FAQs about NYC

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Hi everyone! So as many of you know, since last I wrote, I’ve gotten a new job and moved to New York. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what’s going on, personally and professionally, and what this means for me/you/my dog/etc, so today I’m gonna answer some of them! And the crowd goes wild, I imagine!

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How is New York?
It’s brilliant. Busy, exciting, gorgeous, cold (I mean, by New York standards), amazing. I love it here, and I’m so happy. The water is great and my skin has never been prettier, though my hair took longer to get used to it (this has since gotten under control). I feel like my life has actually, properly begun. Now if only I had time to unpack my apartment…

Where are you living?
Brooklyn.

How is Oliver adjusting?
Oliver had a rough few days when we got here. This wasn’t just a massive upheaval for my life; everything changed in his life, too! Luckily, with the help of Jasmine and Katja from Rufflife, he was able to get back onto a schedule and he’s now much happier. He likes our neighbourhood a lot, but he’s not so sure about bodega cats.

Oliver
He’s also all about the big, low windows and the wide windowsills.

 

How are YOU adjusting?

It’s definitely tricky, going from working from home to going to an office every day. Luckily I work with amazing people, so I like it! The biggest challenge for me personally has been figuring out creative ways to deal with my dyslexia, which gets tricky when my attention is split–for example–between articles I’m editing and the muzak in the background. So far the best thing to do has been to listen to white noise on headphones literally eight hours a day, but if anyone has suggestions, let me know.

Other than that, life’s been great. I like New York, and even at it’s MTA-worst, the subway is better than anything we have in Chicago. Google Maps stops me from getting lost too often. And I have great friends around me to make things easier, which really helps.

So what even happened with this job?
I took a few meetings with SheKnows and the wonderful team at Daily Makeover, we liked each other and they offered me a job! It was all very fast, but in a way that was good because I didn’t have time to freak out about moving.

Do you work with Sable?
I do! We sit diagonally from one another, we go to events together, we hang out socially–sometimes we see one another seven days out of a week. It’s great.

What does a senior beauty editor do?
A lot of things! I write, I help direct and hone pitches from other writers, I edit for style, voice and clarity, I help guide our very talented writing staff. I attend events as a representative of my site. I go to meetings. I work with our Beauty Director and EIC. I make changes to things–you’ll see what I mean soon! I supervise features shoots. I have ideas. I play with lipstick. I learn about analytics. I try to keep the site organised and growing. It’s a huge job, but it’s also awesome.

Why isn’t your work for Daily Makeover the same as your work for xoVain?
Many reasons–it’s a different publication with a different audience, it has a different house style, I’m a senior level editor and not a contributor, etc. I’m very proud of the work I did for Vain, but it was time for me to move on to new challenges and experiences. I wrote a post about it here and don’t really have anything else to add, save that I’m very happy with where I am and what I’m doing. And as someone who has always gone out of her way to be kind and respectful to her readers and community, I’d hope that they’d do the same thing for me (SHE SAID, POINTEDLY).

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Behind the scenes of an article I shot with Sable.

 

Will you still be writing for (insert other publication here)?
Nope. Even if I could, I don’t have the time.

Will you be making more videos?
I will be doing a lot of cool new things in the future! Get excited!

Will you be writing here more?
I am going to try. Cross my sparkly heart.

What’s the best thing about New York?
Everything. Especially the pizza.

What’s the weirdest thing about New York?
Realising that I actually AM here, doing the thing I’ve been dreaming of for two solid years. I went to an event and sat next to a lovely person from Vogue recently, and instead of breaking out in Impostor Syndrome, I was like I belong here. It’s amazing, and I can’t believe that I have so many of the things I want.

Also: online dating. Man, is that a trip.

Do you miss Chicago?
I miss my friends, but that’s it.

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And that’s it! If you have other questions, here are all the many ways that you can contact me to ask them. Please keep everything respectful; I’m a bit burned out on internet hostility.

How To Get Robbed In The City Of Chicago

  • Realise you’re almost out of obscenely expensive Argan oil. It’s actually doing awesome things for your skin, so you choke down the price and make a Sephora run to replenish your supply.
  • Get distracted by shiny things at Bendels.
  • Take the escalator two floors to Sephora. Feel someone bumping up against you; assume it’s garden variety sexual harassment and ignore.
  • Stroll in, look at some lipstick, go to check what time it is.
  • Realise your bag is unzipped
  • Realise your phone is not in its designated pocket.
  • Nor anywhere else in your purse.
  • Feel your heart fall through your butt.
  • Congratulations. Your phone has been stolen.
  • Dump the entire contents of your purse out on a counter; go through it with a fine tooth comb.
  • Get two Sephora employees to help, in case you’ve suddenly gone blind or something.
  • Try to call your phone from the store’s landline; realise your hands are shaking so badly that you can’t dial.
  • RUN, do not walk, back down to Bendels.
  • Wild-eyed and fighting back a panic attack, ask the frightened shopgirls if maybe you left your phone there?
  • You didn’t.
  • Realise your makeup bag is gone too, which contained all of your favourite stuff, including your favourite Dior lipstick that has been discontinued.
  • Burst into floods of angry tears.
  • Security arrives. Give a statement.
  • Call the Chicago police to file a police report. REMAIN ON HOLD FOR 35 MINUTES.
  • Two actual police officers arrive; they cannot help you with a police report as they are on foot, not in a car, a distinction which turns out to be very important.
  • Learn that the Chicago police are no longer dispatching officers to scenes of non-violent crimes. If you’ve been robbed, you have to file a report over the phone. Okay. One understands that the cops cannot be everywhere at once.
  • Call again to file a report under the instruction of the two officers who are there with you, and who are also very nice. REMAIN ON HOLD 45 ADDITIONAL MINUTES.
  • Give up.
  • Stop service on phone.
  • Change gmail password from computer at Best Buy, thus effectively locking out the thieves.
  • Realise you’ve cried off most of your makeup; adorable gay boy tells you that you still look good.
  • Head to boyfriend’s place.
  • Get lost on streets you have seriously been on a million times, you are so upset.
  • Walk past herd of teenage boys. Overhear one say “Is that Taylor Swift?” and they all stare after you.
  • Smile in spite of yourself.

So guys: if you’re out and about in Chicago, hang on to yo shit! I learned from the very nice officers who were helping me (and who were just as pissed as I was at the logistical impossibility of, y’know, actually reporting a crime) that there are some A-grade pickpockets running around the city lately.

I mean, the joke is ultimately on the thieves because my phone was about four years old, heavy as a brick and worth about three dollars. But that doesn’t mean I wanted it taken. Likewise, as shitty as it was that they stole my makeup, at least they didn’t get my wallet. And since my makeup bag looks very much LIKE a wallet, I count myself doubly lucky.

Still. I hope those thieves get anal prolapse, because this has been really annoying.

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Wind It Up: Ten things getting me through this awesome heatwave

The end of another week. I can’t believe it’s only the beginning of July; it feels like it’s been summer FOR-EV-ER. Chicago is having it’s worst heatwave since 1911 and I’ve been dying by inches all over the place. It’s not so much how hot it is–I can do hot–it’s the humidity. You know, the kind of thing that makes you feel like you’re breathing in warm soup. Yikes.

So with this sweltering spirit in mind, I’ve made a list of my ten favourite things that are making this endless summer tolerable. I want to hear how you’re surviving, too–give me your top ten in the comments or on Twitter!

1. Butter London nail polish in Cheeky Chops. Basically the best summer yellow EVER, whether you wear in on your fingers or your toes. It’s like sunshine in a bottle; no matter how sweaty you get, you’ll be able to look down at your bright yellow nails and smile.

2. American Apparel jersey crossback bras. As you’ll eventually find out, in the summertime I like to wear shirts with low armholes and open backs, which means quite a bit of my bra is on display. These in bright colours and fun patterns make it look more like a deliberate fashion statement than outright laziness, although to be honest it’s a little of both.

3. Rose gold earrings. Rose gold is my jam this year. I don’t even know what my issue is, I just suddenly love it. I especially love the shape of these earrings; they’re fancy but not overpowering, so you can wear them with anything.

4. Jorts. I’ve professed my love of jean shorts many, many times on this here blog, but oh man, this summer that’s been taken to a new level. Three weeks ago I chopped up a really old pair of kind of boyfriend-y style jeans and they’re my new favourite thing. I like my jorts a little longer and kind of baggy, and I usually leave the hem frayed–though wide legged shorts rolled a couple of time is cute too.

5. Ballet flats. Since I don’t wear flip flops or sandals, ballet flats are my warm weather shoe of choice. I have only two criteria for them: They must be very soft and flexible at the heel, and they must be cheap. The former is to stop me from getting insane blisters, and the latter is because I will wear these things to death for about five months. There’s no point in investing a lot of money in something that’s going to be in tatters come September. I’ve had good luck with the fabric ones by Steve Madden and the leather ones from a brand called Mix no. 6. Just a hint from me to any other narrow footed, high-arched ladies out there.

6. Baby Lips lip balm. Maybe I mean gloss? I have no idea, but I love these things. They smell delicious and have a tiny hint of colour, which makes them perfect for days where you’re so sweaty that even thinking about lipstick is a chore. My favourite is probably Cherry Pie (red) for the gorgeous colour, but Pink Punch is pretty amazing too.

7. Pellegrino. Oh, I know, how bourgeois. I mostly have these listed for the green glass bottles, which you can refill and carry around in your purse on hot days. It’s important to keep hydrated!

8. Gentle Leader. If you have a four-legged friend, you need to get one of these. When Oliver was at his crazy worst and I was hating taking him on walks, this head collar saved me. It fits a little like a horse’s bridle; a loop goes around the nose, and then the second part clips at the base of the head behind the ears. Goodbye, pulling and lunging. Goodbye, aggressive behavior. Hello, peaceful, wonderful walking. GET ONE, I’m so serious, this thing is worth it’s weight in gold.

9. Neon sour gummi worms. I took a break from these guys, but I’ve got a taste for them again. I went to see Magic Mike with Wondertwin last week and ate a whole bunch of them. Something about the sour-sweet and the hot men just went so well together…

10. Drapey tank tops. Like I said, I like mine a little oversized and slutty-looking. I bought a whole bunch last year from Target, and they’re still my favourite thing for sweltering days. Bonus points if they have pockets. I love a good pocket.

And now I ask you: How are you surviving summer? Or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, how are you surviving winter? And could you send a couple cool breezes our way? We’d appreciate it!

Your Cheating Heart & Beyond: All the stuff I couldn’t include in the article

This week has been a little crazy. An article I wrote for PerthNow went up and really caught fire. I did too, a little bit. It’s all been very cool and a bit overwhelming. I suppose what I can learn from all this is that the things I am anxious about–trust, marriage, the disconnect between people–are not unique to me at all. Everyone’s scared basically all the time, and we’re all just trying to do the best we can.

The article is about marriage, infidelity and Ashley Madison, and how I tried to understand all of those things. You can read it here. I like it and I’m proud of it, even though it was incredibly hard to write. I kept staring at Pages feeling like “I CAN’T. I. JUST. CAN’T.”

But I did. Here is some other stuff that didn’t make it into the article. It’s a behind the scenes featurette, kind of, except you don’t have to listen to me talk.

This was going to be a different story. I had planned to sign up on a bunch of sites to see the way that men talked to women online, then talk about the differences between forums. Ashley Madison was on my list because it caters to a very specific subset of people, ie: married ones trying to get laid on the sly. It quickly became my focus, mostly because the experience itself encapsulated a lot of things that I am personally nervous about.

If you think that you’re perfectly well-adjusted with no issues about intimacy, love or trust, try writing about them. Seriously. Nothing exposes your own damage like seeing other people’s.

I set out to collect my data in as scientific a way as possible. I knew I already had a self-selecting pool of participants, and I quickly learned that most of the men messaging me were…not very good at expressing themselves with the written word. These dudes, most well over forty, were sending the person they wanted to impress txtspk messages that read like an eight year old wrote them. Although I doubt any eight year old would write so much about his dick. So initially it was a process to find participants who were eloquent enough to talk to for any length of time. This meant that I couldn’t ignore all the really aggressive, borderline revolting attention that I was getting. I HAD to sift through it to find people to talk to.

I had some guidelines for my own behaviour, too. My username was decided by a random generator (“Compliment” + “Colour” = DarlingScarlet, which I also liked for the repeated “a” sound). I posted pictures of my face, not of my body, so that I couldn’t be accused of luring otherwise decent men to me with my siren-like boobs. My pictures were taken when I was 24 and had dark hair, and that is the age I put on my profile. I also decided that I wouldn’t approach any of these men–they had to approach me–and that I wouldn’t outright lie. I wondered if I’d find anyone to talk to.

I found twenty-six of them. The thing that surprised me most was how readily they spilled their life stories to me, a complete stranger, for no other reason than A) I asked, and B) they were hoping to see me naked. I wanted to know why they were cheating, and by extension why they were so bent on risking everything in their lives for an affair, instead leaving the relationships that they were so miserable in.

I can’t overstate what a depressing experience gathering this information was. Having to deal with the constant onslaught of attention? It sucked. Randomly being sent dozens of dick pics from total strangers who don’t even know your name sucks too. Pretending to be a wide-eyed, vulnerable girl who really, really wants to listen to you talking about how you want to cheat on your wife SUPER-MEGA SUCKS FOR REAL. After the first day, it started to skew my perception of the world: Is this DOOMED to happen? Is nobody happy with anybody, ever? Is everyone just a selfish pleasure-seeker? Is every relationship built on nothing but lies? Time to build a hut in the woods and hang out with rocks for the rest of my life!

I had to keep reminding myself that not everyone in the world is terrible. Not every person gets into a relationship and then starts planning how to most effectively cheat without getting caught. Not everyone is so terrified of conflict that they’d rather lie with their whole life than say “Hey, we need to talk about how much sex we’re having.” And I’m fairly sure that I wouldn’t marry the kind of dickbag who would try to cheat with girls half his age.

But then again, didn’t these men’s wives probably think that at some point? I don’t think many people go into marriage (or any monogamous relationships, really) thinking “I can’t wait until I can bang someone else.” At some point, these guys loved their wives. Their wives loved them. They got married. And then one day, they’re trolling for strange online. How does that happen? Can it happen to anyone? Is this going to be my friends someday? Could it happen to me?

Well, yeah. It could very well happen to Future Alle. It could happen to any of us. Human beings are capable of being wonderful, but we’re capable of being really terrible, too. I’m so scared of the terrible part that when the little voice in my head tells me that it’s better not to even reach for the good, I believe it. I try not to, but mostly I do. I have a hard time with love.

I don’t necessarily view infidelity as an immediate dealbreaker. People are human, and part of being human is not being perfect. Sometimes shit happens, and if it was a genuine mistake and both partners really want to fix what cheating hearts broke, it can be done! But it’s a matter of degrees. Having too much to drink and hooking up with a friend seems worlds away from deliberately signing up for a website for the sole purpose of finding someone, ANYONE, other than your spouse to bang. It’s about intent. Not just the difference between manslaughter and murder.

Things I’d change? Um. I wish that I could have pretended to be a man & talked to women who wanted to cheat, but Ashley Madison charges guys quite a bit of money to message women. I’m uninterested in directly bankrolling a sleazy operation like this, so no thanks. I’d also have liked to get outside the hetero dynamic, but the site really only caters to straight people looking to step out on their relationships. I don’t know whether that’s a good or a bad thing.

It seems like a lot of men thought that this piece was “man hating.” That’s not right. As a straight woman, the romantic and sexual interactions I have are with men. I wrote only about what I experienced. If I’d had found that 99% of guys on Ashley Madison were charming gentlemen, that’s what I would have written. If I’d have uncovered a group of lesbians hitting on unhappy wives and curious women, that’s what I would have written. I didn’t. I got HUNDREDS of messages from men that looked like this: (Click to enlarge)

And this:

And this, my personal favourite. This was the first message that this man sent me, and while there is a time and place for long form daddy-daughter erotica, I think we can agree it’s not in place of a “Hi, how are you.” NSFW. Skip over it if you’re in the office:

I think there’s something really weird about involving another person in your sexual fantasies without their consent.  This guy’s kink seems fairly standard, but in an initial message? I had the icks.

So yeah, I wrote about what I experienced and the conclusions I drew from it based on what I was told. That isn’t man hating, it’s honesty.

Also, let’s be real. Lately it seems like the entirety of the United States government is dedicated to stripping women of our rights, and dudes are almost always leading that charge. If I wanted to hate on men, I’d hate on the men trying to force me to carry dead fetuses to term or preventing my birth control from being covered by insurance. Ashley Madison is not the hill I want to die on.

All men are not jerks with profiles on seedy dating sites. All women are not perfect angels. People are inherently flawed and everyone has the capacity to be horrible to the person they love. I’ve never thought any different. Grouping every single person into a little roped-off space and saying “Men are like THIS and women are like THIS” is reductive and stupid, the schtick of 80’s stand-up and lazy screenwriters. Stereotypes don’t do anyone any favours, especially ones based on a concept as fluid as gender.

I don’t really have a clever way to wrap this up because I am beyond exhausted. Oliver is lying at the end of my bed listening to Lana del Rey (he has so many feelings), but alas, I have a full day of work between me and sixteen years of sleep. LIFE IS HARD.

Proving myself

Everyone has someone that they need to prove themselves to. If I kept a list, it would encompass the girls who tortured me in high school, one particular Chemistry teacher, those who called me dumb and those who said that I’d never amount to anything, or at least not anything good. It’s not exactly mature, but this drive to show people that they were wrong is a hell of a motivator.

Like everyone who was picked on or made to feel scared, small, powerless, stupid, dorky, fat, ugly, pathetic, alone, etc, when they were small, I’ve kept a fantasy in my head that one day I’d have a moment of ultimate triumph. I’d arrive in a blaze of glory and order all the people who’ve hurt me to bow down before my magnificence. While this comes from a place of “You tried to convince me that I’m nothing, but LOOK AT ME NOW,” it’s built on negativity. It’s revenge-seeking. And that’s not an attitude that feels good to have.

I’ve been super lucky this week to be featured in a magazine. I’ve also started writing a column about my experiences as an Australian in America (you can read this week’s here) for PerthNow, and the response has been HUGE and amazingly positive. That said, when I was pitched the column, I had a lot of worries about writing for a publication that would run in my hometown. Yes, that’s where my dad and my best friends are…but that’s also where the people who were dreadful to me live. What if I still wasn’t good enough? What if, despite how far I’ve come and everything I’ve accomplished in my life, they still looked at me and thought “Yep, she’s garbage”?

What if I proved them right?

But. Because I have an awesome team on my side, and because this isn’t exactly my first time writing words, it’s been wonderful. I am riding high on a magical wave of happiness and good feedback. The amount of attention I’ve gotten has been a little overwhelming, but if I have to be overwhelmed with something, I’m glad it’s support and love.

Which brings me back to proving myself. Here I am, all over my hometown, staring out the pages of a magazine at the teacher who told my mother that I’d probably murder someone someday, at the girls who would call me a slut as I walked past them at lunch or threaten me after school. Here I am, writing about my amazing life, and working towards my triumphal march through the city. I thought this would feel incredible.

And it does. Just not in the way that I thought.

I thought that once I’d crossed some line of success, I’d be a different person. Maybe a better person, or at least a person who’s never been hurt. But I’ve realised that there’s never going to be anything that I can do, earn or achieve that will force me to lay all this painful stuff down. There is no line. What I want can’t be given to me; I have to do it myself.

I’ve been trying to switch my attitude. It’s not easy; I’ll probably always hear criticism louder than praise and be tempted to believe the worst about myself. But it’s not about proving the people who hated or doubted me WRONG anymore. It’s about showing that everyone who believed in me, who knew I could be better and who gave me a chance were RIGHT.

The best revenge isn’t just a well-lived, fabulous life. It’s not wanting or needing to get even anymore because you know–really KNOW–that you’re great, and that everything is alright.

And YOU, my lovely readers, have always bet on me. Thankyou for that. It means so much.

Wind It Up: Ten things I love about life in the third week of January

To say that last week was nuts would be an understatement. To say that THIS week was nuts would be an even BIGGER understatement. You can have everything under control, and then BAM, you’re trying to schedule a photoshoot on a day’s notice. Life is so wacky and wonderful, and I’m trying really hard to go with the flow. But oh man.

Anyway. I missed it last week, but I’m not missing it this week. It’s time to get happy!

  • I’m a STAAAAR, I’m on TOP! If you live in Western Australia, get your hands on this weekend’s Sunday Times. There’s a big feature about yours truly in the STM, talking all about my awesome ex-pat life. Marvel at my ability to lean against walls in weather-inappropriate dresses and string sentences together!

    Ten million thankyous to Emily Austria and Isaiah Tweed, my creative team, who came out on a freezing balls day to take pictures of me and tell me to brush my hair. They are champions beyond reckoning. Now, SOME-BO-DY BRING ME SOME HAAAAAAAM!

  • For a relaxing time… I don’t have a lot of time to myself, and sometimes that catches up to me. Yesterday I overslept by three hours, somehow managing to ignore both my alarms and four increasingly hysterical phone calls. I wasn’t mad at myself, I was mostly impressed. But it is a reminder that I haven’t yet evolved past my need for sleep, and taking care of myself is just as important as getting things done.
  • What, were you raised by wolves? This comic by Vera Bee is amazing.
    You should definitely read it (or not really, it has no words) if you have five minutes.
  • Weirdo magnet. It’s long been an established fact that, when left alone, I attract wackadoo loony people. This week I was hit on by someone who, though seeming normal, claimed to have met six species of alien, travelled through wormholes, could disprove evolution and was able to do calculus in his sleep. Amazing, right? He was cute, but not cute enough for me to overlook his tenuous grasp on both reality and science. Another hilarious story for the vault.
  • Iris Apfel for MAC.
    As well as being a boss bitch of the first order, Iris’ MAC makeup collection is totally awesome. I’m really loving the neon-bright lipsticks, especially Party Parrot & Pink Pigeon.
  • Fleece-lined tights. YOU GUYS, these are my ultimate cold weather secret weapon. They’re like wearing a delicious warm fuzzy blanket on your legs at all times. Utterly magical. The only problem is that they only seem to come in basic colours like black and navy blue. Snore. Hey, We Love Colors, are you paying attention? UNTAPPED MARKET!
  • ALL CAPS. Sometimes you just have to write in them. The occasional email that says “WHAT THE CRAP I CAN’T EVEN” is fun to send, and very therapeutic. Bonus points if you really mash the keyboard when you type.
  • FINALLY! Can you say RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 4?
    I feel like I’ve been waiting A MILLION YEARS for this show to come back, and on January 30th, all my dreams come true. When the cast was announced, I definitely started freaking out because Miss DiDa Ritz is a friend of mine. If the rest of the queens are half as beautiful and talented as DiDa, it’s going to be a hell of a season. START YOUR ENGINES.
  • Happy birthday, Michael Davis. It’s my favourite person’s birthday today, and although I would like nothing better than to bring him birthday orange juice, he is Home and I am here. But still, it’s a day of celebration because I honestly don’t know what I’d do if he hadn’t been born. Happy birthday, Watson. This is for you, again:

  • Sherlock, OH GOD. Okay, full disclosure: This did not, strictly speaking, make me happy. This entire season, my friends and I have been looking at each other and saying “Reichenbach is coming” like someone from Winterfell who’s really, really obsessed with TV. The Reichenbach Fall, which aired on Sunday, made me cry so hard that I got a headache. I am not a crier; half the time I’m not even sure that I have normal emotions. But this made me have feelings. All of them. At once.
    Just thinking about it makes me want to slowly collapse in a heap. Traumatising.
    It was a wonderful episode, both of the show itself and of TV in general. I’ve been a fan of Holmes and Watson since I was very young, and I didn’t think I could like the characters any more than I already did. The fact that I’ve gotten more invested in them through this show (rather than cross at all the things wrong, cough RDJ, cough) is the mark of great, rather than merely good, TV. I’m not even mad that we have to wait a year for season 3, because Benedict Cumberbatch is going to be in The Hobbit AND Star Trek 2. Be still, my extremely nerdy beating heart!
    And then excuse me while I swoon my head off.

And that’s been my week. I can’t believe how much has happened and how much has changed in just seven days. Who knows what’s going to happen in the next seven? Maybe this time next week I’ll we writing from Buckingham Palace where I’m drinking gin with the Queen! THERE’S NO WAY TO KNOW!

The Princess Bride

(Wedding photo of Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles at Buckingham Palace, 1922, from here.)

This Friday, I will be setting my alarm for 3am. Why? Because THE MOST IMPORTANT WEDDING OF ALL TIME OMGWTF is happening (maybe you’ve heard?) and Mama Malice is inexplicably, out-of-characterly excited about it. She’s been breathlessly following every development since Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement, and while she hasn’t bought commemorative tea towels, she hasn’t wasted a moment speculating on her dress, his uniform, the Queen’s hat.

Meanwhile, I’m not very interested. They’re strangers, it’s a wedding, meh. But I’m still getting up, and here’s why.

Allow me to lay some history on your asses: Mama Malice was born in 1950, in a small town in Pennsylvania. She was a teenager in the sixties and moved to Los Angeles in the seventies. I think we can all agree that those decades were a pretty turbulent time in American history, and also HELLO DIFFERENT IDEAS OF WHAT IT MEANT TO BE A WOMAN. We girls today receive vastly different messages about what it means to be a woman, but can you imagine being a small child in the June Cleaver era, a hormonal teenager as birth control became an option, and then a young adult in the big city of LA when the tide turned towards free love? That’s a super-simplistic overview, I know, but JEEZ, complete 180. It gives me whiplash just thinking about it.

So that’s confusing. And you’d think that when she had a daughter, she’d be raised with all the conflicting messages her mother had absorbed throughout her life, right? Nope. When I was born, I was my parents first child and the first grandchild with the Malice surname. I was very much the little princess, the continuation of the dynasty. My mother dressed me like a doll, no matter how inappropriate frills and lace were for the Australian desert. I had the pink bedroom, the dozens of handmade porcelain dolls. No doubt I was expected to be every inch the little blonde princess.

You can see that I’m really not kidding about the dresses.

I’m really, really not kidding about the dresses. Also pictured: My dad and my great-grandmother. I wish I remembered her more, but I only met her this once.

But from the second I learned to talk, my parents realised that this was not who I was. And yes, they were startled. No, it probably wasn’t ideal. But rather than force me back into the demure lace dresses when I wanted to wear, say, a rainbow striped dress with a fishing hat, or shiny leggings with a tie-front shirt (complete with a picture of a fish sailing a boat) and a ratty fake fur jacket, they let me be who I was. Even when “who I was” turned out not to be Cinderella but a four year old Edie Beale or Jem or a banana in a tracksuit.

Because OBVIOUSLY.

I was never made to wear a dress when I wanted to wear pants like so many of my peers; if it was weather and age appropriate, I was good to go. I was given beautiful jewellery for birthdays and Christmas, but I was never forced to wear it or made to feel bad for preferring fifty cent glitter bracelets. My parents filled my bedroom with antique furniture and watched as I covered it with fake flowers, colourful scarves, strings of bells. I was forced into ballet as a child, but was never stopped from also climbing trees and running around like a wild monster. When I was a teenager, Mama Malice never once made me feel like having a boyfriend was a requirement for being a happy person. All of these things, things directly contradicted by the “princess” mold, have made me the person I am. And the person I am is awesome.

I’ll be 27 this year. Most of my childhood friends are married or in relationships, with children and normal, grown-up jobs. I am on a slightly different path, and I’m constantly surprised when my friends tell me how much pressure their mothers put on them to get married & start popping out grandbabies. I’ve never felt that, never been made to feel inadequate because I didn’t follow the traditional script. Because I’m not a princess, even though I think a small part of my mother would have liked me to be. She’d have liked a slightly more docile, traditionally feminine daughter–but she got me instead. I wasn’t always an easy kid to have. But I don’t think she’s ever felt shortchanged.

So yes, even though I don’t care about it, I’m going to sit on the couch with my mother as she waits to see if Kate Middleton shows up to her wedding in a horse-drawn carriage (she hopes so). Because out of all the ways she could have chosen to live out her princess fantasies, she’s doing it this way. Not by forcing or guilting her daughter into being anyone other than who she is, but through the televised wedding of two strangers. That’s a good deal.

And you know what? There are worse ways to spend a couple hours than speculating about the Queen’s hat.

Loves you!

THE SNOWTORIOUS OMG

I know I’m really prone to getting overdramatic and as such it’s hard to get an accurate idea of HOW MUCH I really love/hate things. But believe me when I tell you that this has basically been the best week ever, for one reason and one reason only:

Snow.

I grew up in The Middle Of Nowhere, Australia. Which means neverending desert that looks more like the surface of Mars than anything else. Then I lived in Perth, which has a climate similar to Los Angeles without the smog. I saw snow for the first time when I was 17 and didn’t go sledding until I was 21. So although I hate the cold with every fibre of my being, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE snow. In nine years, it hasn’t gotten any less magical to me.

On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, Chicago got massacred by a snowstorm. Luckily, we were warned about it ahead of time and I spent my time not stockpiling low fat Wheat Thins, but thinking up witty names for our impending doomstorm. Eventually I did.

And holy shit, was it EVER snowtorious! Crazy winds, temperatures in the negative digits (F; you don’t even want to know what it was in Celcius), like a foot and a half of snow (45cm) and FUCKING THUNDER AND LIGHTNING. It was insane and a little scary but I was secretly kind of psyched. I desperately wanted to wake up to some crazy winter wonderland.

When I looked out the window and saw this, my excitement can be imagined.

I have never, ever, ever, EVER seen this much snow. I couldn’t even imagine it. I mean, I could hold the picture in my mind but it didn’t seem real. It’s like thinking about a whale if you’ve never seen one. You know what it looks like, but not the awesome effect of it in real life.

Even though I am mature and elegant lady of 26, I insisted on going outside to play in the snow. And by “play” I mean “run around while flailing my limbs and giggling hysterically, occasionally flopping down into snowdrifts that come up to my waist.” Because I basically need a government issued helmet when I get excited, Mum came along to take photos and call 911 if required.

Something I had to be reminded of before I ran outside in my bare feet was that snow is wet. And although my cold weather gear is terrrrribly stylish, it’s not exactly waterproof. So I had to borrow 80% of my outfit from Mum, who is way more practical than I am. And how did I look? So glad you asked!

WHAT I WORE, SNOWTORIOUS OMG EDITION:

Jeans: Mine, bought in high school, too big.
Fur lined snowboots: Mum.
Itchy motherfucking blue sweater (not pictured): Mum.
Giant black waterproof gloves that made me look like the Michelin Man: Mum.
Red down coat which, although ugly, kept me very warm and dry: Mum.
Black knit hat with long braids: Mine, duh.
Snow shovel from Target.
Stupid facial expression thanks to serious photosensitivity.

My first item of business was to make a snow angel. Unfortunately I’d never made one before and ended up flailing on my back in two feet of snow while Mum called me retarded. Twice. TRUE STORY; I have it on video. So you’d best believe that the next time I tried, I stepped my game up & aimed for a shallower snow bank.

Cute, right? I’ll be real, though, if I hadn’t already been half-frozen from my previous attempt, I’d have been pretty cross about now. Snow is COLD and WET.

Anyway, I guess that falling backwards and not hurting myself made me think that the snow had given me magical acrobatic powers. I turned a bunch of cartwheels and actually stuck a round-off, terrifying my mother halfway into a coma. Wondering how far I could take this newfound athleticism, I ran across the street and climbed a ten-foot snow pile.

Once I’d posed for this majestic photograph–an oil painting of which I’m sure will adorn the halls of the family manor for generations–I stood on the very, very top and did a fucking handstand-front flip, landing hard on my back of the face of the hill. Which was obviously a brilliant move seeing that I haven’t been able to do a front flip since, I don’t know, high school? Or maybe even NEVER? And did I mention that I’m meant to be taking it easy, by order of a cardiologist? Yep. Anyway, that stunt about gave Mum a coronary and oh man, does my fucking back hurt right now. It was fun, but I’m not an acrobat. Never doing that again.

As punishment I had to shovel the driveway. This morphed into shoveling four driveways, since a lot of the neighbours are elderly and I clearly have behavioural problems that can only be managed through physical exhaustion.

After the second driveway, all my muscles were burning and my lungs were sore from the cold and I was all “MY KINGDOM FOR A BOYFRIEND WHO I CAN TRICK INTO DOING MANUAL LABOUR FOR ME.” Then it struck me that I only ever want a boyfriend when I don’t want to do something unpleasant (moving things, pushing the cart at Ikea, changing the vacuum belt). It’s not that I’m not strong enough, it’s that I’m lazy. I’m all for gender differences when I don’t feel like lifting boxes.

Anyway. Once I was done shoveling every damn driveway and path IN THE WORLD, I waded through thigh-deep snow to the back door of the house. I think Mum was counting on the physical tiredness to make me calmer, but failed to account for one thing…

It is physically impossible to shovel a sweet old lady’s driveway and not end up with a giant mug of hot cocoa. Which would ordinarily be fine but because my new diet is so light on sugar, my body FREAKS OUT if I so much as smell chocolate. So not only was I punchy, I was also fueled by the Alle-equivalent of crystal meth.

Snow is really interesting in that it’s really solid when there’s enough of it, but not super dense. If I fell straight backwards onto sand I would wind myself for sure. But falling backwards into snow is like falling onto a mattress. A really cold, soggy mattress. Whatever; I was so numb in the extremitiez by this point that I couldn’t really tell what my legs were doing, let alone whether they were cold.

RIP Alle Malice. She died the way she lived: facedown in a pile of snow. JUST KIDDING, COKE IS FOR BORING PEOPLE.

I decided to start a snowball fight. Mum retreated back inside like a wuss, so I claimed ultimate victory. It wasn’t much of a fight anyway; most of the snow was too powdery to make good snowballs. NEXT TIME, MAMA MALICE.

At this point I was sitting in the snow, burying my legs like you’d do at the beach. I mean, okay, totally normal. I don’t really have anything to say about this picture, I just really like it. Thanks Mum!

Eventually backwards somersaulting my way to freedom, I came back inside to warm up. In terribly sexy TMI news, my legs were BRIGHT RED and NUMB AS FUCK. Forget a hot shower; anything more than crawling into the freezer hurt like a bitch. I guess that’s what happens when you play in the snow for almost three hours.

Of course, I’m totally glad I did. I get the feeling that this is a once in a lifetime kind of thing.

Chicago, take care of yourselves and each other. Keep warm, stay patient and REMAIN SNOWTORIOUS.

Longing, belonging

This is my final post about my New York vacation; the mandatory one full of reflection and musings about life & love and things.

This was my first trip to NYC and that in itself made me really uncomfortable. As soon as I booked the ticket I started to worry: What if people are really mean in New York? What if I don’t dress well enough? What if I’m not considered as pretty as I am in Chicago? Real talk, guys, and UGH HONESTY. Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the vainest one of all?

The thing that worried me the most was the overwhelm factor. I’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with frustrating external stimuli, but even so it’s not hard to send me into a tailspin. Take an unfamiliar space, throw in a large crowd, add lots of noise and lights and things competing for my attention and you can easily end up with an Alle on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And the one thing I’d heard from people, especially those from my hometown, was that New York is completely and totally overwhelming. It’s louder than loud, there are so many people and there’s so much to see and do that you can hardly take it all in. I was scared that I’d spend the week on sensory overload, hiding in a darkened room under a blanket.

But I didn’t.

Remember how I was suffering from a case of the big city blues? It turns out that the best cure for that was going to an even BIGGER city. After making my way through Midtown at all hours, the busiest streets of Chicago seem positively lazy in comparison. Instead of feeling stressed by all of the people, I was energised. I took in the constant racket, rather than going to giant headphone-lengths to keep it out. And while I was a bit depressed by the neverending rainbow of neon advertising, eventually I stopped overanalysing it; I unfocused my eyes and just looked at the pretty colours.

I liked the people in New York. I was lucky enough to hang out with a couple of people that I already knew, as well as meet some people that I didn’t. I went to a party in the East Village and was immediately crowned Queen of the Queens. I was pleased to find that even in Williamsburg, home of the very coolest kids, my style was still A-grade. What I was happy about, in short, was that I still occupied the same social niche as I do in Chicago.

And then I wondered if I could live there. New York for a week was exhilarating. But I can also see New York for a lifetime being exhausting. I suppose it all comes down to the life that I really want to have in the end, a subject which has me so torn that I really don’t know how I’m ever going to make a choice.

On one hand, I have my fabulous life. I have a life where I’m invited to the coolest events with the coolest people and I wear great clothes and everyone wants to talk to me. I’m always having fun, and part of me wants to keep having these crazy, wild adventures forever. But I’d have to accept that if I kept living this fabulous life, it’ll always be focused on me. Not really much room left for any significant romantic relationships or even many friendships. Part of me doesn’t think that would be so bad, but that’s also the part of me that doesn’t want to love anything, ever, because it hurts so much when you lose it.

On the other hand, I have a future that seems almost unbelievable. I could choose to have a quiet life. I could settle down, dedicate myself to my writing, live a normal life (with a normal sleep schedule). I could find a good man who loves me. I could feel secure. I could have friends who really care about me. I could give up the crazy adventures and have quieter ones instead. In short, I could try to be happy. But what if that isn’t enough? What if I set down roots in a normal life and realise that I hate it? Does it mean that the story ends? What if the price of being happy is being…ordinary?

My fabulous life is lived in Chicago, and I’m sure it would also be lived in New York. My quiet life…for some reason, I’ve always imagined that happening in Perth. I’ve always thought that once I’m relaxed and grown up, I’d go back to my little hometown and settle down near the people that I’ve loved the longest. How would I ever do that if I moved in New York, a city where you can have a tuna steak and a Starbucks delivered to your house at three in the morning? There aren’t even any Starbucks in Perth! I’m sure that it would be an adjustment period, moving permanently to Perth after living in Chicago. I’m not sure I’d even be able to adjust if I’d been in New York for any significant period of time.

I just don’t know what kind of life I want to lead. Most days I wish for love and belonging and all that stuff, but then I go out and the sense of being the center of attention is intoxicating. I can’t lie; I love that shit. In New York, it was like that all the time. I was stopped by seven street style bloggers in four days & photographed. I fit in perfectly. Nobody commented on my accent or remarked on my height or told me to eat a sandwich. I’ve never fit in anywhere, and the feeling of having found a place where I do was indescribable.

Not that I mind not quite fitting in Chicago. I like being an oddity. But if I’m an oddity in Chicago, I’m a freak of nature in Perth and that’s not always a good thing. My friends have been exposed to my weirdness for years, so they know that yeah, sometimes Alle wears strange things and does odd stuff. The general population considers me so peculiar that I practically belong in a zoo. It doesn’t bother me, being strange; I just don’t like people being mean to me because of it.

My Dad once told me that I was both lucky and unlucky, being a child of two countries: I was unlucky because I’d always feel torn in half, always missing something or someone. But I was lucky, too, because I’d always know that I could stand that pain. I’d always know exactly how strong I am.

I don’t know what I’m going to or how I’m going to live my life or where I’m going to be. I don’t know if I’ll love the choices that I make forever. I guess that’s the thing about choices, though: if you screw them up, you can always make another one. It’s just that the stakes seem so much higher now.

Loves you.

Once upon a time in New York City: ZE PICTURES

Hey guys, what’s up, I went to New York and it was basically the best thing that’s ever happened in the history of history. Now I know I hyperbolise a lot, but I REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME.

This post has about a million pictures in it, so if you have a slow internet connection or a boss who objects to pictures of statuary, they’re behind the jump. Meanwhile, here’s a picture of me flippin’ my hair while working. And by working, I mean “working.” And by “working,” I mean singing along to Taylor Swift. DON’T JUDGE ME.

Okay. PICTURES AHOY!

Continue reading “Once upon a time in New York City: ZE PICTURES”