A Separate Peace/Piece of Mind

Taken at The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens

A married friend of mine once sighed, "I wish I was single again. I mean, I don't, but I do. You know what I mean." I do. I know exactly what she means–and it has nothing to do with dating around. I think it has to do with this feeling of wholeness and the freedom to guiltlessly make decisions based purely on what you want–and you, alone.

Dr. Pat Allen, the renowned relationship expert and therapist, once said something along the lines of: "In a committed relationship, the masculine energyusually a man–gives up his/her irresponsibility and the feminine energy–usually a woman–gives up his/her independence."  It sounds like an awfully bleak and dreary creed for feminine-energy women. Can a man's irresponsibility really be worth a woman's independence? I question whether that's a fair trade-off. (Whether or not a man can ever let go of his irresponsibility is another question altogether.)

I find myself gravitating toward committed relationships yet, at the same time, holding my cherished alone time near and dear. Without it, I feel deprived. I've repeatedly fallen into the same pattern of getting swept up in the beginnings of a relationship, only to find myself nearly dissolved in the process. This is a recurring conundrum that I face and I know that I'm probably not the only one. It seems to be a universal one among women. 

Possessing an independent spirit is such a precious thing, even when–like me–you're living with your boyfriend in the middle of the mountains with nobody else around for miles around. I don't think that I could ever relinquish ownership of that–even if, in an extreme case, the independence in question is reduced to having one's own mind. If anything, I think that's where it should start


One of my favorite finds in Copenhagen were these felted wool clogs by a brand called Glerups. They're pretty much the epitome of hygge, pronounced /hyoo-gah/, which is a Danish concept closely resembling our idea of "cozy". These stylish indoor shoes were meant for coccooning in the winter months. Slip them on with bare feet and they'll keep your toes toasty and warm. Trust me, all you'll want to do is curl up on the sofa, throw a blanket on top of yourself, and sip on hot tea. (For extra hygge factor, light some nice candles.)

The Secret Life of an Oyster

Last month, I had an appointment for a facial at Skin Worship, a lash extension and skincare clinic in Beverly Hills that I'd found none other than scrolling around on Instagram. It had been years since I had had a facial, but I decided that 2017 was going to be the year I'd dedicate more attention to my personal well-being. When I entered the waiting room, instead of a receptionist, I was greeted with a little book titled The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Guidebook, which sat next to a deck of tarot-inspired cards. Always a sucker for things that promise to reveal my personality type, I picked it up and and followed its instructions: Shuffle the deck. Cut the deck in three. Combine back into one deck. Flip over a card to reveal your Animal Spirit. 

When I flipped over the card, I got the Oyster. ("An oyster's not even an 'animal'," my friend Bill later deadpanned when I told him.)

Patient, Secret-Keeper, Hiding the Inner Treasures

The focus and determination of the Oyster is unmatched. Anything an Oyster personality puts their mind to, they achieve with grace and charm. The only problem is, Oyster types often take their inner gifts for granted. They become shy or doubtful, and this can lead to withdrawing or protecting their deepest desires and life’s work. When the Oyster card appears, it’s important to reveal your inner treasures. What is it that you’ve been hesitant to share? The world is waiting to see.

When In Balance: feels blessed, generous, masterful
When Out of Balance: reluctant, gripping, “clams up”
To Bring Into Balance: share somethin

Out of curiosity, I shuffled the deck and tried again. Again, the Oyster card appeared. For the hell of it, I tried yet again. Oyster. 

I never thought about oysters outside of the context of a plateau de fruits de mer, but there are many valuable lessons to be learnt from such a small creature. It may be soft and delicate but has a strong shell to protect itself. It lives in a turbulent environment of ocean currents yet is peaceful and adaptable. And perhaps the most interesting thing about the oyster is its ability to take the sand and grit and irritants in its life and transform it into a pearl. There's something quite magical about that. 


Lash Extensions

9001 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 206
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One afternoon, while strolling across Melrose Place, I caught sight of my friend Taylor. We hadn't seen each other in a while so our meeting was a moment of serendipty. She looked amazing, as usual, though, her lashes looked outrageously lustrous and full. I was mesmerized. 

"I just got them done!" she exclaimed. 

"Oh my god, where?!" I inquired. 

"Over at Esnail–they're the best!"

I hadn't had lash extensions since the mid-2000's, so I decided to do a little bit of my own research when I got back to The Clubhouse. Taylor told me that she had gotten the "Semi-Glam" set on herself, which looked great on her but a level of lashes I felt I had to work up to. I needed some oomph, yes, but more in a "toning up with Pilates" way rather than "pumped with steroids".

I kept thinking back to a post I saw on Caroline Vreeland's Instagram page where she tagged @skinworship on her eyes. Caroline's lashes always looked full but not too thick and were always perfectly fanned out. I decided to make an appointment with her lash girl Madison De Clercq and was surprised at how quickly and delicately she worked. On top of that, she had a lovely personality which made the conversation natural and pleasant. 

"What look are you going for?" she asked, gently placing a false eyelash on top of one of my own.

"Well, I definitely want to walk out of here feeling like there's a difference," I replied, trying my best to keep my eyes closed and still.

"They're definitely going to look longer and fuller, but still natural," she explained. "I specialize in a 'natural yet noticeable' look."

When she was done, I checked in the mirror and they were exactly that. 

Madison charges $175 for a full set and the service takes 1.5 hours. Refills are $85 and take up to 1 hour. While I loved the initial effect, I learned after three weeks that they were simply too high-maintenance for a girl like me!

On Self-Respect

It is the phenomenon sometimes called alienation from self. In its advanced stages, we no longer answer the telephone, because someone might want something; that we could say no without drowning in self-reproach is an idea alien to this game. Every encounter demands too much, tears the nerves, drains the will, and the spectre of something as small as an unanswered letter arouses such disproportionate guilt that one’s sanity becomes an object of speculation among one’s acquaintances. To assign unanswered letters their proper weight, to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves—there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.
— from Joan Didion's 1961 essay for Vogue, "On Self-Respect"