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If you're currently lacking the desire to be an overachiever, now is the time to shine.
We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like - Tyler Durden, words by Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
This time a year ago, I crawled through traffic from downtown LA to the Valley and got home at 8 pm after a 10 hour day at a client's music video shoot, and it was the last time I'd have a typical day at the office. To pass the time that weekend, I signed up for a FabFitFun box. Why not? I'm fab, and I can be "fit." I am for sure fun. Getting little things in the mail keeps me stylish, and it'd be like a treat to myself. Surely this would be over soon. Surely.
I am already tired of Clubhouse, it’s recent ascent into the social media landscape has overstimulated the harder, better, faster, stronger, industrial complex. I was working 12-14 hours a day pre-pandemic. Same with my husband, Allan. We never saw each other. The weekends were stuffed with activities with my stepson, coordinating schedules an ordeal. I was in it. The scene; the LA nightlife, the LA day life, the power dynamics in meetings, the valet parking.
Now? I am doing the same amount of work with zero the fun or passion and all the domestic requirements in my face 24/7. That’s why with Clubhouse, I don’t want savants crowing and droning on my phone demanding I produce more, meet their desires of earning, gaining, achieving. We’re all just doing the best we can with what we got.
I apparently didn’t have enough because I am emotionally online shopping. Last week I ordered a celebratory pack of Old Navy black leggings that's a size smaller than the prior purchase. That's the celebration. As I made my way to checkout, I polished off the Bon Appetit Broccoli Bolognese I genuinely adore making and eating. It tastes better than the hastily made feta tomato Tik Tok pasta I tried to chef up days earlier, and suddenly I miss Test Kitchen, it was needed comfort as the panny began. Of course, within months, it became trash like everything else. I was obsessed with the team's antagonistic earnestness. I consumed their videos not only for the delicious recipes but the content.
Why can't I work at a place like this? I'd say. (Note: I ultimately interviewed there last summer.) (Note 2: After that interview, I did not want to work there anymore.) But if I couldn't work there, I could make the food. That part was easy. So I became obsessed with the Broccoli Bolognese I'd learned from an episode of Molly and Adam making it aggressively. In retrospect, I completely ignored the fact that he belittled her the entire episode. But unlike their demonstration, the dish is quick and perfect. I'd learned about it last summer, just so sure I'd be serving this at some point in the fall to friends around our kitchen table. That was all before God said, "...Errm, about that."
When it's not recipes, it's the sus knocking at our door 2-3 times per week. It's not a random visitor or solicitor; it's a package and it’s for me. Because of the Shop app, I know what it is and who it is for. There are no surprises here, and it does not matter where it's coming from as long as it is for me. It could be China, the UK, or an enterprising upcycler in Silver Lake, perhaps even Michigan. Today, it's Indiana, and it is a copy of Vanity Fair's issue from 1995 with Courtney Love on the cover I bought on eBay. I settled on it when I lost out on another vintage hand-painted Ghana rice sack movie poster. I give myself consolation prizes. When I was a kid and sad, I’d go to the mall and scrounge up my lunch money to buy myself cheap perfume. My perfume is no longer cheap, but it was still procured with the same intent.
The issue was $10 with shipping & handling included and arrived safely from its origin within two weeks as promised. The cover photo is Herb Ritts' shot of Courtney, who is decidedly un-Courtney. Instead of the sloppy, dangerously mussed hot mess we'd come to know and cautiously love her for, she is ethereal and bronzed. Aryan-looking cherubs draped over her toned body, like a fallen angel. But her words drip chaotically onto the page, reminding us she is a broken rock widow living in the shadow of Kurt and mired in the quotidian routine of obligation to their progeny Frances Bean, his legacy, and its ensuing legal entanglements.
When my packages arrive, I retreat to our bedroom, clutching it like the 15-year-old me hiding my precious and sneaking them away to avoid judgment. I was excited to snag this issue again; a separate seller wanted $150. But I blithely open the manilla envelope, note the handwritten receipt/thank you card, and place it on my office console without even flipping its pages. Ah. There it sits, next to Gia Carangi’s final Cosmo cover and an issue of LIFE from the week of JFK's assassination. Am I a skilled collector of morbidly timely content or a burgeoning Little Edie impersonator? I will die on the hill of my stacks of antiquated reading material even after I’m bored of it. I don't know when I'll get to re-reading it, but it's my hobby of collecting vintage magazines that brings joy to this cycle of sameness: collecting artifacts of the before-before times and using them to distract from the current times.
I used to consume these magazines in real-time with a voraciousness that only a young fertile mind could digest. I'd take my coins from my after-school job writing at IGN and head to the Safeway on 16th and Potrero to load up. I'd stuff them into my backpack carefully around my school supplies and anorak and come home to sit by my boombox, taking in each word as scripture. Magazines were biblical to me, and I would kneel at the altar of Elle, Mademoiselle, Harper’s Bazaar, Sassy, Jane, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and Vibe. My teenage bedroom's alcove wall plastered with ingenues who are now icons: Alanis, Janet, J.Lo, Björk Madonna, Mary J., Drew, their music and vibe shaping my perspective on a world I desperately wanted in on, or at least to eavesdrop on. Nothing in the world was more important to me than when I was at “church.”
When I pick up a limp issue of VF at Ralph's these days and marvel at its page count -down some hundreds of pages from its heyday to the size of pre-2010 issue of Us Weekly- yes it's a sign of the times. A time I predicted. But I mourn it. There was an art to a perfect issue. Now the same people I loved as a teen are too online like me. Celebs used to be fancy and mysterious. You had me at your fashion, makeup, next movie or TV show, and love interests that I desire and require. Knowing you MIGHT want to eat me was not part of the plan—I work in the business and know too much, the unfortunate downside of careless wishes come to life.
Before we'd wait several months to read the outcome of how Courtney felt since Kurt died, today you'd know within hours. The immediacy of information has made these revelations a turnoff. We know too much. I've taken on strange routines since the pandemic's onset and that includes collecting things. I am slowly falling into a level of disinterest for all else that I did not anticipate, and haven't decided if I love or hate it yet.
Or maybe I just really miss nights at the Chateau.
I used to spend $30 at Chateau Marmont on a bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese that melts in your mouth, usually in the company of friends and a few dozens allowed to enter beyond the driveway. In hindsight, none of it matters now, but picture it: entering a hallowed establishment that I only read about as a kid and having folks usher you right to your table was a flex I worked hard for. The maitre'd double kissing my cheek and guiding me to our couch with light banter and giggles. My party nestled in the garden, a glass of summer water for me on the way, and every waiter knows the spag bol is my order. I'm a regular. My youthful consumption of magazines prepared and taught me how to climb this Everest of Hollywood iconography, and I am at its summit regularly most nights. It was right here I chatted with Taylor Swift about her album Red and also where Kanye told me I'd lost “a ton” of weight as Kim chided him for commenting on it. Rude! But he thought I was skinny. It's where I spotted Keanu across from me while my buddy tried to pretend like Salma Hayek wasn't bent over chatting at another table, her bottom in his face. It's where I donned a SoulCycle hoodie and leggings one night after spin class and explained to Jennifer Lawrence that your crotch builds a callous to deal with the seat pain cycling while handing her one of my Parliaments. This is how it used to be, loud, garrulous, conversations folding into each other between drags of Parliaments and sips of wine, that lasted for hours before I’d fall into an Uber to my bed, eager to do it again.
Right now we can’t. And that’s OK. So I put everything I miss in some shape or form into my cart as I save Facebook ads, lurk on eBay, and troll online estate sales. Is conspicuous consumption bass ackwards when I should be saving for IVF? Yes. Allan made me start putting half my earnings into an account I can't touch. What's left? I spend on the house and myself. What I save in driving, entertaining, and looking the part of a gal about town, I've transferred to making my closet and beauty pantry my sanctuary. I am Little Edie. Before times I was not like this! I was frugal, skeptical, specific. Now I’m oohed and ahhed, seduced by scrolls.
But I feel guilty. I know it's not the same for everyone. Secretly, maybe I am who I am tired of reading about. But I can't stop perusing vintage clothing and conscious fast fashion brands that will embrace my comfortably basic-bitch behavior. I am a girl born to party - the lack of such events is sucking me into a hole of indifference. Because I cannot foresee a party in my future, I buy clothes and things that feel like a party on my body and double as a barrier. A Swarovski evil eye ring I bought myself for my birthday. A Norma Kamali jacket from TheRealReal because it looked like something I could age into and hand down to my kids. A wide-brimmed felt hat and Tory Burch shades so I could block the sun and avoid having to look at my husband's ex-wife during a hand-off at the park. Old Navy makes amazing cycling pants, but I still splurged during Christmas for a Peloton-branded version to feel apart of a community, to feel something. I bought a neon sign that says Amour for our sitting room to replicate Paris nightlife as dusk falls.
I ended up getting this sugar from Milk Street Store that will change your coffee and I did not drink coffee before the pandemic. Somewhere before last fall, I knew there’d never been a better time to be basic than now. When I heard about the Amazon leggings, I began to search, slowly being drawn in by ads on Daily Mail, Lizzo’s IG, the social media posts across the country of women dying to show off their enhanced buttocks courtesy of rouching and barely breathable lycra. Well, they're under $40 and available on Prime, that’s not so bad. At best, they're more comfortable than my Old Navy ones, and at worst, a yeast infection waiting to happen.
When they arrived, I immediately put them on and admired my shape in my mirror. It gave my day and butt the little boost I needed. Sashaying into the living room, I turned on my toes and twirled for Allan. “Do you like my new leggingssss” I purred, looking over my shoulder. (Ok this is what freaking passes for intimacy at this point we look at each other EVERY DAY, and that was NOT the plan.) Looking over, he smiled a little. “They’re booty-lifting leggings from Amazon,” I continued, deep fishing into that well for a compliment. “They’re all the rage.”
Without missing a beat, looking me up and down he returns to Rick and Morty, before responding “Well, they definitely have their work cut out for them.”
If you know of a place to return a used husband, send me the link.
This confession has meant nothing. - Patrick Bateman, American Psycho