There are few things I loathe more than lists that tell women what clothes they need to give up once they reach a certain age: my view on the topic is that if you can pull it off, you should wear it—but that you would also be well-advised also pay close attention to your internal radar. Which, around six years ago, told me that it was time to say goodbye to miniskirts. Not because I’d reached any significant birthday, but because they just suddenly looked silly on me. Have you had similar moments, and with what? Conversely, what will you never give up?
I’m a hideous, hideous procrastinator. You?
For a living, I mean. Pardon me if that seems on the personal side, but I’m just so curious.
We’ll start with something thoroughly predictable coming from me: a Fornasetti candle. Not just because they’re pretty to look at, but because the Otto scent in particular—with notes of thyme, lavender, cedarwood, and birch—is heaven.
I have extolled the virtues of R13 jeans many times, but no list of items that bring me happiness would be complete without them, as theirs is the only denim I ever wear anymore. The folks at R13 have figured out the trick of how to make denim with stretch not look stretchy (which for me is the kiss of denim death), and the cut flatters those of us with actual hips. They are pricey, it is true. But because I pretty much live my life in jeans, I consider the investment to be worth it.
I live on the Lower East Side, on the very street where my grandmother was born, and not far from where my great-grandfather had his glass factory. And the sense of history and connection I derive from this is a big part of how I have learned to love my scrappy, un-manicured neighborhood after leaving the idyllic West Village. Most of the businesses that existed 100 years ago are long gone, but Russ & Daughters—famous purveyors of smoked fish—prevails. Their newish cafe on Orchard Street is loyal to the spirit of the original Houston Street store without drowning in retro, and they make a mean sturgeon and scrambled eggs. I do everything in my power to have all of my lunch dates meet me there.
You press a button on this curling iron and it automatically whirls your hair up on its own—a gimmick, perhaps, but one that actually works: I swear it makes my hair smoother than its non-whirly counterparts. And it gets hot enough to do the job, but not so hot that your hair starts to smoke.
Historically, I have been a disaster at growing plants, but when I moved into my current apartment, which has floor-to-ceiling windows and light for days, I figured I had no option but to try. Thank God for succulents—most of which I buy at neighborhood plant store Green Fingers—because as long as you get light, they’re all but un-killable. And they remind me of Los Angeles, the place I most fantasize about living when winter in New York gets deathly.
I have a habit of going too far between shampooing, a reality that would be altogether gross if it weren’t for this Oscar Blandi hair powder, which combats dirty hair flatness brilliantly, and has the best, just-washed lemony-fresh scent.
My friend Michelle and I met in June when I was in Massachusetts, and we discovered within the first minute of knowing each other that we lived in the same building—one floor apart. All I have ever wanted is a building bff, and even though she is much younger than me—Michelle is 27—she is the perfect specimen of just that. She can be goofy and kind of a spaz—in a good way—but she’s also deeply loyal and whip-smart and wise in a way one doesn’t necessarily expect somebody in their twenties to be wise. And she makes me the best playlists on Spotify.
Of all the bags I own—and I own (and continue to acquire) quite a few—it is my Clare Vivier Sac Bretelle that sees the most action. It fits a surprising amount, goes with everything, and wears incredibly well.
I’m disloyal in the extreme when it comes to mascara—I routinely fall for one, then trade up once I find something I’m convinced is better—but there is only one eyeliner for me, and it’s this one from YSL. Because it goes on just thick enough to make my eyes pop, but not so thick that I look scary, and because its felt-tip-ish applicator makes it easy for even makeup clods like me to apply.
Transparent makes hating Amazon really hard: it’s so brave, smart, funny, and poignant—and just delightfully, unabashedly Jewish, which is something that you almost never see.
My Nespresso Pixie machine, tempermental as it is.
And finally, these guys: my nephews Abe, Eli and Henry (here at our family’s house in Sag Harbor last summer), who are three of the cleverest, sweetest, most hilarious and altogether fantastic creatures I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. For a variety of reasons both within and outside of my control, I’ve never become a mom. But the love I feel for these boys has an intensity unlike any love I’ve ever felt. I am grateful to my brothers and their wives for sharing them so generously with me.
And then of course, there’s all of you, who make my life better every year: your humor, your loyalty and your smarts are a constant inspiration. You’ve made my life richer.
And with that, I leave you for the holidays. For those of you who love this time of year: go forth and enjoy. For those of you whose feelings run more toward loathing: it’ll all be over soon. I’ll be back on the 4th, so see you then.
The other day in the comments on my post about gifts that give back, beloved reader Mamavalveeta made a very good point. “I love the idea of gifts that give back, and it’s also important to remember to just GIVE too!” I’m guessing that most of you do in fact give, and am curious to know where. My current list includes Planned Parenthood, because of course.* And the wonderful Ali Forney Center in New York for homeless gay teenagers (who represent a disproportionate number of teen runaways in this country because they’re so often kicked out of their homes). And finally, The Innocence Project, which works to exonerate people on death row by presenting DNA and other evidence.
*I realize that some of you might hold alternate views on this one. I am honestly interested in hearing where all of you give—this could be a fantastic resource if enough of you respond—so let’s respect all of our various values in the comments.
I don’t think of misery, but of the beauty that still remains.
To my small army of GOACA readers in Paris: I am hoping you are well, and that everyone you’ve ever loved—or even liked—is well. What you’ve just endured is unimaginable, but know this: us New Yorkers never thought our lives would return to normal after the horror of 9/11, but they did, in time. Paris will come back up off its knees too, probably sooner than later. No city as fluent in love as yours will stay down for long.