Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is That Your Most Serious Skirt?

You want to be taken seriously? Stop dressing like a little girl.

-Joan Holloway

Suit up!

-Barney Stintson

I love clothes. I love to shop. If I’m honest, it’s actually very important to me to look put together and nice whether I’m in class, at work or in a social setting. Blog posts about smart girls who also happen to care about the way they look seem to be popping up all over the place right now (especially on Jezebel, a site I like but have a wary relationship with) and truthfully I don't get what the fuss is about. Yeah, it's sexist that women are more harshly judged on their appearance--but it's also sexist to say we're stupid for caring about the way we look. Plenty of women care about their appearance and still manage to be intellectuals, feminists and generally very interesting human beings. And yeah, others are obnoxious biddies who like to yap about spray tanning and acrylics in the middle of Anthropology lecture. But that's not what I'm talking about here.

I know that for me looking good is not about getting people to look at me, it’s about presenting myself in way that’s neat, pretty and pulled together. That's why I like what Joan tells Peggy in that Mad Men quote. People take you more seriously when you look like you thought about what you put on this morning and like you're carefully considering the way you present yourself to the world. It's is not about attracting attention or wearing my boob shirt to Sociology—well, I don’t have a boob shirt, mainly because I don’t have boobs, but you get the idea. (Don't get me wrong-- there's a time and place for boob shirts too.) It simply makes me feel confident and even kind of powerful to know that I look like I have my shit together, even when I don’t.

For instance: The next time you get a shitty cold, take a long hot shower and some Dayquil, then put on some blush, mascara and your favorite outfit. (Maybe skip the mascara if you're a dude...) But come on—you feel just a teeny bit better, right? Right. Go carpe the fucking diem.

I’m not defending the fashion industry by any means, but I am defending the right (of everyone, not just women) to have a sense of style without being written off as vapid. (Some people really just don't care what they wear, and that's totally cool too.) Fashion, in the commercial sense at least, I could care less about. My Calvin Klein jeans were four bucks at the Goodwill. Logo-slathered handbags don't interest me, and labels for the sake of labels leave me cold. But I love beautiful things, good design, putting together outfits and yeah, scoring a bargain. (Blame my grandmother.)

There are college girls who are studying astrophyics while rocking skinny jeans and leather boots, and there are women who run Fortune 500 companies in Louboutins. First Lady Michelle Obama is a lawyer who happens to be buds with Isabel Toledo and Narciso Rodriguez. I can write you a kickass paper about Henry V or juggle five newspaper articles a week, but I also watch a lot of What Not to Wear. Smart and stylish are not mutually exclusive. Joan Holloway knows what's up.

Monday, September 27, 2010

In Praise of Slobs

"I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis."
-Truman Capote, my kind of guy.

Let's take a moment to praise the sloppy, the slovenly, and the scatter-brained. We are the wrinkled ones, and the spaghetti-sauce stained ones. The ones who leave sandwiches in hard to reach places only to discover them later when the smell of rotting ham begins to become unbearable. We're the people who have hundreds of dollars worth of bins and baskets from Ikea, which we buy in the blind hope that these sleek umlaut-sprinkled Swedish imports will organize our lives but they never do.

I grew up in a family of slobs. Actually, I'm possibly the neatest person in the family, but I am, irredeemably, a slob. My boyfriend very kindly doesn't express his horror when he comes over to my house, which I imagine to be something akin to that of a nineteenth century anthropologist stumbling into a camp of headshrinking Indians in South America. Except they probably manage to put the cap back on the toothpaste.

Now, I've never been the kind of person who would let anyone think I'm a slob. It's very important to me to have my shit together--school, work, my own personal appearance. I don't lose stuff, or do tasks shoddily, or flake out on people. But when it comes to chores I'm a hopeless corner-cutter. Dishes get left lying around until I have to chisel crusted milk and cereal paste off them with a spoon, which in turn tends to get bent in half. I sometimes forget to put a liner in the trash can and inevitably there ends up being a glob of gum, hair and yogurt dribbles at the bottom that pretty much looks like Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Fucking gross, I know.

But guess what, neat freaks. Your anal-retentive personality is statistically speaking going to kill you. Yeah, I still can't color right or cut construction paper in a straight line. My microwave is a Ramen noodle encrusted disgrace. My brothers still can't put up the toilet seat, let alone put it down when they're done. My sister is incapable of taking off a garment and putting it anywhere but the floor. But if you're one of those people with color coded hangers that organize your wardrobe by season and then by type of event, I have news for you: my slovenly siblings and I are going to live longer than you.

The thing is, I'm busy: working, reporting, studying, reading, writing, and yeah, occasionally watching Gossip Girl or something equally enriching. I think a majority of messy people just have other things on their mind, which is why I hate it when slobby people get equated with lazy people. (You know who was a disaster? Einstein.) Sometimes I have to slog through a tape-recorded interview and turn it into a story. Sometimes I sit down and write for three hours because I have to. Sometimes I start daydreaming--which my fiction professor claims is legitimate "work" if you're a writer, although I have a hard time with that concept. Sometimes I call or visit a friend and end up talking for two hours. And sometimes I wind up writing a blog post, which is what I'm doing right now instead of taking out my recycling. I have a lot to say. And sometimes, I just don't get around to the other stuff. I can live with that.

Now, you'll have to excuse me but it's four o'clock. Time to switch to martinis.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Maybe Don't.

Maybe don't air your relationship issues in your Facebook statuses. It was one thing when we were fifteen, but now I have peers who are married. Give it a break.

Maybe don't dress like a prostitute in church. I understand having issues with organized religion, but very few spiritual dilemmas are solved by dressing like you're on your way to chill with Eliot Spitzer. Just saying.

Maybe don't have a full on conversation in the movies, you douche. I know I sound like I'm seventy years old, but I really like going to the movies and you're ruining it, okay? It costs eleven bucks to see a movie. You could stand in the lobby and yap about your best friend's cousin's drug addict ex-boyfriend for free. Simple math.

Maybe don't come up to me and say "Wow, you sound awful!" when you hear me coughing...I know I have one of those coughs that would foreshadow my imminent and tragic death if I were in a movie set in Victorian England, but I don't actually know you. And now it's all awkward. Look what you did.

Maybe don't get to a point in your life where you have nothing to talk about except the last time you were so totally wasted, brah. If you're going to be a lush, at least be a lush with something entertaining to say.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Je t'aime Montreal, Or Reasons I'm Moving to Canada.

1. There are lots of little dogs, and also lots of adorable children speaking French. You know who doesn't like cute kids speaking foreign languages and dogs riding in bike baskets? Dicks.

2. The food is out of control. Also, expensive. I would be broke within a month, but I would have spent that single orgasmic month eating croissants and gorgeous little salads and the kind of steaks that make you want to cry, so whatever.

3. No one wears sweatpants in public in Montreal. It's amazing.

4. They put truffles on your breakfast. As in, exquisitely beautiful handpainted little chocolates AT BREAKFAST.

5. Better coffee, wine, beer, and candy bars.

6. Rue St. Catherine, Boulevard St. Laurent and Rue St. Denis.

7. Arcade Fire is from there. Which is not really a reason, but makes a point about the kind of city Montreal is.

8. Everyone is bilingual and proud of it. Bizarrely enough, nobody puts those "I Shouldn't Have to Press 1 For English!" bumper stickers on their Smartcars and Priuses.

9. Canada in general has a strange dearth of Koran-burning preachers and Senate candidates running on a "No Wanking" platform. It's a nice place.

yeah, yeah, I realize they have a new album out and Pitchfork is getting a boner over it. I like the old stuff better. and this is my blog.

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Open Letter to Taylor Swift

Girl. Really. You are not a fairy princess. You are not a precious little lamb. You are not a special snowflake. Stop it. Sure, the blonde curly hair and the country songs about sparkly pickup trucks and sparkly ponies and sparkly apple pie was all well and good when you were fifteen, but how old are you?

Wikipedia says you're twenty, which is my age. Now, I had princess phase like anyone else but I grew out of it and started having conversations about things other than prom dresses and boys and how awesome my daddy is.

I suspect, Taylor, that you would get eaten alive in the world of most twenty-year-olds. I suspect you've never thrown up last night's tequila at a baby shower. So props for that, because it's not fun. But I also bet you've never gone illicitly night swimming in the university pool at two in the morning, or spent seven hours on a Greyhound talking to a woman you're pretty sure is a crack dealer, or come close to beating my kegstand time, or done quite a few other things that I could list here but won't because it's come to my attention that my mom reads my blog. Point is, Tay Tay, non-princesses have more fun.

I'm not suggesting you make a sex tape, or start flashing your vag at the paparazzi everytime you get out of car. I understand that the sweet little country princess thing is your schtick. You gotta get a gimmick, and I'm sure you thank God every day that you did because otherwise you'd just be an awkward, frizzy haired girl who's a music theater major at a community college. Last night, though, your gimmick took another step away from "naive but cute" and towards "bewildering and smug". Whoever runs the celebrity self-congratulation fest called the VMAs decided that it would be dramatic to let you sing your song "I Forgive You Kanye Because You're Sad and Immature and I'm a Fairy Princess". It was bad. Like, really bad. (Lyrics aside, the girl can't sing. Don't get me wrong, I love to drunkenly yell-sing "You Belong With Me" as much as the next female college student, but I want that shit produced within an inch of its life.) It's officially time to consider a new gimmick, Taylor. Also, give Kanye a break. All he wants is a simple Persian rug with cherub imagery. Is that really too much to ask?