YOU GUYS), and a girl who wore an approximation of a shirt in the form of a sheer scarf tied into a halter top and jeans so low I was almost able to see the results of her annual gynecological exam from 30 feet away. After she introduced herself, she pointed at her stomach with both her index fingers and said, “I had a kid two months ago.” You know, in case you thought children came from somewhere else. The piece-de-resistance wasn’t that by 19 she had successfully brought life into this world and had mastered the fine art of turning tiny amounts of fabric into full outfits, it was that she was picked to stay for the next round.

Once all 30 of us had done our bit, we were told that in the next portion we would be judged on our runway walks. Once again, we were supposed to take our mark while they played music, strut out toward the camera to another pink-tape T marker, strike our best runway pose, and strut back. For someone that has trouble functioning in ballet flats, this was to be a feat of epic proportions. Luckily, they put on some awesome music:

Because they had to loop it so that 30 girls could complete their walks, I heard this song more than enough times to have it successfully and permanently embedded in my brain for the next 6 months. I defy you to listen to this and not want to grind up against the nearest object, human or otherwise. It is not possible!

This is actually a very appropriate theme song for the entire premise of Top Model, if you think about it.  First off, the shutter noise at the beginning and end reminds you that yes! Models are photographed! There’s even a reference to Gucci in there. Hello! Gucci is a very famous designer. “None of these chicks look better than me” is probably the most commonly used phrase amongst contestants in the confessionals, right after “hate, hate, hate” which is also repeated throughout the song. And she sings “1-2-4-3,” which I know sounds incorrect, but actually represents the way a large majority of the girls auditioning probably count. In case I have not made this abundantly clear, let me remind you that having a brain is considered a detriment to reality tv.

After we were all done, we had to stand around while the casting directors conferred behind their table and looked over our applications and photos while making their judgements. Because they are not at all cruel, they put the song back on so we would have something to listen to while we waited. I imagine those 5 minutes are what someone undergoing sensory torture endures.

Then they called fewer than 10 numbers representing the girls who were still in the running toward becoming super humiliated in the next round of auditions. Alas, mine was not one of them. From what we were told, the next round of the casting including stripping down to your  bikini and being measured (height, body proportions), and probably some more cat-walking, before the ritualistic sacrificing of the uglies. Maybe even a dianetics test, I don’t know! It must have been an awfully long process though, to cull the group down to a workable amount of girls deemed “fit” to appear on the show. Obviously, “fit” meant you frequent nude beaches, hit things when you are angry, and think books are like, waaay too much work.

I released with the other lowly girls into the lobby. G was there, in all his lovely and effervescent glory, and he genuinely pouted when he saw me on my way out. He asked me to email him a few months later for the next cycle’s casting, but after the entire experience that morning, I decided firmly against it.

Look, it’s not that I’m deluded enough to think that the best way to enter the modeling industry is at the hands of Tyra Banks, a woman who, while an acclaimed model, wears more spandex bodysuits than will ever be acceptable and who sometimes makes girls dress up like characters from vintage 80s live-action tv shows. Don’t misinterpret that, I love the woman and would have loved the opportunity to be on that show, if only to be the linchpin of sanity and intelligence in an otherwise crazy house of 15 girls who refer to themselves in the 3rd person. And, well, I do love the industry and who wouldn’t want to be a model? On some level, I knew that trying out would shatter all of my delusions about the show, and that I’d be forced to realize that wanting to be a model and wanting to be on a reality tv show are two mutually exclusive things that only barely overlap on Top Model. What I should have done was try out for the show when it was still sort of new and meant to be taken seriously. Like, 6 years ago.

But if the show wasn’t the complete circus it has turned into today (which it is, though it’s toned itself down the past two seasons because there are legitimate prizes to be won now, like appearing in Vogue Italia. There are still some absolutely stunning and classy girls that appear on the show who have tons of potential and who end up getting signed regardless of if they win or not) then I wouldn’t love it half as much as I do, and therefore I wouldn’t have been drawn to audition in the first place. Does that even make sense? I love it because it is ridiculous, and while I’m way too old and wise to audition for it again, I will still watch old cycles on youtube to relive the glory days.

There. Over 3 thousand words on my obsession with America’s Next Top Model. It’s to the point that I once put together a list of girls who were doppelgangers of girls from other cycles. It was pretty impressive. Maybe I’ll post that next week.

Enjoy your weekend! You’re still in the running toward becoming America’s Next. Top. Model.

Inspiration

How’s everybody doing out there? Relatively dry? Un-flooded? Irene came and she went, and oh my god do I feel like an idiot for filling my bathtub with water and rushing out to buy batteries and canned food. It rained. We didn’t lose power. In fact, I slept through the entire storm.

However, any lofty ideas I had about spending a relaxing weekend at a nice boutique hotel in Chelsea, hitting up the new (and first ever stateside!) Laduree store that opened on Madison Ave, and spending the afternoon learning to prepare delicious, seasonal cuisine with Lidia Bastianich herself (look at her! jauntily tossing heirloom tomatoes in the air! god, I love that woman), were promptly (and painstakingly!) cancelled. I know that booking hotels through third-party sites is risky business, but you’d think that the “Non-Refundable” policy would be, I don’t know, FLEXIBLE in a hurricane that shut down city transit, bridges, transportation through the northeast corridor, evacuated part of Manhattan, and sent several states into “states of emergency.” But no! Luckily, after waiting on hold for 2 hours, the poor customer-service agent felt bad when I started crying, so I got my money back. The class was postponed and they are “working closely with Lidia” to reschedule. So all is not lost. But I can still whine about it!

The upside is that being stuck inside my house all weekend provided me with ample time to redesign the bejesus out of my blog. This is only the thousandth redesign I’ve had in 6 months, for those of you keeping count. You’ll be happy to know there was zero cursing involved with this redesign! That might be a first. I’m not 100% sold on the header (duh, when have I ever been), but I do love the new typography changes and widening of the content area. I’d love to know what you think about it, and if you have any suggestions or ideas you’d like to see me incorporate into the layout/design!

Anyway, now I’m all bummed out and we all know there is only one way to cheer me up: House porn! Here are some beautiful interiors to brighten up your Monday mornings.

from here

The stacks of books, the painted white floors, that old mirror, you had me at hello.

stylist Gitte Kjaer, via

This was probably what Lil Jon had in mind when he sang, “To the windooooowwww, to the wall!” My jaw literally dropped when I saw this. I want those windows.

both from here

Do I really have to explain what it is about these rooms that makes me all tingly and short-of-breath? I’m pretty sure the 2nd photo is the epitome of my perfect home, and the 1st one was what I imagined all lofts in New York looked like when I was a kid. Actually, it looks like the apartment in ‘Center Stage’. Who remembers that movie?!

from here

What, you mean you don’t browse Parisian apartment rental sites for fun? Then how woud you ever find amazing stairwells like this one?

from here

from here

Okay, okay, this isn’t an interiors shot, but come onnn! If that just doesn’t make your day, nothing will.

If you have any fun, hurricane related stories I’d love to hear them! Or if you just want to share some gorgeous interior design shots, I’d love to see those, too.

The Art of the Steal

Last night I watched the most incredible documentary I think I’ve ever seen (maybe after The Cove, which I would not advise watching if you are prone to crying during mass animal slaughter), called The Art of the Steal, chronicling the outright bastardization of Albert C. Barnes‘ will and trust, and the moving of his private, intended-for-education, premier-in-the-world collection of Post-Impressionist and Modern art, by both “charitable” institutions and the city I live in, Philadelphia.

Up until last night, I could turn a blind eye to every negative thing someone said about my city. I was born here, I was raised here, I went to school and college in this city. I work here. I live here. I was proud of this city, despite it’s obvious flaws and shortcomings. I can live with flash mobs (not the fun, dance-y kind you see on commercials) and terrible infrastructure and even the accent that I seem to be immune to, but the systematic and calculated degradation of a man’s will and the planned theft of his collection for profit and tourism? Not something I can take lightly. I am downright ashamed of my city after watching this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMe3r9PLtpI

It reminds me of an unpublished Shakespearean sonnet: How can I invalidate your will? Let me count the ways!

I’m all for making art, especially great art like that in the Barnes collection (181 Reniors! Be still my heart!), more accessible to a broader group of people in an effort to enrich their lives and provide an unparalleled cultural experience. But if the person who owns the art wants to keep it as a school? You listen to the owner. Even after he dies.

Having been to his Foundation and the grounds he intended the collection to stay in, and also have grown up only 5 minutes from the new location, I think I can safely be completely enraged like I’ve never been enraged before. White People Problem #3 (after “The dry cleaners didn’t use starch!” and “There isn’t enough hot water for my bath!”) is: They are trying to mess with art! The “they” in this film is as varied as our former mayor, former governor, and a whole host of other baddies who should hope I never, ever meet them in a dark alley.

If you love art and/or have a conscience, you need to see this movie.

Friday Five

Happy Friday, kiddos! As we speak, I am on a train to DC for a long weekend that fingers-crossed (!!) doesn’t get rained out. I’ll be doing all of the requisite tourist-y things, like taking pictures of myself hugging the National Monument, or giving a peace sign in front of the White House, and also hitting up a baseball game and maybe playing a game of Bocce at an Italian wine bar. I’ve had a nagging pressure headache for the past few days, so let’s hope it goes away and I can have a relaxing mini-vacation. Of course, all of this is assuming I can tear myself away from this hilarious video long enough to leave the hotel room. I’ll be back blogging on Monday with lots of fun things to share with you, so in the meantime let’s have a look at this week’s Friday Five:

Salted caramels

My darling friend (and a reader from the beginning!) Aly bought me a box of salted caramels the other day for seemingly no reason. This, along with her adorable-ness and her penchant for somehow being able to wear heels to any occasion (bowling party) without even breaking a sweat, makes her one of those friends you just wish you had. I’m a huge salt lover, but I’d been skeptical about how salt would pair with something as sweet as chocolate covered caramels ever since these candies started popping up everywhere.  Wow, was I wrong.  These are delicious and the combination is reminiscent of chocolate covered pretzels, only more decadent and incredible. If Aly’s intent was to fatten me up so I have even less chance of being able to function in a pair of heels: woman, mission accomplished.


Woven Skirt, Forever 21

I vowed I would never, ever shop at this store again once they lodged a ridiculous lawsuit against the hysterical blogger behind WTForever21.com. Which, if you haven’t checked out before, go do it now. I sometimes laugh so hard at the things she posts that I am reduced to tears (“On what occasion, precisely, is a person supposed to wear this dress? Some undetermined instance which calls for both the casualness of a denim vest and semi-formal nature of coal colored chiffon? A hillbilly funeral, perhaps? Dinner at Saddle Ranch and then drinks at Applebee’s? Forever 21, WTF?”). The lawsuit had no basis in reality, but they were flexing their bully muscles and threatening the blogger with legal action because she used their name. Sorry, F21, satire is totally protected speech. Anyway, I had sworn off this store finally, and not because I got tired of all the clothing only surviving one go-around in the washing machine before being reduced to shreds. But then I saw this skirt, and my heart did a little flutter, and for under $25 I had to snatch it up. I feel like I’m cheating on my principals, but it is so cute.

Paris Bus Scroll, Home Decorators

Bus scrolls have been popping up all over design blogs and house tours these days, but getting your hands a true vintage (or even believable reproductions) bus scroll can cost upwards of $200. Enter Home Decorators. I swear that store is such a hidden little gem that no one even knows about. Which is why an amazing, 60″ wall scroll meant to look like a vintage Parisian bus route can cost only $34. THIRTY-FOUR DOLLARS, are you kidding me? I feel like I’m stealing. They have one for London and New York as well, but you know where my heart is. Only downside is that it’s back-ordered two weeks, and patience has never been my friend. I’m helping to pass the time by pinning tons of photographs of Paris over at Pinterest.

 

One Day by David Nicholls, B&N

I bought a copy last Friday after seeing ‘Midnight in Paris’, and was able to get a copy that didn’t have the movie-tie-in cover. I know this qualifies as a White Person Problem, but I’d rather not buy the book at all than carry around a copy that has a movie poster for a cover (the only notable exception includes ‘Possession’ by A.S. Byatt, but I was young and had a girl-crush on Gwyneth Paltrow, sue me). ‘One Day’ was an easy read, but full of very sweet moments, and very heartbreaking ones as well. It was engrossing, and I’d recommend it without hesitation. But it definitely made me want to cut all my hair off again and move to Paris. More.

 

from here

Every once in a while, in all of the insane amounts of browsing interior design sources I do on a daily basis, I stumble upon a photograph of a space so amazing that I literally have problems breathing properly. You guys, this is one of those pictures. Of course it is in London. Oh. My. Gosh. I want to throw a big fluffy area rug right in the middle and set up a reclaimed wooden desk by those windows and spend every day writing in a notebook and drinking tea in old porcelain teacups and wear a big sweater the whole time. Also, I would have a pixie-cut again. If this room had a bathroom and kitchen (who am I kidding) I would never have to leave. And how glorious that would be!

Alright, lovelies. What are your hot weekend plans? If I were staying home this weekend, I would totally throw on that big sweater and curl up on the couch with a book. I’m reading this book now! Enjoy the weekend!