The Ease of a Minimal Wardrobe

I have a bit more than what you see here–but not much more.

Six years ago, I had twelve huge boxes' worth of clothes, shoes, and accessories. Today, my entire wardrobe could probably fit into one (if I really smushed it in, that is). I've long come to the realization that I actually despise having to think about what to wear. I've spent the past three years culling the best of my wardrobe and happily bidding farewell to the rest. Getting rid of old clothes feels like shedding off the many skins of the past. It's highly therapeutic and cathartic in that way:

Arrivederci to the many Prada sleeveless shift dresses that I will never wear ever again!

So long to all of my H&M and Zara emergency mistake purchases!

Au revoir to my vintage Courrèges silk faille top that would look so much cuter on my friend Amandine!

At the end of the day, I'm left with very few basic pieces, but they're the ones I love to wear most often. That's the goal, really, to just have pieces of clothing that are versatile and mix well together, then scour for inspiration* to fill-in-the-blanks with for the rest. How great would it be to just pack up everything in a giant suitcase and go, knowing you'll look good anytime, anywhere? 

My current wish list includes: a nice handbag, a nice jacket or blazer, a nice overcoat, and a nice pair of statement earrings. Once I have the baseline covered, I'd like to throw in: a really interesting pair of shoes, a special dress, a really elegant and sexy top, some one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, and well-tailored pants. Adding jewelry to the list might be a little bit of a reach, I think, but I do love great jewelry!


*I've always liked Angelina Jolie's monochromatic, anonymous style; Vanessa Traina has an unfussy yet chic and pulled together look; Emmanuelle Alt and Barbara Martelo nail it with everyday looks. If only I could emulate any or all of these muses...

 

It Was All A Dream

A work by Tracey Emin

I had a nightmare the other day. In this nightmare, I awoke from a deep afternoon nap and found our house completely destroyed, our beloved dogs helplessly beaten, and a message on the wall that said: I will make sure that you will never be happy. My boyfriend searched every room for the intruder. "It's happening because I'm happy!" I sobbed, "Maybe... Maybe if I show that I'm unhappy, they'll leave us alone."

I actually believed that this was the only way that I could protect life, as I knew it, from being taken away from me.

And then I woke up for real.

The house was fine. My boyfriend was fine. The dogs were fine. But my existential core was slapped so hard that I found myself crying.

This might sound strange, but I realized that I'm not quite accustomed to things being, well, good in my life. My upbringing was sort of steeped in chaos, so I've been predisposed to thinking that something is always bound to go wrong. I have a twisted relationship with anxiety. I can't tell you how often I've been preoccupied with what might happen instead of enjoying what is happening.

It's no wonder that adjusting to my move has been somewhat of a process. Things have been so good that I can't believe that it's real. Surely, the rug will be pulled out from under me? In fact, come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if the intruder in my dream was merely a representation my own self. I am reminded of a scene in Sex and the City: The Movie where Carrie asks Charlotte: "What makes you think something bad is gonna happen?" And Charlotte replies: "Because! Nobody gets everything they want! Look at you, look at Miranda. You're good people and you two both got shafted! I'm so happy and... Something bad is gonna happen."

Of course, I had to have a therapy session with a friend on the phone about this and I couldn't think of who better to call than my friend Amandine. She has had the proverbial rug pulled out from under her before and that's one of the reasons why we bonded so well.

"Your life changed so drastically overnight," she said, with her charming French accent, "We were both working so hard and struggling and being stressed. And now you live in this beautiful place with someone who loves you. Don't think about New York. Nothing changed; it's the same. Enjoy your life. You really should enjoy your life." 

Here's the thing: Even if you live in the most perfect of conditions, in order to fully enjoy it, you have to exorcise all of the insecurities, judgments, anxieties, traumas, and other psychological roadblocks that you've let inform your identity. Like anything else, it's a process. The relationship that you have with yourself is an ever-evolving one. Don't forget to take opportunities to get to know who you really are on the inside, beyond what've you been through. Sometimes a nightmare might just be a wake-up call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stories We Tell

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I decided to manifest my childhood dream of becoming an author this year. This re-ignition was sort of fueled when I attended Cindy Chupack's book reading at Book Soup in L.A. at the beginning of January. (She's an author and a screenwriter. Most notably, many of her dating experiences have been written into Sex and the City.) Somehow, chatting with her made me feel like I can do this. That I could, quite possibly, have it in me to write a book. I mean, I have good stories and I'm now living in the most ideal place to write–isolated in the mountains–so it'd be stupid for me not to do something about it. 

After taking a few stabs at some sample chapters on my own, I decided to work with an editor. In addition to guiding me through story development, having an editor helps me mentally commit to this "project." Prior to our call, I had sent her a synopsis and two sample chapters which took me a couple of months to produce. I had mined through a personal collection of experiences and did my best to weave all of the key events together in a meaningful way. It was a lot like throwing spaghetti against the wall. I knew that it needed more work, but the gist of it was there. Based on what she read, she told me that I had good instincts and that she can sense an overarching journey–we'll just need to work together in the next upcoming weeks to uncover it. 

Our phone call reminded me of a therapy session, except my editor would refer to me as the character. She asked me questions like: What is her identity at the beginning of this journey? and What is she after? What does she want to be? How is her perspective changing? She wanted me to peel back the layers of the onion. "It's not about what happened," she said, "The reader wants to know how it affected you." 

I think the reason why I've been having such writer's block is because I am still, at this very moment, trying to figure out how my experiences have affected me. I want to go "there" with my writing and I want to go "there" in my life... To really kind of float out of my own body and see everything holistically and as purely as possible.

In the meantime, I'm looking at different ways people or characters deal with themselves honestly by: flipping through The Andy Warhol Diaries, watching Louis C.K.'s stand-up comedy, re-reading Bridget Jones' Diary, watching Sex and the City re-runs, and ordering films like Frances Ha and Tiny Furniture from Criterion Collection, which explore the burgeoning anxieties of young women. 

Here are a few words from the verbal mood board that I've scribbled down in my notebook as inspiration:

REVELATION
AUTHENTICITY
BRAVADO
INDEPENDENCE
FREEDOM
HOPEFUL
EARNEST
AWKWARD
CELEBRATION
PROFOUND
WHIMSICAL
CHARMING
INCANDESCENT
FOIBLES
TRANSITIONS
MORTIFICATION
GRAND
ROMANTIC

Writing is just as expressive as painting and, conversely, just as mechanical as mathematics (or anything else that involves problem-solving). Sometimes it comes easily to me and, at other times, it's completely challenging. But whatever it is, I want to get it right. I can feel the story brewing inside of me. I just need to find a way to pour it out... 

 

 

 

 

On Hosting Houseguests

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The most difficult adjustment I've had to make since moving out here to the ranch is having houseguests. And I don't mean the kind of friends and family that come around during the holidays or even the ones who visit for a weekend. I'm talking about a consistent stream of guests who stay for long periods of time. For a girl who has spent the last three years coccooning in her New York apartment, being around people almost all of the time is pretty overwhelming. 

It's funny because I've always thought the idea of running a bed & breakfast was quite charming–you know, to fully manifest your vision of a cozy experience and share it with new people. This is essentially what we're doing, or, rather, in the process of doing. We're currently building an biodynamic garden and planning to put an outdoor shower on the deck. During the day, we go on epic hikes around the property and, at night, we snuggle up outside under blankets to watch the moon rise with wine glasses in hand. I mean, it's simply too special of a place not to share. Naturally, who wouldn't want to come?

Hosting, though, takes a great deal of energy, especially when it's so frequent and for such long periods of time. It starts to feel like a job, and, for me, that takes the joy out of it. I have a natural instinct for nurturing, looking after, and taking care of the people that I know and love. But when it comes to people whom I don't know very well (or love), I'm more reticent. I'm still polite and accommodating and social, but it feels draining. In fact, to be honest, I start getting irritable after a couple of days. I think it's because I've grown accustomed to carving out my own private space and time after all these years that I feel this need to protect it.  

Before I go any further, I have a confession to make: I originally wrote and published a different version of this post in the form of a comedic rant. But then I decided to re-write it. The first one was meant to be facetious spin on the many annoying observations I've encountered, but I felt that it wasn't very nice of me as a host to use it as material. Everything was, of course, rooted in truth, but perhaps the ultimate truth, above all, is that I simply can't be around houseguests on a regular basis. We've had some really enjoyable guests, but also ones who don't know the basic etiquette of staying in someone else's home. It actually drives me kinda nuts. 

I asked my friend Charles for some advice. He has a house in the Hamptons where he has invited groups of people out on the weekends and seems to deal with it well. Charles agreed that hosting can be super stressful. "Laziness has been my policy," he told me. He has a laissez-faire approach where guests figure out the weekend for themselves. Because they don't have any expectations from him, he's not stressed by it. Maybe I should try that.

Going back to that fantasy about running a bed & breakfast, I think I've gotten a good dose of reality to make me realize that I'm not cut out for being an innkeeper. I'd rather be a gracious host to loved ones who come to visit every so often. That, I can handle. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Like Diane

"So... We play an ice-breaker game every time we have a first-time visitor," said a friend of mine, pulling out a seat for me when I stopped by her office to say hello, "You have to pose a question to the group and everyone takes their turn to answer it."

I looked around at the smiling faces at the table. What a way to put a girl on the spot! 

"OK!" I said, clasping my hands together, "I've got the question."

I cheated a little because I had already played this game back in college. The question was: "If there was a movie made about your life, who would you pick to play you?" 

The only difference, then, was that, instead of answering it myself, my college roommate answered for me: Parker Posey. (At the time, we were all obsessed with two Parkers: Parker Posey and Sarah Jessica Parker.) I was honored. Parker Posey was an unexpected and non-obvious choice. She has a wicked sense of humor and, despite being supremely talented and cool, she has always flown under the mainstream radar.

Therefore, when it was my turn, I knew exactly what I was going to say: "Parker Posey."

"Really?" asked my friend, "I'm surprised. You know who you remind me of? Diane Keaton."  

"Diane Keaton?!" 

"Yes! Especially in that movie Something's Gotta Give." 

"Really?! Why?" I wasn't sure how I felt that a 50+-year old actress could play me. (And I'm not talking about looks because Ms. Keaton looks damn fine.) Did I act twenty years older than my own age???

"Well, she's a writer... And she always wears sweaters,"  she said, thoughtfully.

I looked down at what I was wearing. Hm. A cashmere sweater in the middle of the summer. Well, what can I say, I am definitely a sweater girl, through and through. She might be be onto something.

When I randomly bumped into an ex-boyfriend from high school, he also brought up the same connection. He mentioned that Something's Gotta Give was one of his favorite movies and Diane Keaton's character always reminded him of me. It was interesting coming from someone whose #1 favorite movie is American Psycho, to say the least.

Diane Keaton plays Erica Barry, an accomplished playwright and divorcée who lives in a gorgeous house in the Hamptons and finds herself caught in a love triangle between a man of her own age who is the ultimate modelizer (Jack Nicholson) and a younger hot doctor who is completely enamored with her (Keanu Reeves). Nancy Meyers, the writer and director of the film, didn't make it difficult to see why these two polar opposites were clamoring for her attention.

Erica Barry possesses a sparkly independent spirit, but is also a creature of comfort. She's complex but not complicated. And she's nurturing but not in a trite way. She also makes things like blueberry pancakes at midnight and eats scrambled eggs straight out of the pan on rainy evenings.

I recently watched Something's Gotta Give again the other night. OK, so there are some similarities. There's the writing thing and the sweater thing, for one. But, geez, her hairstyle and my hairstyle? (I swear, I feel perpetually stuck in this mid-length layered haircut.) Then, there's her easy-going nature that makes her so approachable. And the fact that she has no problem spending time alone. Oh, and how she romances Paris... Although what woman doesn't?

I adore Diane Keaton in general, so I'm very pleased to know that there are at least two people in this world who associate me with her character in this movie. I hope I live up to it. Like Erica Barry, I hope I produce some great piece of writing, find someone who gets me, and own a fabulous home in the Hamptons.