Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Clog's Tale

So look, here's the thing with clogs: I just can't quit them.

I don't know what it is about those blocky, sturdy, husky little fuckers, but my heart swells when I see a pair of clogs go stomping by. Any pair. I can't explain it. I can't pretend it's a noble or even interesting preoccupation. Abandon hope, all ye naysayers. Here's my clog rundown.

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If you hadn't heard, Swedish Hasbeens are an unholy menace. I tossed my sandal pair because they fell apart (never having gotten completely comfortable), and the red pair lives under my desk. Every once in a while I'll put them on for an hour, then remove them and angrily stuff them back under my desk. Useless. Waste of money. Horrible things.

Then, I branched out into the clog boot world with this Nina Z pair. After adding a gel insert, these guys became a staple pair of shoes for me. The soles did wear down to the wood, so I took them to the cobbler and they look and feel like new again. Love Nina Z.

Somehow, I found a pair of Rachel Comey clogs on supppperrrr sallleeee so I hopped to it. I usually only wear these for fancy events, because I'm scared I'll ruin them. They're also pretty high, but padded for comfort. Lovely.

In Paris last year, I grabbed a pair of Kerstin Adolphson sandals in beige. I think they were a sample and marked down, so they ended up costing something ludicrous like $40. I wore them all summer with very little breaking in to do. Unfortunately, the wood completely splintered and the straps stretched out, so they have since moved on to the Great Shoe Closet in the sky.

THEN one day it occurred to me that No. 6 clogs were not as impossible as they'd once been. While their boots were crazy expensive, the Old School Clog was... attainable. Not cheap, but not a fuck-you price, either. And they looked real good: the perfect height, beautifully understated design, seriously worth it. (Understand, I've spent years trying to nail down a simple, mid-heeled baby made out of materials that will last. No. 6 is really the only place that can do it.)

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For months, I'd find myself longingly staring at these goddamn clogs on the No. 6 site, or breathlessly searching the brand and size plus "sale," or ebaying frantically when the mood struck. Then one day I went, oh for fuck's sake. I'm a 27-year-old adult type. I just got a raise. [ed: I had.] I'm getting some goddamn fucking clogs and that's the end of it.

So I did.

And they are wonderful.



The story is, I decided to get them on my first free weekend, which ended up being the day I found my wedding dress. It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon, and I meandered from the West Village through Washington Square Park and finally ended at the No. 6 store. You have to buzz in.

The inside is vair Scandi chic. All the ladies wear Rachel Comey and Acne—both shoppers and sales people, obviously. It's the kind of place where women show up, impulse buy four pairs of shoes and then drift off to set fire to a Birkin, or something.

I tried on the softer, nubuck leather and my feet just wept. Glorious. Even the wood is higher quality, and they're treated with a finish to keep the whole thing weatherproof and solid.

Ultimately, I preferred the look of the stiffer, classic leather. How's the sizing? I decided to go about true to size/slightly size up, so for my 9.5/10 feet I went with a 41. The store has to order the exact pair, and then you pick them up a week or two later.

I'm not going to sugar coat this: they take a few weeks to break in. To start, I wore them around the office with socks. Then with bandaids. THEN I wore them au naturale, and I knew they were ready for the Subway Test.

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As a New Yorker, I treat my shoes like utter shit. I walk everywhere, literally run into things, step in stuff, regularly fall up and down stairs. These guys handled everything with aplomb. My only issue is the openings are stiffer than the rest of the shoe, so one unfortunate tumble—I tripped on the stairs, the shoe fought my tender flesh, the shoe won—ended with a pretty sizeable gash in my ankle.

I did also chip the back of one shoe, but because the wood is so tough, it didn't splinter. My cobbler simply glued the piece back and refinished it, and we're in business.

And that's it, really. It's more of a clog saga. I am fully, utterly in love with No. 6, and I am saving my pennies for the open toe weave guys. Any clog stories to share? I am all ears, and hooves.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Fatwakening Part II: A Hedonist Buckles Down

Part I

My lifelong impression of Weight Watchers was this: it was for fat, middle-aged women who used nutritionally bankrupt products and "cheats" to yo yo diet forever.

But I started poking around and what I saw across the board was that WW taught people how to adjust their eating habits without turning to fad diets. That technique was proven to effectively lose weight and (most importantly) keep it off. My boss did it, a friend worked for the company and I decided to just try it and see what happened.

The first few weeks were a bit of a mind fuck. I realized just how horribly I'd been eating for... forever. And some foods I thought were "good" for me were insanely caloric and contributed to the whole mess that was my body. The main lesson WW teaches is that you can't have ALL of the food, ALL of the time. So if I wanted to get drinks with friends after work, I knew that I needed to have a smart lunch, then be very strict about how many drinks I sucked down.



It was hard. I felt like I wasn't able to go out and have as much fun as I wanted. I needed to plan everything ahead of time, like assembling healthy lunches and strategizing how many mischief I was allowed to get into on weekends. I wasn't a big drinker or anything, but just 2 drinks had enough WW points to fuck my entire week if I wasn't smart about it.

My fiancé was so supportive, cooking better meals and being sensitive about how much I could eat and drink at restaurants. Friends initially couldn't really get why I wasn't up for going out and letting go, but soon enough it all became—if not effortless—easier.

A caveat: I still have some issues with Weight Watchers. They push foods that, while low in point value, still aren't that good for you (off the top of my head: frozen meals, diet soda and fat-free candy bar things). The app is an atrocity. And the workout section is a joke—there are point values for painting a fence but not for a spin class. I know it's because the program really doesn't rely on any active behavior, and that's another issue I have with it.

As we approached our trip to Europe, I felt like I was finally seeing results. People noticed that I was losing weight, and I had already dropped to a size that didn't keep me up at night. But no matter what I did, I still felt a little off after some meals. With some trial and error, I pulled a Goop and preliminarily self-diagnosed as gluten-intolerant, then went to a doctor for a scratch test to rule out any allergies.

It turns out I'm allergic to wheat.

Oh. That explained... a lot. And while some (like my doctor uncle) don't put much stock in scratch tests, it led me to completely eliminate wheat and stop throwing myself gluten partayyys to see how I reacted.

In an adverb: wonderfully. Not drinking beer or whiskey and avoiding all the best foods was Suck Fest City. But I certainly couldn't argue with the almost instantaneous improvement in my health and appearance. My skin suddenly lost most of its redness and I realized I wasn't tired and bloated nearly all the time. I stopped getting dizzy and haven't had a migraine since.

I wouldn't say that going gluten-free was THE key part of losing weight, because some of my biggest problem foods, like Thai food takeout, are naturally gluten-free. But knowing I couldn't sneak an entire box of Velveeta shells anymore (yikes) absolutely kept me on track.

SO. I didn't drop the weight overnight, and there were weeks at a time that I plateaued or even gained a few pounds. But after about 6 months of WW and keeping up with 3-5 Bar Method classes a week, I lost 40 pounds.

Let's see the goods:


Without naming specific numbers (because comparison is the thief of joy), I haven't weighed this little since high school.

I lost about:

  • 3 inches off my waist
  • 3 inches off my hips
  • 2 shirt sizes
  • 2-4 dress sizes (depending on the brand)
  • And my face, arms and legs are noticeably slimmer
Bar Method really tightens everything up, which was a contributor to the inches lost. When I go more than 2 days without a class, all my parts start loosening up like rebellious teenagers.

Before

Call it "after"—for now.
It's not necessarily an impressive story. It wasn't 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I don't have any secret. When my fellow Bar Method girls complemented my new shape and asked what I was doing (SoulCycle? Juice Cleanse? Any tips??) I had to break the news: it was just good, old fashioned not being an asshole at meals. And it still takes daily work to make better choices (PS I had a huge, disgusting bowl of pad thai for lunch today, so).

If you offered me a pill that would make me skinny and stay that way with no work, I would IMMEDIATELY start eating like a slob again.

But! It's been over a year and I've pretty much maintained this weight. I am both proud and a little frustrated: while I can keep the weight off, I know I'll have to get strict again to lose more. And I do want to keep going.

So that's it! No words of wisdom. Just if you want to start losing weight, you can't eat Chipotle twice in one day, every day. Sorry.

The Fatwakening Part I: Learning to Bar

A little over two years ago, I looked in the mirror—really looked—and went, ok. It's time. I mean, wow, congratulations, me. I'd actually reached a point where I both looked and felt like shit.

Everyone's body is different, but personally I had reached a point that wasn't working for me anymore. 

Admittedly unflattering dress on the left, but hey I sewed it myself

The first scary size milestone I hit was easy to reason away: relationship honeymoon, work stress, accepting the "real me" (whatever that means, since this new person was unfamiliar to everyone in my life, including myself). But then even those clothes started getting tight. I was staring down the barrel at a size that I was definitely not, under any circumstances, okay with.

I dreaded seeing new pictures of myself. My friend's wedding was coming up and I was really not in the mood to be the token fat chick. I felt uncomfortable most of the time, and mealtimes were a confusingly bright/horrible time when I ate whatever I wanted—and only stopped when I felt sick.

What I needed was a workout. A workout that I would actually do.

I know myself well enough to admit that, while I'd played field hockey and water polo in high school, I would absolutely never take myself to the gym often enough to make an impact. Why run when you can, you know... not?

I found a barre studio near work with wonderful teachers and a community of women who treated it like therapy. And so The Bar Method was the first real step.

Spoiler alert: "after"

After a few months of regular Bar Method—waking up at 6:25am to get to the 7:30 class, trudging past chipper construction workers and lugging bags of makeup and clothes to-and-from work a few times a week—I felt strong. My posture improved. I was better, right guys? Guys?

I certainly felt better. But my body didn't really reflect any of it. The women in my classes had long, slim limbs and beautifully toned torsos and I didn't. I was furious with myself. I knew under layers and layers (and layers) of chub, I was hiding so much hard work.

My family is active and revels in eating healthfully. My fiancé lost a significant amount of weight himself in college. I had all the resources to change the way I ate. Why couldn't I do it?

"Just stop eating so much," you say, and looking back on it, of course it's that easy. But when you're in it, it truly does feel like an impossible, insurmountable task. Every day is a series of choices that set you up for failure. When you're tired, or sad, or stressed or really happy, it's HAARD to pick salads or ancient grains or whatever the fuck over an enormous bowl of pad thai.

So as the (very lapsed) Catholic I am, I decided to try something with rigid structure and penalties: Weight Watchers.

To be continued...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Bright Side

At the end of the day, I blame Pinterest.

Here and there, innocently enough, pale girls with blinding white blonde hair appeared in my feed like little peroxide pixies. Their makeup popped, their clothes looked cool, their eyes sparkled with the knowledge that their routines were MUCH higher-maintenance than mine.

I'd been a fan of eccentric, towheaded Harriet from Bright Young Twins for a while—and Gwen Stefani and Debbie Harry obviously—but suddenly, the siren song of platinum-ness warbled.

It was a bullshitty quote from hairstylist Oribe in Allure that did it: Every woman should try platinum at least once.

Yeaaahhhhhhhh! I mean, fuck it. I'm young. What's the worst that could happen? You only YOLO once.

It was decided: I was going to bleach the fuck out of my hair. So I struck out, Odysseus post-Troy. Except my quest was way stupider.

My then-current salon could do a double process in 4ish hours, but it would cost $500, probably. Oh.

Another worthy contender would do the double process for much cheaper, but the stylist was a flake who literally left me out in the cold with a scheduling mixup. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, fuck you, I'm on a QUEST.

I agreed to see a friend's longtime stylist and she ended up being lovely AND affordable. Sold!

"Before" and "Don't mind if I do"
The double process took 4-5 hours altogether, from bleaching to toning and glossing. I'd heard horror stories of writhing in pain, peeling skin, burning everywhere, but somehow I ended up winning the scalp lottery.

"What have I done" and "After"

I did almost keel over with shock when the towel came off and a big, flesh-toned blob of face/hair stared back at me. It took a blow dry, a long, very awkward subway ride home (freshly dyed platinum attracts attention, who knew?) and a little time in front of the mirror for me to fall in luuuuurve.


My hair, which had always been nice—though I say it myself—suddenly became a Thing. It was a lifestyle. I was Khaleesi. Hair floated around me, wispy, damaged, conversation-starting. It could look chic with a cateye, or it could be fashunnn with bright lipstick and a topknot. (Although sans-makeup, I looked like an albino boy.)

I loaded up on coconut oil, deep treatments, keratin spray, purple shampoo. Because bleached hair is so delicate, I only washed it 2-3 times a week. One of those washes, I used purple shampoo to tone down the brassy color. (Side note, that stuff spattered over the walls looks like the murder scene of a beloved children's TV icon.)

Rather than hating the maintenance, I'd camp out in the bathroom and lovingly nourish my desiccated strands. The salon visits were actually cheaper (single process) and happened every 4-6 weeks, same as with highlights.

On the other hand, my beautiful, effortless waves were replaced by a deranged mess, à la Dee Snider, that needed quite a bit of styling to look even half as good as before. Plus, there's the constant breakage. Despite braiding my hair every night, I ended up with baby hairs all around my face.


If the texture were the only issue, I would probably stick it out for a while longer. But for my wedding, I don't want a look. I know white hair would be ethereal and pretty against my skin and dress, but for the big day, I want to be classic and as much "me" as possible.

So I'm going back to a color that's found in nature. Au revior, platinum. We hardly knew ye.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tada

Tap tap. Is this thing on? Hello, internet! It is I! I'm back!



Guys, it's been a hell of a year. And look, I feel refreshed and invigorated and I have so much to talk about.

 For one thing, I got engaged. I know!

I think I speak for the two of us when I say we're disgustingly, sickeningly in love and we're very excited. I'm consciously deciding to plight my troth to someone until I DIE. It's crazy. But in a good way.



Who would have thought I'd a) fall in love with someone who b) wants to marry me and c) has ACTUALLY asked me to do so without threats or nagging, and d) allowed us to make plans and have stupid discussions like well, should we have a lounge setup? I feel like we need one but, like, we'll have actual chairs anyway and why should we dish out that much extra for a tatty couch people can sit on for maybe whole MINUTES when we could splash out on the croquembouche? I don't know.

As you'd imagine, I have much to say on the subject of weddings and marriage and wedding planning.

In no particular order, I also:

  • Lost 40 pounds. I did it through sheer willpower (code: Weight Watchers), sweat, tears and a gym whose monthly dues I sometimes bring up in polite company as a party trick. 
  • Got LASIK. Ho boy. This is a story. 
  • Dyed my hair platinum. 
  • Achieved Sephora VIB AGAIN hashtag whoops.
  • Got diagnosed with a... drumroll... wheat allergy! And I'm gluten intolerant, too. That explains a lot.
  • Started playing Dungeons and Dragons, because of course I did. 
  • Took a French class at Coucou Brooklyn. 
  • Saw some amazing theater and shows and movies. 
  • Went to four weddings this summer. I was also the maid of honor at my best friend's wedding and saw my other best friend get engaged and start this madness alongside me. 
  • Helped my parents move from my hometown of Chicago to Boulder, CO. 

And that's just the things that leap out at me right now. So why did I go radio silent? I guess I was just tired of blogs and blogging. I keep up with hundreds of blogs, from the Gawker empire to the Awl and co, to endless personal ones. One-by-one they've all (maybe minus the Awl) gone from honest, unflinching, creative, funny, raw essays and accounts of people's lives to listicles and sponsored, wooden nonsense. I think lifestyle bloggers, in particular, must feel trapped. They turned blogs into businesses, and now they need to keep using their kids and their personal lives to sell, sell, sell.

I mean, I get it! I work in advertising. Maybe that's why I'm sensitive to it? It's just SO EASY to give a blogger money to shill something to thousands of captive readers. And if someone offered me $5k to profess my love for a product I didn't hate, I might take it.

I'm not in that solar system of blogging, durr, but "blogging" as a Thing is just boring and exhausting, so I stopped. After all, I still write everyday at work. I tweet and 'gram and I journal a bit for myself using OhLife. But this year is going to be CRAZY and I want to put it out there, somewhere, without needing it to be funny and snappy (Twitter) or disguising it as a curated caption (Instagram).

 So. That's it, really it. Let's get started, shall we?