Thursday

Video: My Sisters Do My Makeup!


My family lives across the country, so I don't get to see my sisters very often. My sister Nicole, who just turned 11, is really into makeup, and Penelope, who's 12, loves books. They both have incredible senses of humor and are vibrant and sweet. I love them!

I was on vacation recently and flew to Utah to see them. We went ice skating and got Cold Stone and just hung out, and we filmed a video where they each did my makeup. And they've got some pretty impressive skills. Enjoy!

Tuesday

Book review: "Get In Trouble." First things first, she's the weirdest

In Kelly Link's worlds, which at first glance appear identical to ours, schoolgirls with alcoholic fathers keep house for magical creatures, ghosts haunt nudist resorts, children are born with second shadows that grow into twins and memorial pyramids are built for rich brats who have surrogates represent them in public.

I'm flirting with short fiction, and Link's collection Get In Trouble sounded too bizarre to pass up. Each story blends realism and poignant introspection and observations of the human condition with really, really freaky stuff.



Some stories were clear hits for me, while others left me scratching my head. I might benefit from rereading a few tales that didn't connect with me or that had endings I found unsatisfying or too ambiguous.

The best story of the bunch was the first, "The Summer People." Fran longs to escape her home and her duty to the titular fairy tale beings who hoard, tinker and make mischief. A classmate dealing with her own isolation, Ophelia, is brought into Fran's world with the Summer People. Burdens heavier than what children should carry and questionable motives darken the whimsical setting. One of the great lines: "I have this idea that seeing your heart's desire probably makes you hungry."

Another one I enjoyed was "Secret Identity." A teenager goes to a hotel where a convention for real-life superheroes and a dentist convention are taking place. She's there to meet her Internet boyfriend, who has no idea how young she is. Humiliations ensue, along with drunkenness, bedwetting, butter-sculpture destruction and admissions of love. Standout line: "What you deserve and what you can stand aren't necessarily the same thing." Another: "Billie's heart has a crack in it. Her head is made of radiation." Anything else would give away too much, but this one broke my heart in the best way.

In "The New Boyfriend," Immy deals with ferocious jealousy when her friend Ainslie gets her third Boyfriend, a realistic robot companion, and plans to steal him away. The Boyfriend is the Ghost model, which has Embodied and Spectral settings, and maybe is harboring a real ghost that's haunting Immy and Ainslie. Favorite line: "They're making each other realer the longer they look at each other, and isn't that what love should be? Isn't that what love should do?"

It probably says a lot about me that my favorite stories are the ones with teenage girls as protagonists. But there is no more vulnerable and insightful, yet totally clueless creature as a teenage girl. That time of shameless and terrifying self-discovery is a writer's playground. My favorite story with an adult protagonist, "Light," is all about fraught relationships, with pocket universes and a green-skinned ex-husband thrown in for good measure.

Get In Trouble is worth checking out because it's so creatively expansive. It doesn't just ask you to suspend your disbelief. It asks you to subvert your expectations about fiction, never being clear-cut fantasy or science fiction or romance or literary fiction. I'd love to read more from Link. What can I say? I love freaks.

"Don't finish the thought." A tool for healing, diminishing anxiety and generally telling your brain to STFU



There was this guy, we'll call him J, who I went to high school and college with. J and I never dated, never kissed, although I did meet his parents and grandparents once.

He just sort of popped in and out of my life in weird ways, at strange times, like some creepy guardian angel with funny facial hair. If something momentous was happening, J would appear, like when I was dancing at Independent Bar in Orlando with my brand-new husband during my going away party before moving to Santa Fe, N.M. I looked around during MGMT's "Kids" and there was J, and we both looked at each other and laughed.

J gave me a piece of advice I'll never forget. I'd just had my heart broken by this scourge upon womankind. I couldn't stop thinking about the bastard. (You know how it goes.)

So J said, "Don't finish the thought."

"What?"

"Just don't finish the thought."

"But he —"

"Just DON'T finish the thought."

So that's how I got over the dude. Any time my brain waltzed around him, grabbed him, presented him in 3-D and Technicolor in my mind's eye, I'd tell myself, "Don't finish the thought." Mid-sentence, mid-syllable, the discussion with myself about him would be closed.

I don't know why in the actual blueberry fuck I don't use this more often. It's effective. It didn't matter if I was getting some shining insight or pining away. What mattered was that at that time in my life, I was better off not wasting the energy trying to figure out What Went Wrong or Why He Didn't Love Me Waaaaah. My brain got trained to shut down the stupids. Don't even go there, don't even bother. Curate your thoughts.

So the next time a destructive thought pops up, don't grab it. If letting it float away without attaching to it like a calm little meditation pro doesn't help, clobber it down, slash it in half, leave it with the words unsaid at the tip of its rotten tongue. Silencio, por favor.

You're welcome.

Thursday

OOTD: A little va va voom, a little vroom vroom

Leather jacket, Guess (similar) // Top, Sofia Vergara for Kmart (assorted colors) // Caffeine molecule necklace,
Delftia on Etsy // Velvet Toothpick Jeans, J. Crew Factory (similar, black) (similar) (similar, leggings) //
Combat boots, Target (similar)

Everyone knows how much I love Sofia Vergara. I scooped up a few pieces from her clothing line at Kmart while I was visiting my family in Utah, including this ribbed sweater with gold thread running through. Everything in the line looks like it came straight out of her Modern Family wardrobe — bright colors, figure-flattering V-neck tops, bold patterns and glitzy earrings.

I feel like I'm in a costume if I'm too anything, so if I'm wearing something cutesy or sexy, I like to add something to throw it off, toughen it up. Hence my leather jacket and combat boots.

These purple velvet jeans were a fantastic outlet find. One of the last three pairs left at J. Crew Factory in Park City luckily fit, and I got them for a song.



This impossibly delicate necklace is a caffeine molecule in a coffee cup. I went mad for it at Delftia's Etsy shop. Take a look — everything there is smashing and clever. Neurons, hypercubes, anatomically correct hearts depicting oxytocin, all sorts of intricate and elegant pieces with a built-in backstory. Shipping takes a while because the shop owner is based in Tel Aviv, but I am thrilled with my purchase.


What do you think of my new additions?

Wednesday

Book review: "The Girl on the Train"

There's been only one time I drank enough to black out. It was during my bachelorette party. I was shocked to hear the next morning about how I'd climbed into bed, slammed against the wall and caused a small decorative mirror to fall on my head. A minor incident, but it's unsettling to have absolutely no memory of stuff I said and did.

But the protagonist's blackouts hide something far more dangerous than an embarrassing anecdote in Paula Hawkins's runaway best-seller The Girl on the Train.



Every day, barely functional alcoholic Rachel rides the same train that she commuted on before she was fired. It goes past the home she used to share with her husband, Tom, who now lives there with his mistress turned second wife/babymama, Anna. It also goes past the home of a young, attractive couple. In her heartbreak, Rachel envisions a perfect, dazzling marriage for the unknown twosome she gets passing glimpses of, even creating names, jobs and backstories in her head for the pair.

One day, Rachel sees something shocking. Soon after, the woman she's been admiring from the train disappears. Rachel thinks she knows something that can help, but what she doesn't know — what she can't remember — is the mystery within the mystery. The missing piece that could solve or destroy everything.

Let's get this out of the way, because everyone and their mother is comparing this to Gone Girl. It's an easy comparison to make. Both have multiple unreliable narrators — Rachel, Anna, and the missing woman, Megan — a disappearance, relationships that aren't at all what they seem, and just-one-more-chapter-oh-crap-it's-3-a.m. levels of suspense. Gone Girl is more cerebral, but The Girl on the Train is twistier. It resonated with me emotionally. It also puts the reader in more of a detective mode than Gone Girl, so it felt more interactive. And the big finish was far more satisfying than Gone Girl, which had an ending that left me looking for a missing page and wanting to throw my Kindle across the room.

I read this in one day while flying across the country. It's dazzling. I saw myself in all three narrators. There's not a caricature in the bunch. Each stunning revelation slapped me harder than the last. You could make a fun game out of flipping back and spotting every clue and every malicious deception.

Beyond all the thriller stuff and all the relationship insight, The Girl on the Train is a profound meditation on identity. The characters are not who they used to be. Or, they are not who they say they are. Or they feel so ill-defined by their own selves that they need something else — canned gin and tonics, routine, therapy, lovers, children, fantasy, tragedy, lies — to solidify them. But nothing can be solid if the foundation on which we build our lives — the people we love — turn out to be strangers.

DreamWorks has already acquired the movie rights. Start your fantasy casting, ya'll.

Monday

New in: Polishing away winter grime

Three new products have entered my shower on a whim. The inadvertent theme of my purchases seems to be shedding off my reptilian skin for a glossy new coat. When the time comes when the barren winter hellscape dissolves and I can show some skin, I want to be as smooth as a rose petal.

The newbies:



Clarisonic Radiance Brush Head: My Clarisonic hasn't been used in months. Don't ask me why. I meant to replace my brush head and then just didn't. That's probably why my skin texture is so meh, so orange peel-like.

The company claims this specific brush head diminishes hyperpigmentation. I sometimes get dark spots that never go away after breakouts, and I can only cover them by caking on foundation. Which I just refuse to do, so I just do the coverage I'm comfortable with and whatever shows through, I shrug off. But I'd prefer it if the spots weren't there, so let's give this a try. The bristles feel softer and more delicate than other brush heads. Because my skin is no longer Clarisonic-trained, I'm dreading any possible purge period when I break out from impurities rising to the surface. Let's hope I can skip that.

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Cleanser: I felt like trying a brand I'd never heard of, and this one had an eye-catching bottle and a satisfying price. Glycolic acid is also supposed to help with hyperpigmentation. I used this with my Clarisonic brush. It felt nice and foamy on my skin but had a slightly yucky chemical fruit smell — I assume that's from the apple amino acid. This also has olive oil to soften skin.

Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub in Passion Fruit & Guava: My childhood diet had four major food groups — chicken McNuggets, Velveeta, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and guava and cream cheese turnovers. Oh, those warm, flaky, sweet and tangy guava and cream cheese turnovers. This smells like straight up passion fruit to me, and zilch guava, but I don't even care. After one use, my skin felt ready to be caressed. No more roughness, just impossible softness.

This scrub was as thick as pudding, not like other scrubs that have the sugar slopping around in an oily soup and leave you greasy. The consistency made it easy to really work over the skin. I stepped out of the shower feeling renewed, pretty and wishing for a set of satin jammies to slip into.