Category Archives: people we like and wish we knew

bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils

Every few weeks on Gchat Katie or I will say to the other “we should do something about the blog” but then we will find a really wonderful movie trailer or polarizing Atlantic article to discuss and the blog will be out on the back burner once again. But the seasons are changing now, as evidenced by the heat advisory covering St. Louis, and new seasons are always good times for starting over.

I didn’t come here to tell you about any of that though, I came here to tell you about why Nora Ephron is the most wonderful.

Nora Ephron died on Tuesday and since then some people have written some really lovely things about her. My favorite one came from the New York Times which characterized her as “an expert in all the departments of living well” which I think it the absolute best thing that could ever be said about a person. Nora wrote You’ve Got Mail which has been my all-time favorite movie since I saw it in theaters when I was eleven. My mom and I could quote the entire movie to you backwards and forwards. In fact, if you really love me you will watch it with me and let me say the lines the entire time but even if you didn’t let me do that you still learn them because I insert them into conversation whenever possible.

  • “Harmless, harmless, meaningless…bouquets of sharpened pencils.”
  • “Meanwhile, I am putting up more twinkle lights!”
  • “I’m going to get some eucalyptus candles because they make my apartment smell moss-AY”
  • “That caviar is a garnish!”
  • “I am a lone reed.”
  • “I said we were a goddamn piazza where people could mingle and mix and be! I was eloquent! Shit!”
  • “We will do it today! They cried. And you will be the one to put the mouse in the jar!”
  • “One hundred and fifty two insights into my soul!”
  • “He ran Spain. The country. He ran it. It was his job.”
  • “Words like thither, mischance, felicity!”

I realize these aren’t even memorable lines; I love it that much.

Kathleen Kelly taught me how to be a whimsical adult, marveling at butterflies on the subway and whether or not her small little life was meaningful. She galavanted around New York in cardigans and read Pride and Prejudice in coffee shops. I liked her because she seemed to spend a lot of her time in loungewear with books and mugs of tea which is all I want to be doing at most moments.

You’ve Got Mail has been the background noise in my life for almost as long as I can remember. I watched it in my dorm room freshman year when I was so lonely I could hardly breathe but for those two hours I felt at home. Later on in college, my friend Colleen and I loved nothing more than to curl up on our couch with a glass of orange juice and bowl of popcorn (the best combination) and watch it on a Friday night. Now, when my roommate is out of town I put it on while I wash the dishes so my house doesn’t feel so empty. It feels cozy and familiar, a little piece of my life that never changes and is always satisfying.

Besides writing the greatest of all movies (and some other pretty great ones as well), Nora was amazing in many other areas. Such as marrying Carl Bernstein, divorcing him, then writing a book about it that was turned into a movie where she was played by Meryl Streep….I mean, come on. She worked her way up as a writer at a time when men dominated journalism. She got hired at Newsweek as a mailgirl because she was told women couldn’t be writers but soon bylines in Esquire, The New Yorker, and New York Magazine. When she was little, her mother, a playwright, told her “take notes, everything is copy.” My parents, also writers, have been telling me the same thing since I could talk.* Making something interesting out of the everyday-ness of life is harder than it seems and I don’t claim to be any good at it, but Nora Ephron was a master.

I think that Nora would have liked our blog and that maybe it would have reminded her of herself when she was our age before she really grew into herself. I hope she might think we were charming, babbling on about best friend rules and the hours of 2-5pm. I like to imagine that she offered this piece of advice just to us and not to the entire 1996 graduating class of Wellesly College. “Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: You can always change your mind.”

So, to Nora, a woman who truly did everything, we would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if only we knew your address. Thank you for inspiring us to be the heroines of our own stories, and for telling us it’s okay that those stories include loungewear and witty comebacks via text messages. We will miss you and the lovely worlds you created.

;

*This led to melodramatic teenage arguments I punctuated with “This is going to reflect poorly on you in my forthcoming memoir.”

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Filed under emily, people we like and wish we knew

an open letter to taylor swift

Tay,

First of all, can I call you Tay? I feel like we’re really close since I spent all last weekend in the same arena as you singing along to really personal song about your life. Maybe me calling you Tay makes you uncomfortable because I know so much about you and you don’t know anything about me, which is totally reasonable.

Well, I’m 23 and I start grad school next week to learn how to be a counselor. I also work part-time at a toy store which I think is so whimsical. (I’m really into being whimsical- I think we might have this in common.) Oh, and I have the entertainment preferences of a 14 year old girl. I love your bestie Selena and I am very emotionally invested in “Pretty Little Liars.” (Taylor, who is A?! Can you use your celebrity powers to figure this out for me?) I also like you, of course. To be honest, most of my friends like you too, but they would probably say you fall under the category of guilty pleasure music because we are supposed to be adults who listen to adult music. I don’t believe in having guilty pleasures, I think if you like something then you like it and you shouldn’t be embarrassed. And I’m totally not- which is why I’m okay telling the Internet that I saw both of your St Louis shows this past weekend and that on Sunday night I was in the middle of making a very sad looking sign in a desperate attempt to upgrade my crappy seats when a cute Auburn grad who works for you offered my friend and I pit passes. He was around our age and it had the potential to be a total meet-cute except I spazzed out and rambled on about how excited I was like an insane person. (If you happen to see this boy please tell him that I am not crazy. I am a normal person who writes open letters to strangers on the Internet!)

Anyway, that’s how I ended up watching you show from the pit on Sunday night and how I somehow transformed from a semi-professional grown ass lady to a screaming teenybopper jumping up and down and telling a six year old to “BACK OFF” because she tried to steal my spot. (You don’t understand, she was being a real brat and her mom was hardcore invading my personal space.)

Can I just say that you put on a phenomenal live show? I love that you dance on stage the same way that I dance to your songs when I’m alone in my bedroom- strutting around and making exaggerated facial expressions. You, your band, and dancers seem to be having the best time. The first night I saw you, my two friends and I were up in the cheap seats. You gave a little monologue about how great a crowd we were and how you were so happy to be in St. Louis. My friend, who is a more reluctant fan of your’s than I, leaned over and said, “You know what? I totally believe her.” Even though you gave the same speech the next night and probably every night of your tour (Not faulting you Tay, just stating facts!) I believed you too. That’s not an easy thing to do, but you seem to be remarkably un-cynical and unbelievably amazed and grateful that 14,000 of us chose to spend our evening with you.

I saw so many little girls holding up signs declaring that this was their first concert and I was so happy that a generation of girls gets to grow up with that experience. When you and I were growing up, we had Britney and Christina who were fun, but they didn’t get us, Taylor. They were making music that made us wish we were older than we were but not speaking to us where we were. They didn’t tell me that when I was 15 and someone told me they loved that I would believe them or that it was okay to feel reflective and sad about moving out of my parent’s house. They didn’t make silly YouTube videos of adventures they had with their band and I don’t remember Brit ever writing a song about her break-up with JT.

I hope that when those little girls I saw this weekend grow up they will be able to proudly tell their kids that this was their first concert and it won’t seem embarrassing or dated the way that Britney and Christina seem now because I hope you will still be making music that I will hopefully still be dancing around in my bedroom to.

Sincerely,
Emily

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Badass Lady Politicians: Laura Bush

Welcome to the first installment in our series of badass lady politicians. Today we are going to talk about one of the most popular first ladies of all time and my new personal hero, Laura Bush.

There are so many things I want to tell you about Laura Bush, that I think I could start a whole other blog about how much I love this woman. I want to tell you about how she was the only first lady to ever deliver a Saturday morning radio address in which she expressed her deep concern for the plight of Afghan women. I want to tell you that she has had the same group of friends since college and threw sleepovers for them in the White House. I want to tell you that she did more for the arts than any first lady other than, possibly, Jackie Kennedy. I want to tell you that if you think she is just a meek, unassuming, Stepford wife then you are mistaken.

The picture of Laura that emerges through even just a little research is exactly the opposite. She possesses a quiet confidence and calm temperament that has been hard-won. She grew up an only child who watched her mother suffer through 3 miscarriages. In high school she was responsible for a car accident that killed a fellow classmate. She stood next to her husband as he and their family were repeatedly dragged through the mud by the media, not to mention through his struggles with alcohol early in their marriage. Through all of this she has remained even-keeled and kind hearted. This is pure speculation, of course, but I really believe that her grace under pressure is more than the result of good media training. It is a character hard-won by suffering grief and loss and continuing to move forward in the face of it.

One of my favorite things about Laura Bush is, of course, her love for reading. She claims to read a book a week and carries around a copy of The Brothers Karamazov held together by a rubber band. She told NPR she loves the Grand Inquisitor scene because “it’s about life, it’s about death, it’s about Christ. I find it very reassuring.” Her favorite type of literature though, is children’s literature. She truly believes that reading is a gift and as a fellow only child, I can related to this love for books that filled the void of siblings. I believe that Laura would agree with Kathleen Kelly when she says that “when you read a book as a child it affects you in a way that no other reading in your whole life can.” Laura grew up surrounded by Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls and she has spent much of her life trying to pass that same gift on to every child.

I’ve watched enough Friday Night Lights episodes to know that it’s not easy to give up something you love in order for your partner to pursue something they love. Before George went into politics, Laura was a deeply committed librarian in an inner-city school. It must have been a hard transition from school librarian to public figure. In fact she originally made George promise that she would never have to give a speech. Fast forward to 2004 where she spoke at the Republican National Convention in front of millions of people or when she stole the show with her Chippendales line at the 2005 White House Correspondents Dinner. She handled the transition with her trademark poise and eventually became a huge asset to her husband’s campaign. (full disclosure: watching Bush introduce Laura at the RNC makes me weep. I can’t explain this.)

Just in case you are still lingering under the impression that she is nothing more than a sweet Southern librarian, consider this story: When Laura was first introduced to Dorothy Bush, the notoriously intimidating grandmother of her future husband, she was asked what she did for a living. Laura replied, “I read, I smoke, and I admire.” I mean, how badass is that?! I dare anyone of you to look your boyfriend’s grandma in the face and say that! The woman has spunk but she knows when it’s appropriate to use it.

Speaking about the first time he met his wife, George Bush said he was struck by how interested she was. Interest in getting to know people and learning their story, interested in reading, interested in traveling and new experiences. This is one of the great lessons we can take from Laura Bush. In a world where so many of us are striving to be interesting, focusing on trying to impress people with how much we know or how cool we are, Laura decided to be interested. And that, I believe, has made all the difference. There are so many more things I want to tell you about her, but I hope i’ve at least sparked enough curiosity in you to check out her wonderful autobiography “Spoken from the Heart.” And, Laura, if you’re reading this and in the market for a young woman to mentor please call this girl up!

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Filed under emily, people we like and wish we knew

girl, get your shit together

Do you ever look at someone and think, “Man, that person has defied the odds. They really have it together. I respect that.”
I certainly do…a lot.
This is a list of people who have defied the odds: crazy families, bad rapper names, weight problems. They have come out on the other side of these things demanding respect. So…this is me saying “props to you guys! you really have your shit together.”

LL Cool J- At first glance, you might be confused. I mean, his rapper name stands for ‘ladies love cool james.’ Seriously LL, you are better than this. You might also think to yourself, ‘Damn, I can’t name one rap song by LL Cool J.’ However, boyfriend got his shit together. You will know this if you have seen A. his guns and B. NCIS. He’s also been married to the same woman for 11 years and they have 4 kids. I respect that above all else.
The Olson Twins– If you are a child of the 90’s you probably remember dancing around the living room to Mary Kate and Ashley’s ‘my first video.’ Their hits included ‘Brother for Sale’ and ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly.’ I swear I still get those songs stuck in my head. They overcame their awkward teenage years (has anyone seen ‘Passport to Paris???’), anorexia, and New York Minute. NOW, they are billionaires in possession of a fashion empire. If anyone deserves to be taken seriously, its MK and Ash. Way to go, ladies.
Jennifer Hudson– She got 7th place in American Idol. SEVENTH PLACE. And look at her now! She, seriously kicked ass in Dreamgirls. Girlfriend has got a voice. Even when tragedy struck her family a few years ago, she quietly took some time off and came back confident, sexy, and about 50 pounds lighter. So, Jen (can I call you Jen?), girl, I respect that. And I respect you.
Khloe Kardashian – To the uneducated, non E! watching folks out there, Khloe Kardashian is the reject 3rd Kardashian sister who is always on the cover of US for her weight problems. BUT have you ever watched Khloe & Lamar??!! Khloe somehow landed herself the best husband ever: NBA star Lamar Odom. They have a surprisingly loving and functional marriage. Also, Khloe is brimming with common sense. If you watch the show long enough, you understand that everything Khloe says is right. AND she made a unisex fragrance???? Who does that???? Khloe, that’s who.

So…go forth…and get YOUR shit together.

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Filed under katie, people we like and wish we knew

blogger cage match: hellogiggles vs. matchbook

Every wannabe 20 something girl blogger faithfully worships more seasoned female bloggers. It’s just a fact. Lately I’ve realized that these girls can be divided into two categories: Matchbook girls and HelloGiggles girls. If you aren’t familiar, Matchbook is an online magazine who claims the subtitle “the field guide to a charmed life.” I quickly realized that I was not, in fact, a matchbook girl, considering I love my Adidas sweatpants much more than my yellow cardigan from JCrew; not to mention that my roots are showing and I would much rather have a beer than a mint julep.
Just as I was feeling lost on the internet, wondering if there would ever be a band of females could come up alongside me and appreciate the same things as I do (lounge wear, wearing flip flops in inappropriate places, and self-dying my hair) HelloGiggles came along. These ladies are hilarious. With posts titled “How One Bottle of Grey Nail Polish Made me too Important” how could it not be awesome?
So, just to clarify where you stand, here are some quotes from Matchbook and HelloGiggles:

Matchbook quotes:
The Matchbook girl… is trying her hand at @GwynethPaltrow‘s grilled tuna rolls – a perfect summer lunch, we say:)

The Matchbook girl…is the queen of the artfully arranged vignette.

The Matchbook girl… adds strawberry picking and a new croquet set to her Summer wish list.

Being kind is the Matchbook way 🙂

The Matchbook girl… has a soft spot for letterpress and apricot ink.

This Matchbook girl never met a gingham she did not like.

HelloGiggles quotes:
Look, I’m not saying write out a list that describes Prince Charming down to the freckles in his eyes, but don’t just settle on anyone that happens to be funny with a job – Marissa A. Ross

I always just feel like I’m being bossed around when I go to a surprise party: “Oh, could you park your car 4 blocks away so she doesn’t see?” Or when you are suddenly shushed from your mindless small talk with someone’s 2nd cousin because of a false alarm that the GUEST of HONOR has arrived. Do not shush me until you have 100 % confirmation and also just don’t say, “Shhh!” to me, ever.- Sophia Rossi

Anyway, so on this lovely Sunday at one of LA’s finest establishments, I was not exactly feeling my finest. I knew this wasn’t my crowd (beautiful, fashionable, married ladies). – Sophia Rossi

I walked into the restaurant alone, shifting my tights and taking a deep breath as I tried to overcome the fear of assigned seating. That is everyone’s fear at a party, admit it. -Sophia Rossi

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love grocery shopping. If there’s another thing you should know about me, it’s that I like Paris Hilton’s music. Like, I bought it and it’s on my iPod. – Stephanie Sparer

I pretended instead that I’m cool and collected and not neurotic as I silently picked up some Earl Grey and she, some vegan gluten free non-dairy organic something Oolong and we parted ways before I got the chance to tell her Rachel Cruz was lying, but if I was a lesbian, I’d be like Portia de Rossi. Seriously, that woman is crazy gorgeous. – Stephanie Sparer

So, I had bleached hair and it started to get really weird because of the pool and the sun. It was like, a blondish greenish. Not appealing! So I decided, “Oh, I am going to try to be all cool like Joan Jett and cut it off so it wont look bad anymore!”
BIG MISTAKE! – Ruby Karp

These are the words I repeat to myself when I need to create an empowering moment.- Marianna Tabares

As much as I’m dedicated to the hip hop lifestyle, I also like to mellow out with moody indie rock. How diverse of me! – Molly McAleer

So, ladies, who is it going to be? Matchbook or HelloGiggles?

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Filed under katie, people we know and like, people we like and wish we knew