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Archive for the ‘Me’ Category

Shark Attack

What is it about sharks at the moment? First there was that mad film Sharks in a Tornado or something. Then there was one found on the subway. Then the Rocket Scientist had a dream where one was biting his fist and he had to scrap its gums to get it to let go (dentist anxiety or was he sleeping on his hand?).

So well done TopShop for predicting the selachimorphamania and producing this:

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Oh crikey, Brit designer Emma Cook is in on it too:

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Both Givenchy and Philip Lim have shark tooth designs in the current collections:

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We’re going to need a bigger wardrobe…

 

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Swimsuit Time

This week the UK is going to experience a heatwave.

Not a heatwave by New York standards, indeed the 17 degree temperature (about 62 in fahrenheit) probably wouldn’t even register on a New Yorker’s idea of hot weather.

Nonetheless, in the UK (a country, which in the five early-summer weeks I’ve been back has experienced snow, hail, high winds and torrential rain), you have to take what you can get.

Since my parents own a (little used but heated) swimming pool and my photographer friend Chloe is not away on some exotic location for once and wants to come around for a dip, I’ve ordered a new swimsuit.

Buying a swimsuit is not most people’s idea of a good time so buying your first one after the birth of a child you’d think would take the trauma one step further.

However, my new body-shape needs make the selection quite simple: just find me something that covers up the area between my shoulders and upper thigh. No more  trying to figure out what cut of bikini makes me look thin; agonizing over halternecks or bandeau in the cold light of the changing room mirror.

I just want something that is vaguely pretty, vaguely cool and shows off my best bits (carrying around a 20lb baby makes for toned arms, and my legs have always been pretty good), and covers up the rest. Not black, not ugly, has padded cups but doesn’t make me look like an atomic Jessica Rabbit.

I’ve bought this one from The White Company. Pretty, non?

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Mail Order Fashion

My quick, two-week visit back to the UK has turned into an entire month. Never trust a lawyer who says, yes go go go, your visa will be in next week and you can kill two birds with one stone by going to your home US Consulate.

Almost five weeks later and my visa will be FINALLY in my hot, sweaty (from stress and pulling out of hair) palms by Tuesday and I will – with any luck – be on a plane on Wednesday back to my home and husband.

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The H1B’s patience is running out – but hardly surprising as this has been the longest we’ve been apart since we met, plus he hasn’t seen his 10-month-old daughter for a 10th of her life (that’s a long time in pre-toddler days).

Anyway, on the upside, all this being stuck in the depths of the Surrey woods has given me ample time to indulge in some decent UK shopping. And I don’t even have to worry about the rising cost of parking (my mother’s relentless gripe).

While everyone knows there has been a boom in internet shopping, what has quietly and successfully taken off in the UK is the mail order catalogue. I’m not talking about the 1990s JJ Bean variety, or those ones that sell post-menopausal women fleecy nighties.

ImageMy mum’s kitchen table is littered with catalogues from super-stylish companies (and generally v. expensive – as if ordering from a book somehow makes you forget the value of the pound… like when you went to France pre-Euro days and thought you were a millionaire).

Some of the good ones are The White Company, Wrap, Plumo, Pure and Baukjen. Of course, Boden has been doing this for years and has recently itself had a bit of an style upgrade. (Boden has made it over to the US quite successfully and I know they are looking at a rebrand so they can appeal to the US yummy mummies even more.)

Although, not to forget the web for one moment, another new discovery is Atterley Road, who I’m  more than a bit obsessed with. They have perfectly captured the market gap between ASOS (young, low-ish quality, very fashion driven) and Net-a-Porter ($$$, dresses that wouldn’t fare well with baby chuck-up). It’s full of curated pieces from Hobbs, Jigsaw, Whistles (basically, the best of the British high street if you are over 25), and a few less well-known brands like Danish Ilse Jacobsen and Peach Pink, who do nice, not-bonkers-expensive handbags.

And, ta-dah, they currently do free shipping to the US.

So I can feel doubly good about heading back to Brooklyn asap.

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Gisele Goes Make-Up Free!

Johan Lindeberg, Hayley Phelan, Gisele Bundchen

pic from FashionistaGisele Goes Make-Up Free!

A make-up free state is OK for Gisele but the rest of us should take caution. I should be grateful that my husband maintains that I’m the best-looking gal he’s ever seen. Charming, but outside the comfortable boundaries of domestic bliss, this false sense of security can have grave consequences. In our early days of romance, I would, for instance, happily bound into work in at a hip television company in North London, my face free of under-eye cover-up and pale eyelashes untainted by mascara – carefree in the thought that love provides a more powerful glow than Nars Orgasm blusher. Only to head to the bathroom mid-morning and catch a glance of myself in the mirror under the fluorescent bulb, and run silently screaming to the beauty cupboard.

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How to Make Friends

I love this post from Jezebel, about how to make friends when you are old.

As someone who is under 37 (OK, I am 37), who has lived in four countries, ten cities and too many new houses to mention, I know a thing or two about making new acquaintances.  When I moved to Brooklyn for my husband’s job and with a visa that wouldn’t let me work, it was soundly up to me to make a home. And that meant making friends.

Falling pregnant in the second week you are in your new city helps. Yes, there is the awful morning sickness, the homing-pigeon hormones that have you weeping for your childhood bed and the sobriety but having a baby is one hell of a way to meet people. Pre-natal yoga, hospital waiting rooms, birthing classes are all excellent places to meet kindred spirits. It’s not like you can’t spot someone in the same situation as you either.

However, making friends when you are pregnant can be very odd too. Bonding over leaking breasts gives a a false feeling of intimacy  You’ll find yourself in situations where you’ll know if someone has a family history of postnatal incontinence or hemorrhoids before you know if they have any siblings. Or before you’ve even had a chance to snoop around their bathroom cabinet during a coffee morning.

Once the baby is born, if you meet a new friend in the supermarket queue for example, there is a danger of unintentional over-sharing because you are so damned happy to be talking to an adult for the first time in eight hours. Like the time I told a woman that I used to fake a squint as a child for attention. It’s not just me and my social Tourette’s. Total strangers have asked if I’m planning a vaginal birth or not. Sir, the stretchability of my cervix is none of your business!

Mommy ‘meet up’ groups should be treated with caution too. They are OK  for the first six weeks when frankly you are so high on hormones and delirious with lack of sleep that you could talk to a lamppost if it stood next to a cushioned seat that won’t irritate your suppurating C-section wound. But after that, it won’t take you long to consider ditching the group. And this is to be advised, least you go mad with the ‘Mommyness’ of it all.

I’ve sat through lunches where one Perrier-sipping woman said that she didn’t watch TV or check her Blackberry while she was breastfeeding least the baby feel she wasn’t totally present. I took a slug of my lager shandy and mumbled something about a mother’s sanity being the most vital element in child raising.

And, stay away from Mommy websites too. They may be good for snapping up a second-hand Bugaboo but they do breed a certain type of parent that has way too much time on their hands. One recent post by a local mom asked how other mothers were dealing with the ‘hair pulling phase’. She stated that her eight month old baby was yanking her hair really hard but she didn’t want to stop him least it limit the baby’s sense of adventures and curiosity.

Because they wouldn’t be able to see me rolling my eyes, I cancelled my membership. (That will teach them; though if anyone knows of anyone who is flogging a second-hand umbrella stroller, do let me know.)

Now my baby is nearly nine months, I can say I have four good local mum friends. One is my neighbour, two I met in the same birthing class and one I met randomly in Gorilla Coffee. That’s plenty for me.

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Pinch and Punch…

To celebrate the first day of December, here are some Santa socks. I don’t actually know how I acquired these socks or who they belong to. If they are yours, you can’t have them back. Sorry.

 

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What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot actually. Now that the H1B and I are an official couple (lovely ceremony, thanks), the next step is to decide whether I should keep my maiden name or take his.

My initial thoughts are to take his name on a personal basis, for family reasons – and, probably more importantly, given our impending visit to the US Consulate, for smoother visa applications – but keep my maiden name on a professional basis.

But what are the real knock-on effects to taking one name or keeping the other?

A recent news story claimed that women who change their name can lose a potential $500,000 in earnings. Scrreeeech; what the..? On that basis alone, I’d be very happy to stay with the name I was born with. But we don’t really believe that, do we? I mean, they only asked 90 women, in Holland.

While we’re on the subject of money, how much does it cost to change your name anyway? Well, I’ve got a marriage certificate, so legally I’m a Mrs, but to change my name on my passport costs between £77.50 and £129.50, for a fast-track service.

To change my UK drivers license is free but I need my updated passport to change my photo – I have an unfortunate fringed bob from my 2nd year university days so might as well get that eradicated. That, and a few phone calls to the bank, mobile phone company and credit card companies, and it doesn’t seem too steep.

What about the emotional issues? Is it unfeminist to take your husband’s name? Personally I don’t think so – but then I’ve never worked out why doing something ‘feminine’ is seen as anti-feminist (if you do something because it is a reaction against male supremacy/control, doesn’t the root of that action make it inherently male-orientated?). Plus, that whole argument about being someone’s “property” feels to me about 150 years out of date.

One of the comments on this Guardian feature about whether it’s all worth the hassle calls women who change their name “spineless”. Ouch.

I feel there is something traditional, ceremonial and inherently romantic about taking your husband’s name. But I can see why women don’t – and I think that is cool too; although slightly confusing from a paperwork perspective, and most seem to change their names once they have kids anyway.

I won’t lie by saying that I’d mourn the sense of identity that is connected to my maiden name – name tapes neatly sewn in school uniforms, teenage poems in Valentine cards, first pay check, my byline. The H1B has called me by a derivative of my surname as a nickname since we got together, and I was surprisingly relieved that didn’t change after the wedding night. So maybe the name change would affect me more than I realise.

Will have to make my mind up soon.

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