Dear Kate Moss, I Object!

To quote Ol'Blue Eyes, "when I was seventeen, it was a very good year." 

Junior Prom happened, I wore cheetah print to senior homecoming, and my dreams were bigger than my hair. The year was 2009, and looking back at CNN's timeline of those twelve months, a lot of serious stuff occurred. Sully landed in The Hudson, Obama became the 44th President of the United States, Madoff got life in prison, and Michael Jackson died. While I agree with CNN, and most of the human population, that these were all worthy of remembrance, there is one event that seems to have slipped the minds of historians. 

The when: 11/13/2009

The where: WWD (Women's Wear Daily)

The who: Brid Costello's interview with Kate Moss

The why: promotion for her new fragrance, Vintage

The what: Moss's statement that her motto is, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," aka the quote heard round the world. 

Fast forward three years to 2012. I'm away at college procrastinating writing my textile science lab by scrolling through Facebook. The fitness obsessive amazon-like girl who lived across the hall from me had posted Moss's motto onto her Facebook page for inspiration. A serious fashion junkie in the making, I had not yet comprehended the importance of twitter, The Business of Fashion and current events in general, so Moss's words were hitting me for the first time. Looking to my left at the half-eaten bag of Sour Patch Watermelon's I instantly felt sad. Not for me and my sugar riddled insides, but sadness that there were humans who didn't partake in the pleasures a slice of cake brings. What is a life without chocolate? Not one I would want to be a part of.

Over the years, I never forgot Moss's quote, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." The words played in my head on a jumbotron telling me to eat the extra cookie, because if Kate didn't want it, I'd eat it for her. It became humorous to me. She's the world's most famous supermodel, of course she would say something like that. After all, her extremely waif like body became the "it body" to have in the 90s. She had to maintain her image somehow. 

Recently, with the rise of Athleisure, 5AM cycling classes, and juice detoxes, I thought I would give Kate's motto a run for its money. When the founder of conscious uncoupling, Gwyneth Paltrow, admitted that an occasional bag of Doritos and a beer won't kill you, I thought, maybe the key is balance. Or, is saying no to every little pleasure in life worth it to be skinny? I investigated. 

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First up, the green juice. Never before writing this post have my lips allowed liquefied vegetables to enter my being and proceed down my esophagus. Needless to say, I was nervous. Ordering the Mean Green (apple, kale, cucumber, celery, ginger and lime) from my local fresh & organic juice provider, I stepped out into the sun and braced myself. Up through the straw, into my mouth and down my throat without gagging, I was ecstatic. Casually sipping my trendy beverage, I waited for the moment its disgustingness would truly hit me. That moment never came. Was it because the drink made me feel so cool that I accepted consuming foods through a straw that I normally need teeth to eat? With each swallow, I could already feel my skin glowing brighter, my hair shinier, and my insides absorbing the nutrients they so often lack. The experts said all this and more would come from drinking green juice. So I was doing this for my own good. Medicine tastes awful, but it makes you healthy. I figured the same could be said for green juice. And who cares what it tastes like if it'll make me as attractive as Kate Moss?

In a shocking turn of events, pumping my body full of a solution that looks like churned up grass, isn't worth the benefits. About halfway through my juice I decided things can taste as good as skinny feels when it's in moderation. With the knowledge that I had gone to the gym that morning, I said "so long," to my juice and "hello lover," to a beautifully frosted cupcake. Made with natural and local ingredients, my cupcake wasn't necessarily a pothole on the road to obesity, but a brief detour en route to my destination. That destination being a full metamorphosis into Jane Fonda.

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So while experts claim that sugar leads to death and will eventually kill me, I promise not to overindulge on a sugar suicide mission. Life is best lived in balance. Equal parts work and play, sun and shade, and vegetables and sugar. And lastly, in closing of my investigation, I have one thing left to say. 

Dear Kate Moss,

While you will never go out of style, your motto that "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," is so 2009. It's all about a mix now Kate. A Zara sweater and Manolo's go together just as much as a Twix in one hand and a celery stick in the other. "Moderation and balance," let that be your new motto.

Best, Emily 

 

Additional information on green juicing:

Should You Drink Green Juice, Time

Juice from Jaco Juice & Taco Bar

Cupcake from Dia Doce

If Valentino Were My Father

Imagination is a beautiful thing, I mean, there was even an entire SpongeBob episode about it. Those times you only have the equivalent of four cups of watered down coffee in your bank account, imagination is your ticket to traveling the world. Close your eyes and jet off to Greece or Bali or Egypt, no passport required. As an only child, my imagination was often my best playmate. I pretended I was the evil queen of a magical kingdom or I would stage grand weddings with my Barbie's, only to have them divorce due to a rather juicy scandal. 

In grade school, my friends and I would fantasize about being members of our favorite TV families. How cool it would be to be a Cohen (The O.C.), a Matthews (Boy Meets World) or a Tanner (Full House)! Personally, I also wondered what life would be like to have Victoria Beckham or the Queen of England as my mother. Picturing life with a mother who had access to "that little Gucci dress" would send my head spinning. And if the Queen was my mother...to be a royal, I'd have a diamond tiara for every day of the week. 

Recently, I've been thinking about who my fantasy parents would be now that The O.C and Boy Meets World have long left the weekly TV lineup. While my mother would be an obvious choice between Barbra Streisand or Anna Wintour, the role of my father was a bit more difficult to fill. Until it occurred to me, what if Valentino were my father? 

If Valentino, the legendary Italian fashion designer/professional liver of the high life, were my father, life would be quite different. How so, you ask? Allow me to specify. 

Whichever department of Maison Valentino dad wanted me to work in, I'd be there. Each day I'd report for work in a Valentino red pantsuit (with slim fit tapered pants of course) and make dad proud as he'd groom me to eventually takeover the family business. What a life it would be Monday through Friday in the guipure-laced trenches. 

Saturdays and Sundays would strictly be for absorption of foreign cultures. Sashaying my way onto father's fourteen seat Challenger jet, I'd curl up with the family's six pugs and a steaming hot espresso. Mid-flight, I'd step to the back of the plane and have a quick catch-up phone chat with Maria Grazia Chiuri. I would need advice on the guy I was seeing (but only mildly interested in) and her advice would be to dump him, naturally.

Ultimately, the highlight of my year would be escorting Pa to the Met Gala held annually on the first Monday in May. While in NYC, we (me, dad, the pugs and the senior Valentino team) would stay at Uncle Giancarlo's penthouse apartment. Looking out over all of NYC, I would step into thisthis, or this (all from the archives). Dad would let me borrow anything for special occasions, he's cool like that.  

 

Family photo

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Arriving at the Met Gala, I'd catch up with all of dad's closest friends. Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista (she'd be my godmother), Claire Danes, and Anne Hathaway just to name a few. Throughout the night, I would encourage mon père to upload selfies to his 846k Instagram followers. "Have a little fun dad, you're retired. Time to let loose!," I would tell him. Waking up the next morning he would see that Naomi humorously regrammed a selfie of her and dad just a pinch tipsy. This would lead to me having to fly home coach and a four-month banishment from the archives.

Ouch. 

Even with the absurd punishment for the tipsy selfie regram, life as Emily Garavani feels like it wouldn't be half bad. But alas, the above fantasy is just that, a fantasy. I'm sure there is a very good reason why I wasn't born into a life of fashion royalty and for now, I accept that. For starters, pugs are adorably round little creatures, but cats just seem to get me on a deeper level. Secondly, it'd be terrible to have to..ummm...yeah...that's pretty much the only reason I can think of for not wanting to live in a permanent state of luxury.  

Just kidding.

The ultimate reason I wouldn't want Valentino to be my dad is because I already have a dad I'm pretty fond of. Although he doesn't run a fashion empire, I'd be sad to trade him in.  Happy Father's Day Daddy!  

 

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New Year's Resolutions

I solemnly swear that starting January 1st I will go to the gym 4 times a week, eat only organic foods, and cut down on my spending. What you cannot see right now is me laughing hysterically to all of the above. All of that (and I mean all of it) will never happen. I barely exercise one day a week now, let alone jump to 4 just because it’s a new year. Let’s be at least slightly realistic please.

For the past several years my only New Year’s resolution has been to come up with something that I actually want to do. Usually it involves eating a food or beverage that I have never tried. Past years results have been a cronut (success) and a Bloody Mary (fail. Never again). 

As a lover of Greek food, I have decided my new year’s resolution of 2016, will be eating a gyro. They were everywhere when I lived in Paris, but something about meat off a giant spit from a street corner didn’t appeal to me. Luckily, Brit and her boyfriend Mike are gyro lovers and know where to get ones that won’t gift me food poising after eating it.

Maybe because this year has been so full of major life changes and all, I have decided to break my rule and add a few more resolutions to my list. I got really into it and came up with about 15 than realized I was setting myself up for failure and did some editing. This is what I was left with:

1.   Take a self-defense or hip-hop dance class with Brit.

There are several benefits behind each class. They would be beneficial because they are both forms of exercise, they would be fun, they would teach me how to protect myself. All good things in my opinion. Anyone know of any good ones?

2.   Take a trip.

Since I have several good friends who live in NYC I find myself there quite often. Whatever trip I take for my resolution has to involve a plane. I have a few ideas lined up. One of them involves hiking boots so I’m a little skeptical. Nature and I aren’t really the best of friends. For now, this category is TBD.

3.   Eat out less during the week.

   This will by far be my most challenging (it’s also my motivation to save money for resolution number 2). Hate is a strong word and I use it lightly. With that being said, I HATE cooking. Take out is a beautiful thing. In West Chester there are so many healthy options that you don’t even feel guilty. The thoughts of coming home from work and making myself food when I could be spending that valuable time watching Mad Men episodes on Netflix and eating my take out, is excruciating. This year I will teach myself to tolerate cooking and learn how to make something besides pasta and peanut butter sandwiches.

You should never dread your New Year’s resolution or you’ll never do it. Why would you force yourself to do something awful (crossfit)? Once you make your resolutions fun, you will have no problem fulfilling them. I’ll keep you updated about how mine turn out. Stay tuned for many failed recipes and hilarious stories.

Christmas Memories

Families are weird, let’s face it. This is the time of year (the holiday season, in case you’re new to the world) when we spend a lot of (too much) time with the crazy people we are so fortunate enough to call “loved ones.” These said family gatherings typically consist of traditions that you partake in together every year around this time. As a child, some of my favorite memories are of Christmas Eves spent at my mom-mom and pop-pop’s house with all of my uncles, aunts and cousins. As the family grew up and my grandparents became older, that tradition went away, but we have many new ones that are just as special.

Traditions can be with family, one or two friends, or even with yourself. They can last for decades, or be something you enjoy for only a short while. These traditions, and the memories they create, turn into a beautiful mental time capsule of our lives.

As the big day gets closer and closer, Brit and I would like to share with you some of our most beloved Christmas traditions.  

After all, ‘tis the season for nostalgia.

Tradition: Must watch Osbourne Christmas Special every year.

It started in college. While many people discover drugs, their personality, and each other at that stage of their lives, I found Sharon Osbourne. She was loud, colorful, British, and had no filter. She was everything I wanted to be. To be honest, I don’t really know why my freshman year (when the obsession was at its peak) roommate still talks to me. I would stay home on Friday (and Saturday) nights to read Sharon’s autobiographies. Actually, now that I think about it, how did I have any friends?

Anyway, that was the first year I watched the Osbourne Christmas Special. Too young to have watched The Osbournes when it originally aired, I discovered a plethora of clips and episodes on YouTube (such a beautiful thing). If you haven’t seen it, let me tell you, the Christmas special is pure mayhem, and it’s fabulous. Ozzy makes gravy, Kelly gets mad at the entire family, Sharon goes on a designer shopping spree, and Jack thinks it’s smart to walk around town with a rather large knife.

Whether I secretly wish that my family was a little more Osbourneesque or whatever the reason, I have made it a personal tradition to watch the Osbourne Christmas Special every year in December. It has become a tradition I very much look forward to, and yes—I have forced others to watch it with me—and they’ve all loved it.

Tradition: Santa came into my room while I slept. I was not okay with this.

My mother thought it was adorable. As a child, she would tell me that every Christmas Eve Santa would come into my room, leave chocolates on my bed, and give me a kiss on the head. Little did she know, the idea of Santa coming into my room, as I lay sleeping in my bed, terrified me.

Not that I didn’t trust Santa (an older, successful man who loves cookies…that’s my type), but the thoughts of anyone being that close to me without my knowledge disturbs me.

Throughout the night, I would wake up clutching my nanny (Raggedy Ann doll that I have had for twenty-three years) and lie perfectly still in case he was in my room at that very moment. It was always a rough night.

On Christmas morning, I would wake up and slither down to the bottom of my bed until my feet kicked the little box of Russell Stovers (Santa always left the good stuff). The feeling of that plastic-wrapped square box was a sign that it was safe, Santa had come and gone.

This is one tradition that I am happy to say is no more.

I know you meant well mom, and it’s safe to say I’ll never forget.

 Tradition: On Christmas night, watch the movie that Santa brought me.

Everyone remembers that one magical family Christmas fight. This is the story of mine.

For the past maybe eight years, “Santa” has brought me a DVD which we (mom, dad, and I) watch on Christmas night. The first DVD Santa ever brought me was Mean Girls. It was the movie of the year, and my family had just discovered a brand new electronic device called a DVD player. Technology-savvy my family is not. Not until I was in 6th grade did we finally get a TV with a remote. That was in 2004…

So, it’s Christmas night and we cozy on up in front of the TV. Somehow I am given the job of setting up the movie. It goes well, except I have a bit of trouble figuring out how to fast forward through the previews. I swear, this particular DVD had more previews than any other I have ever seen. It was ridiculous. Tempers started to simmer as we waited 20 minutes for the DVD menu to appear. Finally, it did and I hit “play.”

You would think all would be good now that the movie had started. Wrong. The subtitles refused to go away. We must have restarted that movie at least 10 times, and still there they were. Since I couldn’t seem to figure out how to get rid of them, my parents attempted and failed miserably. No attempts were completed without us all yelling at each other and me putting blame on everything including, but not limited to, my cat.

Eventually, we gave up and watched the movie with subtitles. It wasn’t for another few months that we finally figured out how to make them go away.

Like I said, not technology-savvy in any way. I’m surprised I’m not writing this on a typewriter to be honest.  

 

24th Birthday

Out of all 365 days that occur within a year, my favorite is my birthday (is that conceited?). A day (more like a weekend) of celebrating, seeing friends, and free desserts (bring on the cupcakes) is almost too good to be true.

So many people become depressed on their birthday, which I just don’t understand. Maybe it’s because I have yet to turn an age that requires me to mope in bed all day and pretend February 7th isn’t happening.

This past year, some of my friends turned 25 (haha, I’ll be 24), and they were less than thrilled. To be honest, 30 might be a rough one (still 6 years away), although, since I was a toddler, I’ve been planning my 50th birthday (no one should be surprised by this).

No, I don’t know why I’ve always been so excited to turn 50. I used to think everyone had their lives figured out by then (I now know this is far from true).

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Your 20’s can be slightly terrifying (that no-money, don’t-know-what-to- do-with-your-life-thing), but I’m having fun. So far, years 20-24 haven’t been too shabby (lived in Paris, graduated college with honors, moved into an apartment, and started a business with my best friend). To be continued…

Back to dreaming of being 50…

I always imagined throwing myself an enormous 50th birthday bash. Think dozens of bottles of Dom Pérignon, men and women in Saint Laurent suits (vintage le smoking, no less), and everyone happily tipsy and eating (inhaling) cake.

Somewhere like Vegas or the Amalfi Coast would be suitable for such an event.

Of course, it will be very exclusive. Only those closest to me will be in attendance.

A custom hashtag…obviously necessary (#FinallyFifty), will be included on all Instagram posts. Although, by then, social media will probably be dead, or something (Facebook? So half a century ago).

Samantha Jones is partly to blame for my allure of the 50th year.

On those nights that my mom would fall asleep on the couch, I would casually switch the channel to watered-down (thanks, TBS) Sex and the City reruns, which proved very enlightening. Ms. Jones was clearly having a grand ol’ time, and created the mantra that 50 is fabulous.

A #girlboss before it was trendy, Samantha was a PR executive, only wore clothing that required confidence, lived life by her own rules, had a terrifyingly sarcastic sense of humor with a Manhattan apartment to match, and seemed mostly happy. Samantha was middle-aged, and she had it all, at least everything I wanted.  

While Samantha isn’t exactly my role model (nobody compares to Streisand), she’s always there as a reminder that life can only get better with age.

Not even 24 yet (my actual birthday is Super Bowl Sunday. I despise football), and I already know I have a lot to look forward to. A new roommate and apartment, adopting a cat, a freshly-launched business, getting my license (that’s entirely up to the lovely people at the DMV—please pass me!), a trip to Key West, seeing AC/DC in concert, and spending more time with the insane people I’m lucky enough to call friends.  

So thanks 23, you’ve been a blast, but I’m so over you.

Chicago

It happened. The Midwest and I officially met. 

Back in the day (when I was about 13), I fell in love with the film Chicago. Velma Kelly was me and I was Velma Kelly. Although, for Halloween that year, I went as Roxie Hart, go figure. Anyway, I needed to set foot in Chicago. Seeing Velma and Roxie tap, shoot and lie their way through the city all while wearing sequins, velvet and fur was just too much to handle.  

As the years passed, I found even more reasons to venture to the Windy City. Deep dish pizza was by far the most important. As a professional third wheel to Brit and her boyfriend Mike, I was given the opportunity to make a dream come true this past weekend. Mike, having family in Chicago, was going out to pay them a visit with Brit. Naturally, I went along with them. Makes sense, right?

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Friday morning at approximately 7:30am, I exited my apartment to find Mike dressed in a camo t-shirt and American flag hat. Missing the memo, I had on white skinny jeans and a loose white embroidered tunic. A little more Hamptons than Chicago. This would not be a setback. 

Before leaving West Chester, we made a very necessary stop at Wawa for sustenance. Without Wawa we would surely have perished within the first hour of our road trip. At least I know I could not have gone another 10 minutes without a fluffy chocolate chip muffin from the best gas station in the world. And everyone from Jersey through Delaware knows, a road trip isn't a road trip until you pull out of the Wawa parking lot. That's just the way it is.

There really is very little to say about the actual 13-hour drive to Chicago. The three of us took turns DJing, Brit and I read, I napped for a full 20 minutes and for a hot 30 seconds we joined a military convoy. And incase you did not know, Indiana is home to the RV hall of fame. Very little excitement...except for the Ohio rest stops.

Assuming you have never driven through Ohio (shame on you), allow me to enlighten you. All of their rest stops have a Panera Bread. For obvious reasons, Brit and I were ecstatic about this. If you don't get excited about seeing a Panera Bread Co you are either dead or new to this world. When Panera is the only thing you see for miles on end, it becomes a symbol of life itself. A freshwater lagoon in the middle of a concrete desert. 

As the clock struck "get me out of this car" o'clock, we approached the Chicago skyline toll booth. And in perfect coincidence, so did a torrential downpour. Plowing through what can only be described as a traveling Niagara Falls, we saw the cloud covered skyline looming ahead with the Sears Tower peaking out welcoming us to the Windy City.   

We had made it! 

Wrigleyville, our specific destination, is a section of Chicago built around Wrigley Field and also happens to be where Matt, Mike's cousin, resides. Settling into Matt's manly floral couch with a beer, we concluded that we would go out even if we could barely keep our eyelids from sealing shut. This was our first non-working weekend in 5 weeks, a little exhaustion couldn't keep us down. Mike's sister Katie made a surprise appearance which livened us all up. It turned out that Matt had corralled the entire family to be together for the weekend. Excited to meet everyone I've heard so much about for the past year, my liver was silently screaming in fear and trying desperately to find even half the tolerance it had in college. This was going to be a weekend we would never forget. Well, we'd remember what we could at least. 

Safe to say the first thing on the to-do list for Saturday morning was to shower. Sitting in a car with what you could call quirky air conditioning for half a day, followed by sweating it out in the bars leaves one feeling less than desirable. I must say, and I think I can speak for Brit, Mike and I, that our sleeping and living accommodations were quite comfortable while in Chicago. No sarcasm implied. 

Before we could even say "Go Cubs!," the rest of the Harris/Ludwig clan arrived.

It was game time. 

Truly some of the most welcoming people I've ever met, I instantly felt relaxed and included. And no, it was not the vodka talking. They are just nice people. Big personalities that will have you doubled over in hysterics, it's safe to say all the good things I've heard about them are true. Is it too late to be adopted? 

Parting ways around 1pm, the majority of us headed to a bar just outside the stadium to continue the fun and watch the game. Probably the most fun I have ever had "watching" a sporting event on TV. We drank, rapped, and talked our way through nine innings, which unfortunately, did not end in the Cubs waving their W flag. 

Those who have known me more than 5 minutes know I am not what you would call a sports aficionado (had to google how many innings are in a baseball game just now). That being said, I want to give a huge shoutout to the passion that is the Cubs fan base. Never have I seen such support for a team. Not winning a world series since 1908, by looking at the fans you would think the Cubs have a trophy case filled with wins from every world series since then. Their joy is contagious. So much so that I could not leave the city without my own little Cubs trinket, a Wrigley Field sweatshirt (in navy blue of course).  

Making our way back to Matt's apartment and after a quick costume change, we piled into several Ubers and headed to Trump Tower. Mike's uncle generously shared a suite he acquired, with everyone. Unfortunately, said suite was in Trump Tower, but I can not tell you it wasn't beautiful. That would be a lie. It was beautiful. Especially, if you take off the "Trump" and just call it Tower. Filled with velvet couches, breathtaking views, deep dish pizza, cheetos, and $24 gummy candy (bad for your teeth, worse for your wallet), I felt like a spoiled teenager on an episode of Laguna Beach. All that was missing was my cutoff denim skirt and Swarovski encrusted T-Mobile Sidekick.  

Thinking it was Midnight when it was actually 10:30pm (a very scary realization), we all started the decent. And by decent I mean we all crashed. To be specific, we crashed in various locations throughout the room. Brit and I on the sleeper sofa, some on chairs and many on the floor got creative using towels as blankets. Basically a giant slumber party. Thanks to Mike's aunt, who filmed the war zone, the scene will live on long after our back and neck pain has faded.

Around noon we kicked off Sunday with brunch. Brit got what has to be the most stunning chicken avocado BLT in existence...you know what, never mind. I'm just going to do a separate review on this particular meal. It is imperative I do this. 

From brunch we ventured over to the Navy Pier, which was lovely. Lake Michigan is really much larger than I ever thought a lake could be. Still a little shocked by it's size, I had a hard time deciding if I should look at the skyline or the lake. Seeing all the boats scattered about gave me a little feeling of nostalgia for Rhode Island (Go Rhody!). It also made me disappointed to think how much I despise being on boats. Every boating experience I have ever participated in has ended in more water streaming out of my eyes than the lake, river, or ocean I happen to be on. Definitely a land creature. 

Never having an issue with walking (my issue lies with cars), it was no problem trekking from Navy Pier to the bean. A city girl to the core, Chicago is a stunning place. Brit and I agreed that with it's spacial skyline, wide streets, and CLEAN streets we would love to take Tesoro there one day, but there is that little thing called winter. Have no fear, we came to an agreement nonetheless. After making our modest millions of dollars, I will have a summer home in Chicago and Brit will have a home somewhere warm and European. Solutions like this (spending money we are nowhere near making) are why we make such a splendid team.  

The bean made me want the Elsa Peretti Tiffany bean pendant real bad. Would be an excellent Christmas or birthday gift if anyone was stumped about either holiday, just saying. I like gold. Anyway, the bean, to use a non-fussy word, was cool. It looks like you should be able to go over  scoop it up in your arms and use it to make the perfect three bean salad. Hollow and shiny, with the same impact as a funhouse mirror, who can I see about getting one installed in my apartment? I would also like to note that I felt an insatiable need to grab some windex and go to town on the bean. So many handprints. 

The bean made us thirsty so we went to the Chicago Athletic Association. This place was a highlight of our trip. Legendary to Chicago's history, the Chicago Athletic Association, functions as a bar and hotel with an interior awaiting its Vogue debut. One of the many bars is a converted library complete with wood-burning fireplaces, leather everything, antique books, dim lighting and waiters. Although not necessary, anything less than black tie feels underdressed. The building is a gastronomic exercise in its finest form. From the ground floor (Shake Shack), all the way to the rooftop bar, eat drink and smize your way to Sunday Funday. 

We wrapped up out last night in Chicago on yet another rooftop bar, The J. Parker. The setting sun reflecting off of Lake Michigan in front of us, and the skyline to our left, was idyllic. A second plate of french fries for the day didn't hurt either. Our "tour guides," Matt and Kendall, went above and beyond showing us the best views in town. Most definitely a busy 48 hours breezing our way through the Windy City, when all is said and done, it was pretty perfect. A much needed vacation for both Brit and I, thank you all for such an enjoyable weekend. And if I owe anyone anything on Venmo, please let me know. 

The List

It's not cheating. Well, maybe it is but, Friends made an episode about it, so it's ok. 

I mean, we're taught to seize the moment and never say no to opportunity. So don't tell me if John Stamos invited you back to his hotel room you'd deny him. I know I wouldn't. 

I'm talking about The List. You know...THE List.

The list of no more than 5 celebrity guys or girls you have the freedom to sleep with, should the opportunity present itself, whether you are married, single, divorced, or in limbo (everyone's favorite stage). 

The rules are simple. The 5 celebrities of your choosing must be alive and as they are now. As hard as I wish, no seance will make Patrick Swayze rise from the dead. And sorry, but if you want Richard Gere, you have to want him in all his 66-year-old glory. Can't go back to the 1990 Pretty Woman version. That ship has sailed. 

So, John Stamos, Rob Lowe, Javier Bardem, Bradley Cooper, and Jon Hamm...I'm available.

Because I like to torture my friends (that's the point of having them), I reverted back to good old peer pressure and forced some names out of them.

The results were underwhelming.

Channing Tatum was the top male with David Beckham a strong second. The appeal is obvious, especially with Beckham, but I had hoped my friends were a bit weirder than that. 

In total, I collected 69 different male names and 24 female. 

Bob Saget ( a friends dream DILF), Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Morris Chestnut, and Idris Elba were some standout choices.

The key is to go for a mix of international and within the States. Like with anything, you don't want to put all your eggs in one Gucci basket. 

Rashida Jones, Ronda Rousey, Julie Bowen, Catherine Keener, and Elizabeth Banks represented a lovely age range. It doesn't get weird until someone thinks your date is your grandparent.  

The usual suspects like Beyonce and Jessica Alba were also mentioned.

Emma Watson made the lists of several guys and girls, 10 points for Gryffindor!

Admit it, fantasizing abut your list is pure unadulterated entertainment and can be a great distraction around 2PM on a Monday. But what if you actually came face to face with a human on your list. Would you go for it? If you were married and it was your spouse, would you throw a drink in their face or be non-realistically cool? 

Unlike Ross Geller, my list isn't laminated and safely stashed away in my wallet. Much more modern, mine is in my phone protected by a passcode. 

This is serious stuff. You have 1 night with each of your 5 people. Make the most of it. 

 

 

Netflix & Chill

Binge watching has practically become a sport. It has its intense moments, makes you tired (staring at the screen is exhausting), allows you to root for your favorite character, and can leave you dehydrated (where did the past 7 hours go?!). Beyond addicting, once you start, it is almost impossible to stop, for anything.

Even more terrifying than staying in bed for 12 hours watching Don Draper cheat on his wife with 8 different women, is that it can begin to feel productive. With every episode I finish, I feel as if I have accomplished some momentous task. Finish an entire season in 1 weekend, and you feel like you can conquer the world.

For those of you like myself who binge watch regularly, you will recognize the following steps that, ever so slowly, lead to our demise.

1.     The seed is planted.

You are talking with friends and one of them mentions a show they’ve just started watching. “It will blow your mind,” they repeatedly say. No, there’s no way you’ll watch it. You just finished a 6 season masterpiece and need some downtime. But days later, that conversation is all you can think about. Naturally, you cave.

2.     “I doubt it’s as good as they say.”

This is the thought that runs through your mind as you push play. Twenty minutes later, and you’re hooked. There is no going back now. You have begun your descent into the Netflix black hole.

3.     Start small.

It feels healthy to allow yourself an hour of uninterrupted downtime each night. You worked hard at work, you deserve it. After all, what’s the harm in one or two episodes per night, right?

4.     You begin the justification process.

What’s wrong with watching just one more episode…you earned it…treat yourself…the laundry can wait one more day…don’t be so hard on yourself…the apartment really isn’t that dirty…and on and on it goes.  

5.     You become one with the characters.

This is the point when you are spending more time with the characters than your real friends and family. The summer I binge watched Scandal, I had dreams the fate of America was in my hands (I was Olivia Pope, naturally), and B613 was out to get me.

6.     You except it.

Finally, in a welcome moment of defeat, you accept that which you cannot change. From this moment on, all of your free time is spent watching your show. At work you even begin to miss them and daydream of coming home to them at night. During stage 6, never question your motives. Simply sit back, sip your wine, and be entertained.

Dealbreakers

Thank you Liz Lemon. If it weren’t for Tina Fey spitting out dealbreakers, as Liz Lemon on her ex-hit show “30 Rock,” I never would have known of their beauty. There are the obvious ones like he can’t do drugs, have a criminal record, be lazy, or think he owns you, but then things get personal.

I firmly believe that everyone has silly and quirky dealbreakers when it comes to dating. For example, when I begin to date a man there are several possible dealbreakers. He must like (a lot) Stevie Ray Vaughn and AC/DC, must have the desire to own 1 or 2 cats, and he must appreciate a great bagel (when people don’t like bagels it really freaks me out).

Curious as to what others might consider a dealbreaker, I kindly asked (harassed) some of my friends (both male and female) into telling me theirs. What I got back included everything from needing to eat katsup with steak to wanting to be called daddy (it actually really happened to a friend, ew). Read on to hear the rest of them and know that all further dealbreakers are those of my friends and not me. I do not agree with (nor am I as crazy as) all of my friends. Just wanted to make that clear. Now please enjoy.  

Food/eating related

People Instagram food before they eat it for a reason (#foodporn). Nobody wants to see it all mangled up in your mouth. Close your trap when eating please.

If you can be heard crunching on your cereal, apple, whatever it is from the next room, well, that’s a problem. Quiet down or get out. Pretty simple.   

According to one very fabulous lady I know, she will never speak to you again should you have anything but a friendly rapport with the waiter or waitress. Oh, and if you can’t pour the perfect draft beer pour, well bye bye.

Guys, when you order your drink be very careful. Saying you would like a Malibu Bay Breeze or Cosmo on a date with my friend  will have you going home solo. Men who drink girly drinks happen to repulse her.

Never judge a lady for ordering a burger. If you chose the salad (hello Mr. Personality) don’t hate on her for living on the edge. And no, she will not share her fries with you.

Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Italian, Mexican…all great foods. My friend HaNa just loves them. As her date, you better like them too and pay for her to enjoy them. If you have a picky palette or are simply stingy, she will dismiss you immediately. You are useless to her.

What’s that? You don’t like pancakes? Oh, I see, you don’t like any breakfast foods. There is nothing more to say to you. Now get out of my sight.    

It’s the 4th of July and hot dogs are everywhere (it’s like America’s national entrée). You get your hotdog with Sauerkraut on top. The relationship is now a “bomb bursting in air.” Congratulations, your love of Sauerkraut ruined it.         

Grooming/hygiene/appearance

So it’s your first date. You’re nervous and of course are hoping that she likes you. If you happen to be meeting my friend Sasa lucky for you her demands are few. You better show up in clean shoes, cologne, and have straight white teeth. In this situation Meatloaf was wrong, 2 out of 3 is bad.

Say everything went well at dinner and things have now taken an intimate turn. He takes his shirt off and you die a little inside (not in the good way). His boobs are bigger than yours. There is really nothing to say. You pick up your things and leave.

Getting ready for a big night out and you are ready in under 2 hours (includes hair, nails, make- up). He is going on hour 3 of his beauty routine and now he is blow drying his hair (seriously?). You consider yourself single once again. No man should be more high maintenance than you are.

It’s summer and he has on flip-flops. “Why are you wearing flip-flops?” you ask. “I just went tanning,” he says then proceeds to take a selfie of his greased up orange bod. This is when you laugh in his face and never speak to him again.

He has weird looking toes. As if that’s not bad enough. When you tell him to cover them up he puts on socks followed by sandals. Double dealbreaker. Just like Jay-Z, you are “on to the next.“

His hoodie is from Hollister. RUN!

He’s treating you to dinner (good boy). The entire restaurant goes silent as he opens his Velcro wallet (bad boy).

After having an adult sleepover with your new man, your friends stop by with coffee and bagels (food is a decoy. They want the dirt). One of them uses the bathroom and sees a mountain of statement necklaces, rings, and bracelets she didn’t know you owned. Wait, that jewelry isn’t yours. How had you not realized your guy made Liberace look like a minimalist? You immediately delete his number from your phone.

After having a lovely dinner at a very fine restaurant the date proceeds to a leisurely stroll through the park. Why does the park smell like a mixture of sweat, fish, and trash? Oh god. It’s your date. Hold your breath and back away, quickly.

When you text, his responses are always confusing and grammatically incorrect (a dealbreaker in and of itself). On a date you finally realize why his responses are the way they are. His nails are so long they make Big Ang (if you are confused Goolgle her) jealous. Gag!

His pants are so tight (and he is so skinny) that from the back he looks like your 14-year-old baby sister. So wrong.

He has a beard? Yippppeeeee! It slowly travels down his neck? Noooooooo. Either gift him a razor and shaving cream or just end things, your call.

Misc.

When asked for a dealbreaker, a friend of mine said anyone she dates better know who Judy Garland is. You might want to rethink that one love. Sometimes knowing who she is could be the dealbreaker, if you know what I mean.

It’s Christmas Eve so you ask your date to come to church with your family. Your date whips out a Ouija board and starts chanting in a satanic language. Sorry, but devil worship just isn’t your thing.

You’re at a cocktail party and you and your date are having separate conversations. There is a pause and you hear your date mention they are very very Republican (like sooooo Republican). You quickly leave the party with someone else, someone whose beliefs don’t make you sick with anger.

You don’t love puppies? So what you’re really saying is you have an ice pick for a heart and no soul. Yeah, that so doesn’t work for me.

The only dance move your date knows is fist pumping. Might as well send your date back to the Jersey Shore where he or she can fist pump with the other idiots.

Just believe…in aliens. Aliens alone or aliens and ghosts better be your answer when asked which of the 2 you believe in. NEVER say just ghosts. To some people, apparently, ghosts just aren’t cool enough.

Cat people. I personally do not understand how this could be a dealbreaker but I have chosen to respect my friend’s beliefs.  

You have an itch but don’t you dare say you are itching yourself. Scratching is the appropriate term for how you are handling the situation. To say you are itching yourself will lead to an ending of the relationship.

After relieving yourself shut the damn door! If nobody else is in the bathroom leaving the door open is not necessary and will cause unjust anxiety (I never said my friends were normal. They are not. And that is why they are my friends).

Don’t say y’all. Don’t do it, because you will lose your boyfriend and be single. Just don’t do it, ok? (Mean Girls reference. You better have picked up on it).

You can’t keep up with my sarcasm? I mean, why even try for a relationship…just walk away. And I don’t think we can be friends either. 

Although you may not be a fan of scary films, you will sit there and pretend to like them. You’ll get over it. A nightmare or 2 won’t hurt you.

Liking a sports team aka crying when they lose and talking like you are one with the team is a must. But so help you God if you like a rival sports team.

Must have the ability and desire to sing along to Taylor Swift. If Taylor is singing and you are silent then know “that I’ve got a blank space baby, and I’ll write your name.”

And there you have a collection of real life dealbreakers. Happy dating :)

                       

Barbra Streisand

My heart began to beat s quickly as the flashes from thousands upon thousands of smartphone camera lights ricocheting off the spotlit stage. The suspended screen came to life with images from her six decades long career. Snapshots from her long list of screen, stage and musical successes reminded us all of why we were there. And also why we (some of us, definitely me) paid half a months rent to be sitting on top the ceiling. As the highlight reel came to an end and the screen turned to an inky black, I know I can speak for every person in that room when I say that our hearts collectively stopped. Too excited and overcome with sheer joy, we knew the moment had arrived. The woman seated behind me had been waiting forty years for this moment. Easily one of the youngest people in the arena, it's safe to say my purgatory has been a little less extreme. However, no matter the age difference between us, that night everyone sitting gazing at the stage in the Wells Fargo Center was all the same. 

Was this real? Did I die? Am I hallucinating?

Luckily, no. It was real. I didn't die. And I was not hallucinating. The tiny, blonde haired, black bell bottom clad human walking down the center of the stage was her. It was really happening. My dream was coming true. I was looking at none other than my hero and idol, EGOT winning, producer, director, actress, singer, mother, wife, philanthropist, fellow perfectionist, and legend Barbra Streisand. 

Immediately, the beginning bars of "The Way We Were" filled our ears followed by that voice, Barbra's voice. 

Throughout the two hour concert, my head felt like it was going to erupt. I could not wrap my mind around the fact that I was there, hearing her sing and not lying in my bed with my headphones in. Hard to believe that the same person I was looking at is/was Fanny Brice, Dolly Levi, Roz Focker, Yentl, seller of 145 million records worldwide and so much more. She has accomplished such an absurd amount in the past six decades, I could not grasp how a single human could do it all and represent so much to so many people. 

Hate to admit it (my friends knew it was bound to happen), but I definitely shed a tear or two. From the moment the lights went down all the way through her first three songs, I feared my mascara was running down my neck. For the sake of those around me, I refrained from uncontrollably sobbing. Let me tell you, that was no easy feat. Never before have I been that overcome by a celebrity, or human being in general, and I probably never will again. Everyone has that famous person they lose their minds over. For most of my friends it was always Channing Tatum, Ryan Gosling, Orlando Bloom, Britney Spears, or Taylor Swift. For me it was and still is Barbra Streisand. My friends didn't understand and quite frankly, neither did my parents friends. Those that I knew who were forty and over, would voice their adoration of Barbra on a regular basis. When I would agree, they would just look at me rather strangely and say, Really? Why? That's unusual for someone your age."

Well, if you too are perplexed as to where my Streisand love stems from, allow me to fill you in. 

A fifty-year-old since birth, everyday after school from fifth through ninth grade (that's when Lifetime took it off the air) I would push homework off until 6PM to watch The Nanny. Mimicking reality, Fran Drescher's character on The Nanny (Fran Fine) is obsessed with Barbra Streisand. At the time, I knew nothing of Barbra and pre-smartphones she wasn't a mere Google search away.

Time passed and life went on as normal until one night at my grandparents house. It was the Winter of my fourteenth year, the fire was roaring and me, my mom, and mom-mom were snuggled up on the couch watching PBS. It was one of those weekends PBS was looking for money, so, naturally, they were selling a product to persuade people to call in and pledge money In between talking about the product PBS typically plays whatever it is they are trying to sell so audiences get a little taste. This particular night, the video was of a skinny lady talking in a turtleneck. Realizing the video was from the 60s, I immediately wanted to keep watching. "Who is that?," I asked my mom. "That's Barbra Streisand," both my mom and mom-mom replied. Pumped to finally put a face with Fran Fine's true love, I told my mom-mom to refrain from changing the channel. 

The particular Barbra video PBS was selling was her 1965 television special My Name is Barbra. Honestly, I can't tell you which part we started watching at, but I can tell you the moment I became one of the millions all over the world to love and adore her. 

Her horse-drawn carriage pulls up to Bergdorf's as Barbra steps out in a cheetah coat cinched at the waist with a leather belt. The opening bars of "Secondhand Rose" begin as Barbra makes her way through the department store trying on furs, massive gold chains, and hats. For the seven or so minutes she sang, joked, and above all, added color and life to the black and white set, I became a fan. 

Never before had I seen someone on screen with her sense of humor. She made me laugh, yet, she was undeniably elegant. A goofball, but confident and self-assured. Relatable, yet, other worldly with that voice. Wanting to be an actress and not a singer, she had and till does have one of the best voices of all time (don't anybody try to tell me otherwise). Above all, I think what struck me the most is that she looked like she was having fun. Unafraid to laugh at herself, her silly faces, and embracing her natural self, made me love her that much more. 

For many years, all I knew of Barbra was that clip from Bergdorf's and a couple of CDs I would here and there at the Goodwill. All that changed one summer day between sophomore and junior year of high school. 

Bored and looking for something to do, I began flipping through TMC's movies on-demand. Funny Girl popped up. Seeing that Barbra was in it, I hit play. By the end of that week I had seen Funny Girl no less than six times. Forcing my parents to watch it with me, I would then go onto the family computer and listen to the entire soundtrack at least three more times. "Haven't you had enough?" my very patient parents would ask. "Ummm, no. Listen to her!" I would yell back assuming that was explanation enough. 

Hearing of my Barbra infatuation, Bernie, basically my adopted grandfather, lent me his DVDs of My Name is Barbra, Color Me Barbra, and A Happening in Central Park. Not at all exaggerating when I tell you I watched each DVD four times in three days.

When I was sick in bed sophomore year of college with mono and strep throat (avoid this combination at all costs!!), I used my target gift card to buy Barbra's first three album's. Listening to them on repeat definitely eased the pain of swallowing and the sadness of missing out on Halloween. 

They say you never forget your first time and I will most definitely never forget the first time I saw The Way We Were. I had been in college for all of three weeks and my roommates and I were having a quiet night in. Using the Hulu password of the friend of a friend of a friend, I was euphoric to see The Way We Were was available to watch.  About a third of the way through the movie, the fire alarm goes off. We all run outside and are standing there in the wet grass for about twenty minutes. Finally, the firefighters rescued the unfortunate bag of popcorn that someone had left in the microwave. Highly annoyed and eager to get back to Katie and Hubbell, I got a running start and tried to beat the three hundred students living in my building to the the door. A very excellent idea, until I tripped over a rock as I was avoiding a puddle. With my toe cut open, I pretended it was intentional and hobbled my way back to my room to finish watching the film in peace.

Now that you know the history of my Streisand obsession, let's get back to this past Saturday night: Barbra The Music...The Mem'ries...The Magic!, was phenomenal. 

Split into two acts, Barbra sangher top hits from the past six decades mixed with some broadway gems. Walking onto the stage after intermission, Barbra had changed into a stunning grey caftan style dress, which flowed, making her look like she was scooped out of a fairytale. Illuminating the dangers of Global Warming and high-lighting how important it is to take care of the planet, she segued into "Pure imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Easily one of the loveliest moments of the night. 

To those who questioned how her voice would be at seventy-four years old, let me assure you, Barbra and her voice look and sound better than ever. A tad raspy yes, she can still belt it out, hit those notes, and sound like melted butter all at once. Do not let her age cloud your judgement of her talent. She's still got it. 

Choosing a favorite moment from the concert is like trying to choose the best bagel in NYC, not possible. Although, some stand-out moments were Barbra's covers of "Children Will Listen" and "Being at War With Each Other." In addition to Barbra classics like "Papa Can You Hear Me?," "The Way We Were," "Don't Rain On My Parade," and "Happy Days Are Here Again." Of course, Barbra herself was a highlight of the night, ribbing on Donald Trump and sharing secrets behind her famous album covers. Did you know she did indeed have something on on her A Star is Born album cover with Kris Kristofferson...musk. 

A night I will never forget, I have no regrets about attending the concert alone. None of my beloved friends or even family love her as much as I do. It would have ruined the experience to be there with someone who wasn't as excited as I. One of the best gifts I have ever given myself (and totally worth eating peanut butter for dinner for the next five months), I can now say that I saw Barbra Streisand perform live. Can you?