In Brief: Mike Leigh’s Naked

I went to a screening of the 1993 Mike Leigh film Naked last night at the IFC Center. (It was part of this series.) Watching it was like having a two-hour long anxiety attack. Or actually, I think I had a two-hour long anxiety attack while watching it. The misogynism and violence in the film were enough to make me feel super uncomfortable. And then there was the cynicism and intense discomfort of the main character – played brilliantly by David Thewlis –  that I felt very acutely. His outlook on the world and the affect it had on the other characters in the film – I almost wrote ‘play’, because everything was very theatrical – was disturbing. I’m still trying to process everything now, but I do think I’m glad I saw Naked. Even though I felt insane for hours afterward and had trouble falling asleep. And even though about two-thirds of the way through, these two drunk girls sat next to us in the theater and whispered and hysterically laughed through the rest of the movie like fucking assholes.

But yeah, it’s on Netflix! Watch it! (If you’re in the mood.)

The Enthralling Tale of How I Came to Acquire Several New Pairs of Shoes

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the one and only time i will ever take a picture of my feet*

Recently, I threw out a bunch of my shoes. I felt good about it at the time. Most of them were old, worn out and, frankly, embarrassing to wear out of the house. (This is not to say that I wore them inside the house, ever. I exclusively wear my cozy, furry L.L. Bean slippers whilst indoors.) I felt that I couldn’t go to work even for one more day feeling badly about the shoes I had on. However, I didn’t think about the fact that I would have to replace the shoes that I threw out until I actually went through with it. And the thing that I hate most in the world is shoe shopping.

Haha, I know, what a joke. I’m a girl! Girls love shoes! I do like shoes, actually. They protect my feet and keep them warm sometimes and they can look pretty if you don’t wear them out like I do. I just hate the act of looking for shoes. And that’s because I’m always replacing shoes that I can no longer wear and so I’m always looking for something very particular that never seems to exist in the market when I’d like it to. I also get way too invested in shoes that are too impractical or colorful or expensive when I’m looking which sends me into this spiral of shame for wanting something that I want rather than something I need. If that makes sense. I don’t know if it does.

Anyway, I went shoe shopping a few weeks ago with the intention to buy myself a nice, new pair of flats that was both practical and beautiful, in order to begin building up a collection of decent (and spring/summer-appropriate) shoes once again. Here is what happened: I went to Bloomingdales. I was disappointed by their shoe selection. I went to some random shoe store a few doors down from Bloomingdales on Broadway. I very hastily purchased one pair of Minnetonka moccasins, as a “replacement” for an old pair I threw out literally years ago, and one pair of bright red Toms, even though I pronounced many times over the last few years that I would never buy Toms because I thought they were hideous. So I went home with two new pairs of shoes, neither of which was a nice, new pair of flats that was both practical and beautiful. BUT, they were two new pairs of shoes to wear and when I looked at it that way, I felt pretty good!

I alternated between the moccasins and Toms for about two weeks and threw my new-ish – from this season – pair of black boots into the mix on colder days. But I felt very jealous of everyone wearing dressier spring shoes to work. Which led me to pulling out an old pair of ballet flats, which I had been planning to throw out because the little bow on the right one had ripped off but somehow had convinced myself that I needed to keep them just in case, out of my closet. I wore these things to work one day and I got so embarrassed about how scuffed up they were that I immediately went on Gilt Groupe and ordered myself new flats in the same neutral color. It took literally FIVE MINUTES. So, shopping for and purchasing these nice, new flats ended up being…easy. It just took one more day of wearing ugly shoes to work to realize that it could be that way.

I’m still working on replacing everything I threw out and the whole shopping thing is still kind of agonizing for me. But I feel like once I’m done finding all of the basics I need, I can move on to those fun, impractical things that I want. And that is something to look forward to. (And writing that last sentence is really making me evaluate what I’m doing with my life and the other, bigger things that I have to look forward to that I could be writing about right now. But no, I just wrote a short essay on shoe shopping.)

*I feel self-conscious about feet-pictures because of that part in Lost in Translation where Scarlett Johansson talks about taking mediocre pictures of horses and her feet.

‘Popping A Bottle of Taittinger in His Grave’: The Best of Town & Country, May 2013

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This month, Town & Country ranked the 50 “Great Families Who Rule America Now”. The T&C 50! This is, surprisingly, their first ever list of this kind. I know you’re all just as excited as I am about this, so let’s dive in!

Discussing these families for their wealth alone would have been crass, so the editors divided those 50 chosen into five groups: Inspiring, Generous, Enduring, Creative and Powerful. And then they ranked them. Frankly, many of the families could have fit into any of the categories. And any of them could have been ranked at any number and I would have been like, “OK. That makes…sense?” (You can find the full “rankings” here.) T&C devoted only a few sentences to each family so there wasn’t anything too juicy to pick apart. Anyway, here are the parts that I, personally, liked the best:

– No mention that Julia Louis-Dreyfus (of the Inspiring Louis-Dreyfus family) attended Northwestern University, which also happens to be my alma mater. But alas, I shouldn’t be surprised, since it isn’t in the Ivy League.

– The Cargills are Generous in many ways: “If you consume any kind of processed food today (don’t tell Michael Pollan), it probably contains Cargill ingredients.”

– Herbert Kohler Jr. is not only philanthropic, but he “also breeds horses and enjoys carriage driving.”

– And Ted Turner’s generosity extends to the animal kingdom, in the sense that he is “the owner of the biggest bison herd” in North America.

– The Wainwrights, almost puzzlingly grouped with other Enduring families such as the Du Ponts, Rockefellers, Hearsts and Vanderbilts, are the only family described as “dysfunctional”.

– There is a beautiful photo of David Rockefeller Sr. “at home with his art collection” in which he’s sitting in an armchair next to a big painting of a naked girl.

T&C notes that the Creative Coppola clan includes Nicolas Cage, “an Oscar-winning actor with a taste for Elvis memorabilia and European castles.” Which is like, the most tasteful way I’ve heard Nicolas Cage described in the past few years.

– The Kennedys were ranked the 5th most Powerful – behind Families Bush, Kerry, Murdoch and Emanuel – which I find SHOCKING for the obvious reason that you can barely read a page in this magazine without a Kennedy mention.

And thus concludes my notes on the biggest letdown of a cover story ever.

So now, let’s back it up. To the Editor’s Letter! This month, Jay Fielden discussed tax season and wealth. “Whatever your opinion of the new rates, as members of perhaps the wealthiest readership of any magazine, you are also among the most highly taxed.” He really knows his audience. Except for me, of course, who is not anywhere close to being among the most highly taxed! However, it does seem that the common people crept into his consciousness in the last month. He went to see Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye whilst in France and noted that “It says, by way of its geometry of beauty and blankness, that the proletariat are people too.” We are, indeed.

I found some more sharp commentary in the Inbox. One reader, an etiquette coach from San Jose, California, says that she “must respectfully disagree with the photo essay reflecting the perfect way to exit a car.” (This was in the March issue.) So, how does one exit a car? “The knees must remain glued together, prohibiting paparazzi from snagging the compromising photo.” She details the steps but I stopped reading there because, I dunno, maybe I secretly want paparazzi taking scandalous photos of me exiting a car some day.

This month’s Scorecard: John Kerry’s Ties vs. Madeleine Albright’s Pins. Who wins? It’s actually very unclear.

They are doing a whole thing about The Great Gatsby this month. Francis Ford Coppola wrote about retooling the 1974 Gatsby script. And they republished the the magazine’s original review of the novel. There isn’t much on the new movie but then, new isn’t really their thing, is it?

Speaking of stuff based on olden literature, there is a piece on the new production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It contains the following sentence: “That comparison surely has good old Tru popping a bottle of Taittinger in his grave.” I wanted to explain the context of this line but, now that I think of it, there is no need.

Anyway, what’s in style this season? T&C’s Style Spy tells us!

– Two things: designer athletic equipment (ex. Tommy Hilfiger baseball bats) and evening flats (which are a thing I can definitely get down with).

– Also, HATS. Only they are super fancy and designed by Aaron Keppel (of id Design, based in – gasp – Brooklyn), who created a dope headpiece that the magazine calls a “skull flowers creation” for a contributor.

– Luxury closet organizers. (“In closets, as in life, we all need rules to live by.”)

– Rugby shirts. (Perfect opportunity to work in some rugby/sporting lingo: “Oddly enough, a desperate search last fall for the perfect rugby shirt turned up few players; expecting a scrum in the online marketplace, we stumbled into the equivalent of a bye week – a virtually empty field.”)

Where should we travel? Rome! The T&C Beauty Insider’s guide to Rome actually made me super stressed out and I am now convinced for sure that I’ll never have a decent Roman holiday. I have been there once and I spent the entire time lost, cold and trying to think of the Latin word for “cudgel”, but that’s a tale for another time. Anyway, here are some things I learned about the beautiful people of Rome:

– “How is it that Roman women can eat pasta on a daily basis – Italian women do have joyous appetites – and still ease into their sleek, fitted clothes?” All of them see personal trainers.

– “One of the hallmarks of the Roman woman’s composed and exacting style is that there’s never a hair out of place – literally. Women visit the salon three or four times a week for professional blowouts.” Haha, stop it.

– Some Roman people like to visit an “Austrian naturopath, who specializes in ‘energy vibrational therapy’”.

Also, we should travel to Paris to learn how to take care of our skin! Sadie Stein’s essay on this is actually lovely. Read it.

What’s everyone been up to in society these days?

Well, some dudes (Hasty Pudding) honored another dude (Kiefer Sutherland) with their Man of the Year award and now there is a page in T&C with pictures of past honorees in silly bras! Also, designers appear on the runway after their shows in different ways.

The Kentucky Derby is coming up. Whitney Tower, Jr. took us along with him on his first trip to the Derby, which seemed full of appropriately charming festivities. (One of his hosts noted, “We mix tradition with fun. We use heirloom goblets to drink Coca-Cola.”) My favorite part of this piece wasn’t about the Derby, though. It was discovering that everyone in his family has almost the same name: “Bumping into members of my extended family – my great-aunt Marylou Whitney, of Saratoga fame, and my cousin Whitney Miller Douglass – brought back memories of reunions in the Adirondacks and at our plantation in Aiken, South Carolina.”

Michelle Kwan got married. “The January wedding was a suitable choice for Kwan, who competed in the Winter Olympics twice.” What I’m getting from that is that her wedding wouldn’t have made it into the magazine if it had been in the summer.

Manners & Misdemeanors was a doozy this month. It was about ‘friendnapping’ and it begins like this: “What can you say about the friendnapper, the smiler with the knife who lurks in our midst?” And then: “He is a stripe of social climber subtler and more insidious than the parvenu, a kind of upwardly mobile bottom-feeder who specializes in divide-and-conquer tactics.”

OK. Who injured the author so grievously that he was inspired to write this piece? Only the most delightful French couple of all time! “The man, whom we’ll call Maurice, designed landscapes; he had a moderately successful practice, nothing fancy, based largely on his pleasing color sense. His wife, Camille, was more aristocratic – she had matrilineal ties to Proust – and she kept a lovely home, entertained with aplomb, and lunched, when she could, with gay men of style.” They can friendnap me anytime!

OK, what else? Indeed, there is more! Including…a fashion editorial starring an old, rich lady named Fern Tailer (“known as Big Fern”) who lives in Palm Beach and her thirty-ish year-old first cousin once removed, who is attractive in a model-y way, which makes sense because he is described as “hat designer and model Nick Fouquet”. The whole thing is bizarre and filled me with indescribable joy. Especially the part where they interview the two of them and Big Fern tears up when she read a note the dude – who cares what his name is really – wrote her. (It says: “What an awesomely cool and inspiring woman you are. I always enjoy our conversations. Keep rocking.”)

And finally, we have an excerpt from The Astor Orphan, a memoir written by Alexandra Aldrich, a descendent of John Jacob Astor, who grew up in a dilapidated forty-three room mansion that her family inherited. The excerpt was fine, but it left me with a desire to watch Grey Gardens, which I might just indulge right now.

So, there we have it. Please join me next month when I will once again attempt to find new ways to talk about Town & Country finding new ways to talk about the same rich people all over again!

Questions I May Have Asked Myself Yesterday

Ugh, is it the daytime?

What time do I have to leave the house in order to be just 10 minutes late rather than 20 minutes late?

Do I wear a light coat today or like, a heavy coat but leave it unzipped?

How sweaty am I going to be on the subway if I carry hot coffee?

But is it an acceptable time of year to get iced coffee?

Did I just accidentally play patty cake with that barista when I was trying to hand him my money with one hand and my frequent customer card with the other?

Should I take this scarf off?

How do I turn on “Private Session” in this updated Spotify app?

Why isn’t my MetroCard working?

No, seriously, why isn’t my MetroCard working?

What’s this dude on this very crowded subway maniacally laughing to himself about?

Um, is this Hasidic man allowed to be on this very crowded subway sandwiched between all of these ladies right now?

How long is it going to take for the elevator to come?

No, seriously, HOW LONG?

Should I get Rosetta Stone to brush up on my French to impress the hot French dude who is sometimes waiting for the elevator at the same time as me?

How am I going to make it to the end of the work day?

Why doesn’t anyone ever read their email?

Is everyone an idiot?

When can I eat lunch?

What made you think I didn’t want that hard-boiled egg in my salad chopped up like the rest of it?

When can I eat my snack?

Am I actually hungry or am I just bored?

How can I get creative inspiration without leaving my desk?

What if I just quit everything?

Why am I reading the Wikipedia page for ‘Dogs Playing Poker’?

Can I leave now?

Where is my beer?

Do I ask someone where the bathroom is in this place or just wander around until I find it?

Should I have another beer?

Was this restaurant on Girls?

Do I order the polenta?

How many Weight Watchers points is polenta?

Does this mason jar hold the same amount of liquid as a pint glass?

Can I show my face at Trash Bar again?

Where is the closest bar to this restaurant that is not Trash Bar?

Is it weird to sit at this bar by myself after my friend leaves?

Should I just walk home?

How am I still walking right now?

Is working on my story when I get home really a good idea?

Would my family be mad at me if I wrote about them?

Why did I decide that writing was going to be my “thing”?

What if I never actually publish anything?

Does it matter?

Does anything matter?

Why am I alive right now?

What really happens after you die?

Am I having an existential crisis?

How have I not watched the new Louis C.K. special yet?

Do I want a second cookie?

Should I buy the second season of Adventure Time on Amazon Prime?

In how many hours do I need to wake up?

 

In the Emergency Room and Some Other Stuff That Happened This Week

Well, guys, it has really been A WEEK. In two senses. 1) It has literally been a week since I last posted. 2) This week was kind of horrible. (I mean, some good stuff happened but some bad stuff also happened.)

 

I’ve had some really heavy things on my mind, I guess, since Sunday, which I’m not sure I want to write about yet. I hate being vague but I thought that I should mention it because it was part of why this week was so tough. But yeah, on top of that, I’ve been really busy, so I’ve been feeling drained and unable to write at all until today. And now, I’m not sure if I’m really sick or still exhausted!

 

Anyway, here’s a “quick” rundown of stuff that’s happened since last Thursday:

Jessie Ware at Webster Hall

Jessie Ware at Webster Hall

 

Friday night, I went to see Jessie Ware at Webster Hall. She was amazing. MTV streamed the concert live. You can watch some videos from the night here.

 

On Saturday, I literally do not remember what I did except like nurse a hangover and run errands until, somehow, I went out to dinner at Paulie Gee’s and then for drinks at, um, more than one bar in Greenpoint.

 

Mom at the Brooklyn Flea

Mom at the Brooklyn Flea

My mom drove down to Brooklyn on Sunday and we had a really nice brunch at Sweetwater in Williamsburg and then headed over to the Brooklyn Flea, which was slightly less nice, since it was really crowded and windy. After she left, I hung out in my apartment and finished Dear Life by Alice Munro. (I recommend it!) Then, I went to meet up with my new writers’ group in Manhattan for a goal-setting session. Now I have a list of things that I want to accomplish in the coming months, which is great but kind of terrifying in that I actually need to write things rather than talk about writing them.

 

I got home that night just in time to participate in a TV-viewing marathon. We watched the sixth season premiere of Mad Men and the second episode of this season of Game of Thrones. I love these two shows, but it’s not easy watching them one after the other. I ended up not sleeping much that night.

 

On Monday, I got out of the subway, already late for work, and saw that I had a missed call and a voicemail from my mom. This always worries me. And I was already anxious. I called her back and she told me that my dad got hit by a bike or a scooter or something, she wasn’t sure, on the corner by his office. He was in an ambulance going to Roosevelt Hospital. To make a long story less long, I ended up in the St. Luke’s-Roosevelt emergency room about 30 minutes later, waiting with my dad to get his first set of x-rays. It turned out that his shoulder had been dislocated and fractured because I cyclist had run into him and a woman on a Razor scooter in a crosswalk. (The Razor scooter detail is probably my favorite of the entire story because, REALLY, you were riding a Razor scooter in midtown Manhattan?)

 

He was in a lot of pain, which was not fun to see. Also not fun to see? Everything that goes on in an emergency room.

 

Here’s a list of cool things that happened in the ER:

– I got really freaked out walking by the Resuscitation Room and almost had a panic attack before I even saw my dad;

– My dad referred to his doctor as “Doogie Howser”, which was a very obvious thing to call him because he looked really young, but it was still funny;

– I got really freaked out again seeing an intoxicated woman come in on a stretcher at like, 11 AM;

– My dad got wheeled to the x-ray room by a dude who had a tattoo of a huge wolf on his hand with “LONE WOLF” written on a scroll-type thing above it. He kept making jokes about me beating up my dad, which I kept having to fake-laugh at. This man was also very interested in what Tenth of December, which I’d just started reading for my book club, was about.;

– My dad told a nurse that he was going to murder everyone if they didn’t put his shoulder back in since it seriously took them four hours to get around to even trying;

– They had to put my dad under with whatever drug killed Michael Jackson and this occurred roughly 5.5 hours after he had arrived in the ER;

– The guy in the “room” (curtained-off section?) next to my dad started pitching a fit because he wanted to leave but he didn’t want to take out his IV. So, he started screaming that his nurse was “a fat, ugly bitch” and that he didn’t want to see her. Then, he started throwing things out of the room. And got in a fight with several doctors. And had to be escorted out by the police. All while screaming profanities;

– The x-ray technician re-dislocated my dad’s shoulder after they had put him under to put it back in so they had to do the whole thing all over again.

I left around 4 to go back to the office. I found out later that my dad didn’t get to leave until around like, 7? (My brother got there before I left to bring him home.) So this was all very fun.

Fleetwood Mac at MSG from the Nosebleeds

Fleetwood Mac at MSG from the Nosebleeds

That night, I went to see Fleetwood Mac at Madison Square Garden with my friend Lee. We had been looking forward to it for months but, honestly, I didn’t really feel like going at that point. But, I still managed to have fun! It was worth going just to see Stevie Nicks twirling around on stage.

I was very busy with other life things until Thursday, when I was still busy but started feeling sick and more exhausted than I had been previously . (I don’t think I felt like I had energy at any point during the week.) HOWEVER, I had another concert to go to that evening that I had been looking forward to for a while. So, I got myself together and went out.

Marnie Stern at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Marnie Stern at Music Hall of Williamsburg

I saw Marnie Stern at Music Hall of Williamsburg with my friend Bailey, who I’m very lucky was available to join me at the last minute. (I still hate going to shows alone.) This is the third time I’ve seen her in the past few years and it was just as fun this time as it had been in the past. Before the concert, I’d felt pretty good when we were at a bar and grabbing a bite to eat. But by the time the concert was over, I was just ready to collapse.

So, by yesterday afternoon, I felt truly terrible. I’d woken up early to see my therapist before work and I guess we’d gotten our wires crossed because, while I was ringing the buzzer at her office for 20 minutes, she was on a plane somewhere. I went to the office early, which ended up being a good thing because I really did need to get a headstart on all I had to do that day. (Getting in before everyone else is really good for me in terms of getting focused. And obviously I do that rarely.) But I was really, really beat by 3 and couldn’t think about anything other than how sick I felt.

Somehow, I managed to stay until an acceptable leaving hour. Once home, I got into my pajamas and drank some orange-carrot juice – I have literally had juice on its own and not in a cocktail like three times in the past three years – and put on Adventure Time, which I watched until I fell asleep at the grannyish hour of 9:30 PM.

I woke up at 10 AM and now, here I am, typing at a coffee shop, still feeling kind of shitty but I have to write three pages by tomorrow’s writer’s group and I guess I’m writing this blog post to avoid doing that. If you’ve actually made it through this entire, boring account of my week, congratulations and I thank you very much! Please don’t stop reading because I promise I’ll post some more…interesting things this coming week.