Getting over everything

I was washing my hands in the bathroom at work today and I glanced in the mirror, which I usually avoid because the lighting is terrible and I always look tired. I never look the way I expect to, somehow. The way I used to. The way I feel. But I glanced at myself anyway and then I looked closer and then I wondered if I should wear more makeup. Or less makeup. If my hair was too short. If I looked tired (I looked tired). And then I wondered if or why any of that mattered.

Then I remembered this picture of director Guillermo del Toro speaking at an event earlier this month, which struck me as remarkable because of how comfortable he looks. This is not a man who's thinking he needs to suck in his stomach because he's sitting in front of an audience. This is just a person sitting.

And tonight I read this article on Laura Dern in New York Magazine:

Ladd and Dern separated when Laura was 2 years old, and she grew up surrounded by outspoken, independent women — her mother’s friends from her Actors Studio days in New York City: Maureen Stapleton, Jean Stapleton, Gena Rowlands, and Geraldine Page. “They never cared about being glamorous, and that was what made them so glamorous to me — and sexy! They were just like men. I didn’t see a difference. They all wanted to be in the mud.” Dern has a vivid recollection of attending the premiere of Superman in 1978, when she was 11. She and her mother were the guests of one of the stars, another Actors Studio grad, Marlon Brando. Also in attendance: the actress Shelley Winters, Dern’s godmother.

“I remember getting out of the car,” says Dern, “and the red carpet was filled with glitz and glamour, women in gowns and high heels. And there was Shelley, wearing jeans with Tretorn sneakers and a gray sweatshirt, a full-length mink coat balanced on her shoulders. No makeup, her hair kind of messy. It was so fierce. And I remember thinking, I want to be that kind of woman.”

I want to be that kind of woman. I want to be just a person sitting.

this quote I love from writer Erin McKean:

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.

I would get a tattoo of that on my arm, if I had longer arms.

Xmas 2017

This kid really cracks me up. Somebody gave him a farm set with a bunch of little plastic animals and he crowed like a rooster for approximately 15 minutes.

My best things: 2017

A working list...

The best thing I did for myself in 2017 was cut off all my hair. It made me 1,000 years younger and lighter and happier. I recommend it to anyone with a head.

The best things I read in 2017: Lincoln in the Bardo and This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare. I didn't read many books this year, which I regret, but these are difficult times and in difficult times I crave a steady brain-numbing diet of The Big Bang Theory. Sorry man. I know it's the flamin' hot Cheetos of network TV.

The best thing I watched in 2017: The Leftovers. Also The Big Sick. Both are warm and generous and funny and sad and smart as hell. Other best things, on Netflix (thumbs up Netflix): Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King, Mike Birbiglia: Thank God for Jokes.

The best thing I consumed in 2017: afternoon tea service at Janam Tea, which is a cozy, slightly fussy little spot tucked away above a burger joint on the Lower East Side and which at night becomes a speakeasy. I swallowed 65 finger foods and a billion pots of tea in two hours but still I wanted more.

The best thing I replaced in 2017: my microwave. Now I can eat Amy's cheddar cheese burritos at least 10 times a week, the way the lord intended.

The best thing I dropped on the bathroom floor in 2017: a whole bottle of Chanel COCO. Very expensive accidental room fragrance and an exercise not likely to be repeated.

The best twitter account I followed in 2017: it's a tie between We Rate Dogs and  Cute Emergency (both oldies but still goodies). When in doubt, go to the dogs.

The best tweet I faved in 2017 was this one. A close second was this one from Kevin Biegel, a TV producer who keeps a life-sized cutout of Dame Judi Dench in his stairwell, known (naturally) as the Stairwell Dench.

The best Instagram account I followed in 2017: Westiegram (see above re the dogs). + my favorite New York City account ++ my favorite Chicago account

The best thing I bought from Amazon in 2017 was without a doubt this Hypoallergenic Pillow – ADJUSTABLE THICKNESS Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow - Kool-Flow Micro-Vented Bamboo Cover, Dust Mite Resistant & Machine Washable - Premium Quality - MADE IN USA - QUEEN — which is to say "a pillow." It saved my life. (I also did a tally on all my Amazon purchases for the year and let's just say I finally figured out where all my money goes.)

The best thing I realized in 2017 was that I don't have to care about everything. Last week I listened to a Too Embarrassed to Ask podcast on teens & fake news and the hosts kept asking this kid why he's not freaking out about the state of the world and finally he said "My English paper is more important than collusion." And I thought, yes. It is. Just as the fate of the world does not rest upon my public participation in every moral or social outrage or idiotic miscarriage of justice. It's not lost on me that every new day reveals a new horror, but I can no longer operate at a level of anxiety that dials every single emotion up to 100. Not if I expect to see 2018.

On faith & choices

TV shows reflect the people who make them, but few shows make you feel the creator’s sensibility as palpably as Sherman-Palladino’s. She is a woman of specific tastes: She likes pink, sparkles, and Dorothy Parker, whom her production company is named after, Minnie Mouse (obviously), hats, energy, movement, and using lots of words, except when expressing love, which one should express with deeds, lest things get “schmaltzy.” She writes to delight us by delighting herself, and sometimes, as with the residents of Stars Hollow, the bowler hat in Lorelai’s wedding wardrobe, or the way men unfailingly swoon at her series’ charming but self-centered heroines, she is delighted by things we may not be but that are part of the viewing experience, part of watching something made by someone who has an implacable faith in her own preferences.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is delightful in every way.

Working while female

Documentary producer Sheila Nevins at the New York Times:

“If women want to parade as pinups, that has nothing to do with harassment,” Ms. Nevins says. “If I look at a delicious ad for ice cream, I don’t have to devour it or slobber it down. If women sell a product by being provocative, that’s not an invitation to be harassed or abused as professionals in a workplace. There are many faces of Eve. No presentation she chooses says, ‘Abuse me.’”

Pipes of peace

Enjoy these photos from yesterday's Pipes of Peace celebration, an annual event centered around bagpipes, a drum corps, a foxy Scottish reader, a Presbyterian church on Madison Avenue, cocktails at the Carlyle, and dinner at Bistro Chat Noir. Too many cocktails, maybe. But zero regrets.

My favorite exchange of the day, re plans for Christmas:

Byrne to Sarah: "Are you going home?"

Sarah: "No, I'm going to Star Wars."

George Saunders on “A Christmas Carol”

On the occasion of my annual viewing of A Muppet Christmas Carol, here's George Saunders on the book he wishes he'd written:

I love the book’s boldness, how willing it is to throw an arm around the reader and say: This concerns you too. Near the end, Scrooge stands looking at what everyone in the world except Scrooge must by now know is Scrooge’s own grave. The reader can’t help imagining his or her own grave, and to have the same reaction Scrooge is having: That grave is similar to mine, but it is not mine, since mine will never exist, since I am not going to die. Then that bony finger juts out, urging Scrooge to look, and he gets the message, and so do we: death is real, time is short – yes, even for us. But for now, the world exists (it still exists!) and is seen, correctly, as a kind of joyous field of potential play: a place to learn to love.