Easily Transitions from Asolos to Manolos

A book bought to spot-read for inspiration

Sitting next to my computer is a book called “Not Quite What I was Planning: 6 Word Memoirs by Famous and Obscure Writers.” I bought it to spot read at will — the 6-word memoirs would be lessons in wit and brevity. Indeed, the minimalist writings inspired me to conjure my own 6-word autobiographies…

  • Always makes it work… usually.
  • Frequently found herself lost abroad.
  • Played hard, earned many bruises.
  • Saved old girlfriends, discarded new boyfriends.
  • Easily transitions from Asolos to Manolos.

Of the above, the last is probably the best distillation of Kathleen anyone could ever write — if I have a gravestone, I wouldn’t object to that becoming my epitaph. Easily transitions from Asolos to Manolos, from clunky hiking boots to dainty stilettos, from rough n’ tumble outdoors-woman to uptown girl…

I was probably running late, but there’s always time to take one last look in the mirror. The reflection was of the girl people are used to seeing — thoughtfully made-up and sharply dressed in clothes culled from Saks 5th Avenue and trips overseas. This was the Kathleen my date was going to get, and had he, or anyone else, seen me an hour earlier, they would have thought my transformation to be the stuff of fairytale musicals.

Me in summary: Easily transitions from Asolo hiking boots to designer heels.

An hour before the eyeliner and gardenia lipstick, before the tamed curls and gold earrings, before the Diane Von Furstenberg dress and red patent high heels, I was make-up-less, except for the spf 15 and the smudge of dirt on my chin. The old t-shirt and Nike spandex I sported were covered in wood-shavings and top soil, and tufts of sod hung from the soles of my ankle-high Asolo hiking boots. Thorn pricks left bloody splotches on my calves and sweat clung to my forearms. I had spent the day hauling and laying down 25 fifty-pound bags of woodchips and boy, did I look it.

I never really think of myself as beautiful, but caked in mud, muscles toned from exertion of countless treks uphill with 100-lb loads, hair tousled underneath a dingy Yankees cap, I felt gorgeous. There was no one to judge me and no bell-curve of tall, busty blonds to grade me against. There was no need to be self-consciousness. The flush in my cheeks, the rose in my lips, and the light in my eyes were put there by the fresh air and physical exertion — not by a brush and a pancake of pressed powder. I was fit, invigorated, living, breathing, unmediated Me. What could be more beautiful than that?

I might have looked a lot like pigpen, but I felt beautiful. Lucky for my date, I clean up okay too.

When I met my date for dinner, he gave me a kiss on my cheek and told me I looked “lovely.”

“Thanks. I clean-up well.”

He repeated it back to me under his breath and it took a minute to process before he laughed and helped me with my coat. Little did he know…

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Educated, Unemployed, Frustrated, but Looking on the Brightside

We're more than fodder for a cartoon. We're young adults stuttering at the start of our lives, but we have a voice.

I don’t know who Matthew C. Klein is, but I like him. I like Matthew because he wrote an Op-Ed piece entitled “Educated, Unemployed, and Frustrated” for the New York Times on March 21st, and in doing so, is one of the few of us early 20-somethings attempting to tell the world how we feel. We’ve been mocked on the cover of The New Yorker, labeled boomerang kids by those who need catch phrases, and attacked in the New York Times Magazine. But we’re not just fodder for a cartoon. We’re young adults stalemated, stuttering in our attempt to get going. But we have a voice.

“The millions of young people who cannot get jobs or who take work that does not require a college education are in danger of losing their faith in the future…Even if the job market becomes as robust as it was in 2007… my generation will have lost years of career-building experience.”

Right On, Matthew, right on.

Us educated 20-somethings trying to find work in saturated job markets, where entry level positions are going to applicants technically at a “mid-career” stage, are living in a constant state of uncertainty. It’s a Catch-22. The process is frustrating, and we’re forced to be victims — you can’t say to a potential employer, who may take weeks to get back to you, “Please, Sir/Madam, could you make your decision on me a little faster — I’d like to get my life together now.”

There are many times over the last few months when I wanted to bash my head against a wall — like when I learned an email I sent to an old boss about a job opening at her museum went into her spam folder. She liked me for the position, and would have gone to bat for me, but didn’t get my email until after the position had been filled with another applicant. Lesson learned? Pick up the phone.

Someone told me landing that first job is all about luck. And while luck hasn’t necessarily been on my side, I’ve managed to stay cheery. Remember, if all else fails, there’s always my back-up career as a wingwoman.

It's been 3 weeks since I've heard on those 3 interviews, there must be an outbreak of wastepaper basket fires

I try to be practical. Interviewers do have jobs after all, and they have work to do: “There was just an opening in their gallery — I’m sure they’re busy.”

Then another week passes. No one has said “No” yet, so I’m still inclined to give the company the benefit of the doubt:

“There must have been a fire in the building and they’re not allowed back into their offices this week.”

Yea, that explains it. I’ve only heard back on a handful of  job applications because of an unannounced outbreak of wastepaper basket fires raging across the tri-state area. And apparently, Mercury just entered retrograde.

Okay, it’s not me or my resume — it’s Mercury and office fires. I feel better now.

Rewriting “Life’s Little Instruction Book” from the Cusp of a Quarter Life Crisis

In the 8th grade, "Life's Little Instruction Book" was required reading. our teachers felt learning secularized parables would be more beneficial for our intellectual growth

Rather than learn the art of well-crafted sentences through a standard curriculum of books like The Jungle Book, the English department of my sleepy suburban school handed out copies of Life’s Little Instruction Book and Chicken Soup for the Soul to my 8th grade class. The thought must have been that learning secularized parables would be more beneficial for our intellectual growth.

Eventually, we were charged with the assignment of creating our own Life’s Little Instruction Book. We knew nothing of the real world and yet we were going to act as authorities on “how to live a happy and rewarding life.”

I recently found my flamboyantly illustrated attempt and was amused. “Don’t worry if you’re not the prettiest rose. We’re all beautiful in our own light” — my teacher found this little stroke of transcendental wisdom endearing. If I had to rewrite my 8th grade book of advice today, I might include that same instruction, though perhaps rewritten with less sentimentality, and add a few other insights I’ve picked up in the 13 years I’ve traveled since…

Invest in at least 1 Ina Garten cookbook. The orange scones in this one are an ace.

1. Invest in at least one Ina Garten cookbook

2. (Re)read Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style”

3. Learn how to make your favorite cocktail

4. Plant an herb garden

5. Always have a go-to outfit

6. When you’re a broke grad student, never refuse his offer to pay for dinner

7. Become a member of at least one museum and visit often.

8. Keep in touch with your old study groups

9. Get a good tailor

10. Get lost in Italy

11. Have a pet

12. Don’t forget to thank you parents

Find your red lipstick and wear it often. Mine is Laura Mercier's Sexy Lips

13. Find a shade of red lipstick that suits you and wear it often

14. Print calling cards and never leave home without them

15. Learn all the words to “American Pie”

16. Drink lots of green tea

17. Buy a really good yoga mat

18. Write postcards when on vacation and send one to yourself

19. Print out your digital photos

20. Start a blog… and don’t look back.

Happiness is a warm puppy who loves you.

How Suburbia Changed My Monthly Reading Material

My UWS pre-furnished studio had little to recommend it (storage was surely lacking), but it was perfectly surrounded by bookstores

My studio apartment on the Upper West Side had few advantages. It was a narrow shoebox with terrible lighting and a kitchenette with a microwave that sat less than a meter from my pillow. I look back on it now with amazement that I didn’t develop any new phobias or a brain tumor.

The one advantage it did boast was location — it was perfectly positioned among several bookshops. It was part of my daily routine to drop in and check the newest hardcovers while I sipped on the most exquisite cafe au lait from the coffee shop next to my building.  After lingering over the week’s releases, I’d usually stroll out with the latest  New Yorker and New York Magazine, ArtNEWS or Paris Vogue, Self or Vanity Fair. What I could have saved by subscribing to these magazine, I’ll never know.

In the suburbs, bookshops live in malls or shopping plazas. It’s rare you can just stroll from your door into one, morning coffee in hand. Going to Barnes and Nobles requires planning — it had better be on the way home from the supermarket if I want to drop in for a browse. If all I want is a new New Yorker, I always have to ask: is that worth the parking fee?

In the suburbs, bookstores live in malls and shopping plazas.

But I suppose, while suburbia and its sprawl lack certain conveniences, when you move back to your parents’ house you gain the benefit of inheriting their magazine subscriptions. Who needs to tromp outside when things come to your mailbox?

Alas, when I moved out, my parents canceled my subscriptions to Vogue and Vanity Fair and replaced them with National Geographic, Martha Stewart Living, and Newsweek — a thoroughly grown-up assortment of publications. Generally, I found this new selection both educational and useful (Martha’s recipes are usually winners).

While most 25 yr old females are learning beauty and sex tips from Cosmo, I'm checking out AARP the Magazine. To each, her own

Most 25 year old females get their monthly beauty tips and a new carnal challenge sex position from Cosmopolitan, meanwhile I was reading about “Sex and the Empty Nest” and “Robert Redford at 74” in AARP The Magazine. Apparently, “Sex in your 70s can change — for the better…78% of couples enjoy at least as much sex a they did before retirement.”

Bet you Cosmo girls didn’t know that little factoid. I have an extra subscription card, if you’re interested. 

Love Letters Lost

His name was Simone Volpini and we met on a blistering August night in Paris.

The penultimate city of romance - Paris - an Italian architect and the promise of letters exchanged. It was too good to be true

I was dining in an over-sized bistro sandwiched between the tall, blond, brown-eyed Italian Simone and a handsome gay couple who had spent the day at the Musee D’Orsay. The couple and I quickly dove into conversation after one of the men compared my full pink cheeks and white skin to a Renoir — it was the only time I felt compelled to like and discuss Renoir. After they paid their check and bid me bonsoir, Simone asked me if I was American.

Simone was from Rome and was the only son of an Italian architect. He drove a white Vespa and was studying to take over his father’s business. He spoke little French and equally minimal English. I read Latin but spoke no Italian. We giggled through a conversation of muddled pig-romance-languages while we sipped our coffee. He called me his American Beauty and walked me out into the street to help me find a taxi. As I slipped into the car, he handed me a piece of paper.

“You will write me. Your letters will teach me English. I will teach you Italian, and then you will come stay with me in Rome.” A kiss on the cheek and we were both off into the Paris night.

Back home in the states, I wrote Simone a letter. His handwriting was atypical for an architect — messy and non-linear — and I could barely decipher the address. His letter was returned to sender.

Alas, I would not get to play the part of Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.

The sole letter I've received from a friend, celebrating our graduation from college 4 years ago. I still have it.

It had been years since I had thought about the love letter exchanges that never were, but then a chat with a guy I’d met early last week reminded me why I found the idea of a pen-pal romance so appealing.

“You’re working very hard to get me to go out with you,” I typed in the text box of gchat after having received a handful of flirty texts and emails over the course of the week.

“There’s nothing hard about sending you a text message or an email. I sent them on my way to lunch.”

Clearly, he wasn’t a smooth operator, but Chad had made a very good point: sending a one-line message while you’re working on other things is not very hard.

In the age of texting and sexting, we’ve come to expect constant and instantaneous messages of love (or lust). On the one hand, there’s something extremely romantic about receiving, at any time of the day, a note that lets you know your beloved is thinking of you. On the other, one wonders if this communication blitz doesn’t lack of bit of sincerity. If it’s so easy to key in an “I think I’m in love w u”  when you’re on the go, then do you really mean it? Texts don’t necessarily demonstrate commitment… sometimes I wonder if they might even be a sign of over-commitment.

Writing letters are hard. They require time and thought. They lack that benefit of instant on-screen editing and spell-check — your flaws are more evident. And it seems that sitting down with pen and paper is something we only do these days when we’re taking notes, that is, if we haven’t forsaken a legal pad in the name of an ipad. It was not so long ago that a letter, composed with pen and ink, was our primary means of communicating from afar.  We’re out of the habit of letter writing.

Call me old-fashioned but “Ever thine, ever mine, ever ours” reads so much better when it’s scrawled on paper.

I kept the letter I wrote to Simone and every time I travel to Rome, I stuff it in my backpack. It wasn’t a love letter, but just in case I run into a tall blond architect riding around the Coliseum on a white Vespa, I’d like him to know I didn’t take the easy way out.

2010 in review — What you Thought of They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 3 fully loaded ships.

 

In 2010, there were 48 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 55 posts. There were 80 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 115mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 29th with 1 views. The most popular post that day was You Borrowed My Bob Dylan CD and Stole My Heart. I’d like them back now, please. .

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were wordpress.com, facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, twitter.com, and android-vs-ipad.co.cc.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for richard armitage, richard armitage spooks, how to find a rich husband, they told me to find a rich husband, and richard armitage naked.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

You Borrowed My Bob Dylan CD and Stole My Heart. I’d like them back now, please. September 2010
72 comments and 59 Likes on WordPress.com

2

Just in case you thought otherwise, Richard Armitage further proves I’m a Nerd April 2010
2 comments

3

They Warned Me I’d Find Love August 2010
48 comments and 28 Likes on WordPress.com

4

About July 2009
13 comments

5

Board Games & The Brothers Grimm, or, When I believed Happily-Ever-After Meant Tiffany’s and Vera Wang March 2010

 

Thank you, dear friends and WordPress readers for finding “They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband” and for suffering through my musings on this, that, and the other.

Stay tuned — I’ve got big plans for us in 2011.