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MAR
21

Rethinking Peridot


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It probably stands to reason that if you royally slam peridot in your second book for being the hands-down ugliest birthstone, you will inevitably be seated at dinner next to the jewelry designer your company is hosting who just happens to be wearing one of the largest peridot pieces you've ever seen in real life. In that moment you'll have two choices: you can continue to be a peridot snob and eat your dinner the same way you eat your dinner every night. Or you can ask her to hand over the honking thing and eat your dinner while wearing more carat weight than you've ever even tried on.

I chose the latter.

And I would choose it again.

And that, peridot, is the closest to a love letter you'll ever get from me.

MAR
11

Growing out a Pixie - Part 2

I have an exciting announcement. My stylist says I'm officially in "bob" territory. You'll recall that the last time I checked in on this subject (Growing out a Pixie - Part 1), I'd had someone that very day tell me I really needed to do something about my hair. And even though my hair is to a point now where it actually looks like something a person might do on purpose, I still get comments. Within the same 24-hour period last week I had someone say "Your hair is adorable that length," and someone else say, "Are you growing your hair out?" and then cringe when my answer was yes. "Why?" they asked. Um, because I miss having hair? Of course I already feel 1000 times more ordinary, even with a bob. But whatever. Here's to changing it up.

MAR
04

To Procreate or not to Procreate?

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I read a book recently that had been written as a series of essays by writers who had each, for one reason or another, decided not to have children. Each author spent his or her essay largely explaining this decision. I find books on particular lifestyle choices interesting (a la Spinster), particularly if they are choices that I have made as well. Not that my reasons are the same as any of this book’s contributing authors. I am choosing not to have children because I don’t want to be a single parent, not because I don’t want children. Were my circumstances different (ie. if I could find the right man), I would welcome the opportunity. But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about.

What struck me while reading these essays was how many of the authors mention an unwillingness to give up their career as a contributing factor—many times a significant one—in their decision not to have children. It might seem an odd thing, since, especially in this day and age, having both a career and a family is very do-able. But keep in mind the authors of these essays are all writers—full-time writers—and that kind of career is an entirely different animal. You’re at home all day, for starters, and that in and of itself—that at home is where you need to be your most productive—can make the idea of children very off-putting. These writers told of how even just the thought of a child pulling at their arm while they sat typing or journaling was enough to 1) make them realize it would simply never be possible to do both, and 2) fill them with acute hypothetical guilt over neglecting this hypothetical child. Point 1 makes me think of something I read in Joni Mitchell’s biography. When she was still quite young, Joni had a baby girl and gave her up for adoption. The decision tore her up, but she said some decades later that had she not made that decision, her career in the music industry would have never happened. It simply wouldn’t have been possible. So I get it. I do. And I am personally quite glad for her decision, as “I could drink a case of you and still be on my feet” is one of my favorite lyrics ever penned.

Point 2 makes me think of what happens every evening and weekend when I sit down to write and my cat jumps up and tries to fight my computer for the spot on my lap. She’ll try and try, me batting her away until she finally realizes the mission is futile. Of course, when I do this, she curls up on the couch and sleeps for the next five hours and is really no worse for wear. So I realize this temporary neglect doesn’t trigger the same type of guilt I would feel if I resented my child and her frequent—no, constant—tendency to impede my writing. (She, my cat, does the same thing when I’m reading a book, constantly walking across and sitting on the pages…it’s equal parts infuriating and adorable.)

I’m not a judgey person. Or maybe I am. But surprisingly not about this topic. Because I think it’s a legitimate choice. And I reject the notion that choosing a childless life is selfish. I do think having children is certainly more selfless by comparison. It’s one of the reasons why, again, were my circumstances different, I’d have a child. Because I see this selfless quality in so many of the people I know who have children, and sacrifice and suffering in the name of love is something I could probably benefit from incorporating more of. But people know themselves. And their limits. Particularly writers, who from my own observations are more likely to 1) have the time to wax pensive over tradeoffs and preferences, 2) have TAKEN the time to wax pensive over tradeoffs and preferences, 3) to seek peace and solitude, and 4) to have experienced some sort of trauma or neglect from their own parents, consequently turning them off of the notion of procreating. Whatever their reasons, let’s respect them. Having said that, I’m going to turn off my computer now. My cat has been patiently waiting for her turn on my lap.

FEB
25

Final(ish) Touches

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A friend recently commented that I blog much less now that I’m a working girl again. This is true. So is the fact that I am way behind on getting my new manuscript to my editor, and much for the same reason. I do pine for my days in New York City, most of them employer-free once I quit my job to focus on gemology, nothing really on my to-do list other than a freelance writing gig and a magnificent city to discover. Those were the days.

It’s now been three months since announcing here (And....Done.) that I had finished the new manuscript, so I should probably tell you that what’s happened is I felt like there was something missing. I wanted to add in a more universal component to weave throughout the stories from my own life that fill the book, and so I sent out the survey I mentioned here (Survey Says), and then wrote 8,000 more words to incorporate some of the survey themes and data into the manuscript.

It’s not perfect, and I still have some work to do before I hand it off, but I like it better now. And I like that it’s something new I’m experimenting with. Don’t get me wrong…I’m still filled with that sickening sense of panic that always fills me before the release of a book (“No one will like this.”), but that will probably be there every time. All I can do is take my time, try to get it right on my end, and enjoy every bit of the process.

FEB
14

Canines and Cupids

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I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the day of love than to volunteer at the Canines and Cupids dog adoption event this weekend here in San Diego. I feel strongly about animals, about our responsibility to care for them, and about pet adoption in general. And speaking of love, there's possibly no truer kind than what you'd get from a canine companion, so it warmed my heart to see so many dogs find forever homes yesterday.

There was one dog in particular who stole my heart, a tiny chihuahua who had recently been shot up so badly by idiots with a pellet gun that he's lost the use of his back legs. Since the paralysis left him unable to feel pain, he chewed himself so badly that he is without a male organ and now has to wear diapers to soak up the stream of urine that exits from the hole doctors were able to fashion for him. He also must move around with his back legs resting in a tiny wheeled device. It's honestly one of the saddest things I've ever seen in my life.

The moral of the story is that people who abuse animals should be in prison, but another moral to the story is that animals need our help. They need homes, even foster homes. They need care, they need kindness, and it's something I've committed to get more involved in this year. Given how many shelters participated in yesterday's adoption event (and this is just one city!), I guarantee there are shelters and organizations in your area who could use your help. Whether that's cutting a check or volunteering at an event or stopping by a shelter one evening a week to walk a few dogs, I encourage you to show some love to the furry friends who are always so willing to do the same for us.

 

 

FEB
07

The X-Files Reboot

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It's such a dirty trick, really. How TV shows get us hooked and then go off the air. I've pined after the ends of Sex and the City (luckily the two post-show movies helped me cope), Gilmore Girls, Friday Night Lights, and others, but no show have I ever missed more than The X-Files.

I was raised in a home that observed the sabbath day, such that my parents strove to have it be a day truly set apart from all others. Meaning if it was something we did during the week (like go over to friends' houses or watch TV), we didn't do it on Sunday. The TV thing was really a killer, because that's when The X-Files was on. So I would record each episode on a video cassette and watch it Monday morning before school. And considering that I had not one but TWO earlybird classes in high school (meaning I left the house by 6 AM), this meant I was waking up at 4 AM just to watch that week's episode. True, unadulterated dedication if I ever heard it, especially for a teenager.

What made it so good? You could say the conspiracy theories were interesting, the monster episodes spooky, but really it came down to Scully and Mulder. Their personalities were so different, Scully so rational and Mulder so into the paranormal. Some say their lack of romance was what kept the show so good, but all I ever wanted was for the two of them to get together. So I hung on every touch (that New Years kiss!), every line of flirty banter. That Fox has temporarily brought back the X-Files has made my 2016 such a treat so far. A decade and a half older, and it's not like they don't look it, but Scully and Mulder are still the same (so is the opening song/credits), and this reboot seems so much like the original series that I'm wondering why they ever took it away. Here's hoping we can convince Fox to make this a permanent thing...and not just because I'd like to see them get together for real.

FEB
03

Survey Says

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For anyone interested in helping me with my new book (or anyone that likes being given a reason to confess their true feelings about love or dish on a bastardly ex), I invite you to take this less-than-five-minute survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/W2SWGHZ

If I use any of your quotes, I'll send you a free copy of the book once it's out. But that does mean you'd have to own up to which one is yours, since the survey is anonymous. In any case, I'm trying to get as many perspectives as possible, so the more the merrier.

Happy surveying.

p$Sch07dkL
JAN
24

Growing out a Pixie - Part 1

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Have I told you I'm growing out my pixie? This is the part where the ugliness of in-between lengths is enough to make a girl keep short hair forever, and while I suppose I could change my mind at any point and chop it again, as of right now I'm letting it grow. So if you see me at some point during the year (and trust me, this will take all year) and think I look horrible, please don't be like the hot guy in my office who told me on the day this picture was taken, and I quote, "You've got to do something about your hair." Just accept the fact that it's going to get worse before it gets better, and then move on.

 

 

JAN
16

On Powerball

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Powerball was the best thing to happen to me all week. Not because I won. (Apologies to the $8 that just shot me a look from across the room and would like me to clarify that I did, in fact, win. Something. What this $8 doesn't understand is how much more than $8 I sunk into this effort.)

Seriously though, to make myself feel better about having to continue to go to work and operate under a budget and use the Claritin coupons that accompany my pharmacy receipts, I'm focusing on the fact that when I went to buy my Powerball tickets this week, the middle-eastern cashier gave me a quizzical and slightly suspicious look.

"Are you old enough?" he asked.

"What?" (Was he freaking being serious? I'm in my thirties.)

"You're eighteen?"

"Oh yes, much older than that."

"To me you look young," he said, still possibly skeptical as he got me my change.

This could all be a ploy to sell more tickets, because I feel forever endeared to this thickly-accented man and will likely be returning to his gas station the next time there's a record jackpot.

I mean, if you can't win a billion dollars, surely the next best thing is being mistaken for a teenager.

 

 

JAN
09

Resolutions: Week 1

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This was my view as I mulled over the new year and the areas on which I wanted to focus, to improve, to accomplish, or to at least spend more time on in 2016. The beach is an incredibly inspiring place for such thoughts, and I left feeling both refreshed and energized to get started. Nevermind that on the walk back to my house a bird pooped on my head--a warm, wet glob that fell from a tree and seemed to clearly indicate that the universe was rejecting the goals I'd just set, but whatever. I'm ignoring the whole incident. Because shit happens, yo.

I won't bore you with the details (some undoubtedly very pathetic) of my New Year's resolutions, but I will say that in many areas, week 1 was a complete success. I want to volunteer more and I signed up with two local San Diego charities that will hopefully give me the opportunity to do so. I want to be more social so I've lined up some events that will get me out of the house and meeting people more often. (Clarification: There's nothing wrong with being an introvert, but I'd like to make more of an effort to go to events that typically have me rationalizing that I'd much rather go home and write and spend time with my cat. Which is pretty much what I say about every social event.) I want to cook more and made potato soup from scratch like four times this week. (San Diego is in the dearth of winter right now with temps sometimes no higher than the fifties. Look what California has done to me???) I could continue in this vein, because there is more, but hopefully you get the point. Which is that I am doing things. Which is so much more powerful than trying to do things or saying you will do things or postponing things until a more convenient time.

That time is now, for all of us. So I leave you with the challenge of action as you delve more fully into the new year. Do the thing. Do all of the things. Just maybe wear a hat if any of those things involve walking on the beach.

DEC
31

The Best Nine

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I spent a good chunk of time at the airport this morning sifting through all my 2015 photos looking for the 9 that I considered the best...the 9 that made me the happiest and also were the most representative of my year. I'd seen all the #2015bestnine stuff floating around, and not until I actually asked someone about it did I find out that people were not, as I had thought, using Pic Stitch to create homemade versions of their own self-dubbed favorite 2015 pics; that these best nine were actually auto-generated by a website and based on the 9 Instagram photos that were the most "liked" by your followers. Somewhat less charming, but still, I suppose it's a pretty good collection.

2015 was an incredible year for me. One that saw me read a record number of books, finish my own third manuscript, become a gemologist, transition my career, and move across the country. I basically crushed it. To the point where I'm struggling a bit as I sit here making goals and resolutions for 2016. It's not that I worry that no year will ever top it, it's more that so much on my life to-do list got accomplished. Particularly on the gemology front. Becoming a gemologist and then moving my career in that direction was something I aspired to for so many years, and now that it's happened, now that I've done it, I simply don't have another similarly-sized dream to replace the empty space this has left in my dream bucket.

It's a good problem to have, surely. And isn't that the whole point of dreams and goals? To achieve them? I believe that. I do. But as a person who thrives on having that next big, dreamy thing to be working toward, I am, quite frankly, feeling a little lackluster about the upcoming year. Given that I may be staying put for a while in this lovely sweet spot that my 2015 dreamy actions have put me in, I'll need to spend some time figuring out what comes next for me. Big things, small things, things I haven't even thought of yet. My hope for you, my dear friends, family, and readers, is that you are able to do the same, and that you revel in the process. Happy New Year, indeed.

DEC
27

Santa's *Other* Form of Transportation

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In case you were wondering, Santa drives a Subaru Forester.

He also smokes.

And jaywalks.

The illusion is shattered.

 

DEC
17

My Favorite Holiday Color

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Now, if coming home to find this blingitty bling bling gift on your front porch doesn't make up for you not winning the Ugly Sweater Contest at the holiday office party, then I'm not sure what will.

This Christmas just got a whole lot better.

PS - My sweater was hideous.

DEC
04

The Tree Lighting

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I had visions of Rockefeller Center dancing in my head when I heard about a tree lighting in the beach town just north of mine. Now, to be clear, I assure you I did realize there would be a difference. Like, a big one. Even as I arrived a mere twenty minutes before show time and got a spot pretty much right in front of the tree, I was excited. Even as I first took in the little tree (much smaller than I was anticipating, even for a tiny oceanside town), I was not dismayed. Because once the switch was flipped, the tree in its entirety would be transformed, set aglow by a healthy coating of spectral colors. I mean, isn’t that why we go to tree lightings? To experience that moment of contrast? To appreciate the difference?

I hate to call the holidays a distraction, because they are certainly more meaningful to me than that, but sometimes it feels as if their sole purpose is to temporarily buoy us up. From life. From reality. From depression and loneliness. From evil and despair. From your college football team not being in the playoff running this year. One of the pre-lighting speakers, some city official or other, basically asked us to—just for this moment—be happy. Just for this moment, be grateful and feel blessed. Just for this moment, celebrate. Southern California in general has been a bit gloomy and on edge this week, such that I guarantee I wasn’t the only one amongst the tree-lighting crowd who swiveled her head in between the high school show choir’s numbers, wondering if some crazy was lurking in the corner, locked and loaded. (I wish I could say I was just being dramatic, but I think for many Americans, the idea of public safety has been permanently shifted to the morbidly paranoid.)

The actual flipping of the switch (the lighting of the tree) was achingly underwhelming. Even having prepped myself for such a scaled-down version, I think I needed it to be more. More than just a faint star and one string of regular lights that you’d see on a regular house in a regular part of town. Maybe it’s that I’m struggling to feel like it’s Christmas at all, what with the temperatures being so warm and the fact that I was at the moment of lighting standing in between a palm tree and a bird of paradise plant. Maybe it’s that the holiday ornaments I bought to make a garland for my living room walls only made enough to go around three-quarters….of one wall. Or maybe it’s that I don't feel as buoyed up by the season this year. But I’ll keep trying. Because I know that for the most part, people are good. I know for the most part, I am safe. For the most part, the blessings in our lives are easy to spot and comforting to cling to. And most of all, I know that it’s Christmas. (Despite the fact that I’m going to spend the day tomorrow at the beach in 80 degree weather.)

NOV
30

I Recall Central Park in Fall

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It's almost too late in the season to still be considered fall, but I found myself in New York City over the Thanksgiving weekend and boy howdy, it sure felt like it. Fall. 65 degrees and sunny. People out in droves biking and running, all wearing shorts and tanks. I hadn't been back to NYC since moving away over the summer, so I would have reveled in the New-Yorkyness regardless, but the weather was truly spectacular. I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish in a short time, but somehow everything else fell off the list once I stepped into Central Park. Now, isn't that always the way? Some places never really leave you.

 

NOV
22

And....Done.

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"Call it crazy. It certainly would have been apropos."

This is the line that officially completed my third manuscript, a manuscript I wrote the last 3000 words of this weekend. To be clear, these are not the last 3000 words of the book...just as the line above is not how the book ends...it's simply the conclusion of the last chapter I had left to write up. The one, I hate to say it, I've been avoiding because remembering it sort of sucked.

There's actually a lot in this book that sucks, which means that I have more work to do on this manuscript than on any other. (Not to mention, it's 150% longer than my previous two.) Editing, re-writing, deleting, and--ultimately--making sure this is still a book that I feel good about putting out there. But for now I'm happy. Thrilled, even. I forgot how good it feels just to get the first draft all written out. It feels AMAZING. It propels me forward into the next phase, a phase that revolves around organization and detail and chronology. It's a phase I like so very much. It's a phase that gets me one step closer to holding the finished product in my hands.

Watch out, world. Here come all the love stories.

NOV
17

On Christmas Lists

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My sister is a great gift-giver. The best I know. She almost never asks me for ideas, she just spends the year quietly collecting things that make her think of me, things she thinks I'll like, and then I open her Christmas gifts having absolutely no idea what to expect. These kinds of gifts are my favorite to open, and they are usually spot on. Which proves what is possible when you truly know someone.

Cases in point. She bought and restored an old writing desk I adore and have schlepped across the country twice and still use. She tracked down the album of songs that a well-known hospital clown sang at Oakland Children's when I was a patient there in the late 1980s. Songs that I listened to for years afterward on a tape I eventually lost track of. Silly I guess, the songs, but being reunited with them so many years later was one of the biggest and most thoughtful surprises I've ever received. One I didn't ask for but loved.

If I ever had a child and found myself doing the family thing, I'd be tempted to implement a no-list policy. Meaning no one would be allowed to ask for specific things; rather we'd all just shop for each other based on what we knew the others would like. It means more, right? It's better, right? Of course, it's also harder. Not to mention, not everyone can do what my sister does. I think she has a knack. A gifting skill set. Whereas I always seem to say--about my own siblings and parents--"What on this green earth can I *possibly* get them?" Which seems an odd thing, being unsure what to buy for, say, the woman out of whose womb you tumbled forth. Um, maybe a pedicure? Some chocolates? I just DON'T KNOW!

Just yesterday I sent off my Christmas list to my two brothers and my parents, and it reminded me that 1) lists make it SO EASY to shop for people, and 2) on the receiving end, you know you'll be getting things from that list; things you definitely know you like/want/need/have been coveting. It's sort of like the proposal conundrum I talk about in Jeweled. How a girl probably appreciates the Leap of Faith more than the Slam Dunk, but then again, she does want to like the ring she gets. Insert something about tradeoffs here, and I don't have the answer. But I am curious, dear reader, do you prefer giving and working off of lists, or are you won over by the idea of the heartfelt crapshoot? Please answer. These things keep me up at night.

 

 

My sister is a great gift-giver. She almost never asks me for ideas, she just spends the year quietly

collecting things that make her think of me, things she thinks I’ll like, and then I open her Christmas gifts

having absolutely no idea what to expect. These kinds of gifts are my favorite to open, and they are

usually spot on. In terms of how much I like them. Which proves what is possible when you truly know

someone.

Cases in point. She bought and restored an old writing desk I adore and have schlepped across the

country twice and still use. She tracked down the album of songs that a well-known hospital clown sang

at Oakland Children’s when I was a patient there in the late 1980s. Songs that I listened to for years

afterward on a tape I eventually lost track of. Silly I guess, the songs, but being reunited with them so

many years later was one of the biggest and most thoughtful surprises I’ve ever received. One I didn’t

ask for but loved.

 

If I ever had a child and found myself doing the family thing, I’d be tempted to implement a no-list

policy. Meaning no one would be allowed to ask for specific things; rather we’d all just shop for each

other based on what we knew the others would like. It means more, right? It’s better, right? Of course,

it’s also harder. Not to mention, not everyone can do what my sister does. I think she has a knack. A

gifting skill set. Whereas I always seem to say—about my own siblings and parents—what on this green

earth can I possibly get them? Which seems an odd thing, being unsure what to buy for the woman out

of whose womb you tumbled forth. Maybe a pedicure? Some chocolates?

Just yesterday I sent off my Christmas list to my two brothers and my parents, and it reminded me that

1) lists make it SO EASY to shop for people, and 2) on the receiving end, you know you’ll be getting

things from that list; things you definitely know you’ll like/need/want/have been coveting. It’s sort of

like the proposal conundrum I talk about in Jeweled. How a girl probably appreciates the Leap of Faith

more than the Slam Dunk, but then again, she does want to like what she gets. Insert something about

tradeoffs here, and I don’t have the answer. But I am curious, dear reader, do you prefer giving and

working off of lists, or are you won over by the idea of a heartfelt crapshoot? Please answer. These

things keep me up at night.
NOV
07

The Typewriter

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I'd always wanted a vintage typewriter. I probably mentioned with glee when I finally acquired one last spring while living in New York City...the land where they have everything, including not only a plethora of vintage typewriters, but also people who can repair them and restore them and teach you how to use them and order you a new ribbon for your circa 1960s model. (The Typewriter Doctor)

Of course, the Typewriter Doctor will also charge you a fortune, but it's worth it. Right? To be able to plunk out darling, nostalgic notes for people. Or even for yourself. To write letters. To craft the most charming grocery and weekend to-do lists you ever thought possible. (You try typing 'Pay Target Bill' on a vintage typewriter and see if it doesn't make you feel downright excited to pay it.) But excited as I was on that sunny day when I schlepped the not exactly lightweight machine from 23rd Street to the subway and then from the 77th and Lex stop all the way over to 1st Avenue, I haven't used it. I blame the fact that I was in the thick of gemology studies. Then I was preparing to move across the country. Then I was actually moving across the country. Then I was getting settled on the other side of the country, starting a new job and figuring out how to properly apply sunscreen.

I feel I owe my typewriter a commitment to use him more, I'm just not sure it's a commitment I can confidently make. Not that you should interpret any of this to mean that Tali has suddenly become all down on vintage typewriters, because I haven't. I think every author should have one. For what though, I'm really not sure.

NOV
01

Lessons from a Pixie Cut

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This week marks one year since getting a pixie cut. I can't say enough about how much I've enjoyed it. That doesn't mean I always think it looks good. That doesn't mean all men like it. (The exception being really old men, who, without fail, smile, wink, and wave at you because you remind them of Julie Andrews or Audrey Hepburn.) But I always feel pretty bad-ass. A tweenager came up to me a few weeks ago and said, "I like your hair. You look like Tris from Divergent." So clearly I've accomplished everything I could have ever hoped to in life.

Seriously though, here's some advice to anyone who's considering a pixie.

The season doesn't matter. I cut mine in November. In New York City. Winter was upon us, and my stylist urged me to consider waiting until spring. But by then I may have chickened out. Besides, was the frigid NYC winter we were about to experience going to be measurably warmer with longer hair? Well, maybe. Ok, probably. But still. You would be cold regardless, so just chop it when you have the courage to chop it.

You won't look like a boy. I walked straight from the stylist to Sephora on E. 86th Street and had them give me a makeover. I bought everything they used on me, and in the beginning I was sure that unless I dolled myself up, complete with a headband or sparkly hair accessory, I would look like a boy. This is a stupid fear. Because hair doesn't have a monopoly on femininity. Take a look at notable pixies in the celebrity world. Emma Watson, Kaley Cuoco, Michelle Williams, and, most recently, Kate Mara, whose pixie is downright stunning and looks so much better than the longer hair she had previously. Are these women any less feminine? Or sexy? I would argue they are more so. So stop fretting. You still look like a girl.

Style with purpose. Every day my hair looks different. Depending on the product and the way I tousle it, I get something different. True, there are days I don't love the way it turns out. There are days I miss having hair. But as I think about growing it out, something inside me feels ickily ordinary. When I think back to a lifetime spent just pulling my hair back, piling it on top of my head, doing nothing with it, it makes me love the pixie even more. Think about it. It's a style. A style you have on purpose. A sexy and bold style you have on purpose that exudes confidence and makes others wish they had the huevos (and the cheekbones) to pull it off.

So do it. Get a pixie cut. Make November the month. Winter be damned. (Plus you can dress like Peter Pan for Halloween. Just saying.)

 

OCT
25

The Boys in the Boat

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If you haven't read this, you must find yourself a copy pronto. It is everything a good book should be. And it really happened.

That's all.

PS - Why didn't I ever become a rower? My arms would be so toned.

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