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Lisa Birnbach's Five Things That Make Life Better on March 15, 2019

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Oh Spring, you are teasing us!

One day it’s on; one day it’s off. It’s gorgeously sunny and seasonally temperate today as I tape this, and yet I’m still bracing for a winter storm between now and Easter. You know, just to not be too disappointed it it were to happen. (If I remember correctly, the famous diet doctor, Dr. Atkins, slipped on the ice and died several APRILs ago.). (I just looked it up. April, 2003.)

 

But without nattering on about the weather, let’s get to the list of the five things that enhanced this week for me. Hoping to inspire you towards some grateful moments of your own.

1). Connecting people together. I love to introduce friends and associates to one another — you’ve written a new book and want to hire a publicist? I have just the one (or 3); let me call her. You need a great rheumatologist? I have one. You just moved to Dallas and need a friend? I have one. It’s satisfying to be helpful and it’s nice to close the circle a little. I like when my friends like one another and have been surprised by how well some of them get along. (I have also introduced a few couples that married; and many more that didn't.).



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2). This fantastic product, Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser, was the actual subject of an entire conversation at a family meal the other day. My sister-in-law, my daughter-in-law, and I all have had great results using this sponge for various stains, scratches, and marks that honestly I would not have known how to otherwise repair or cover up. I am not sponsored by Mr. Clean, his rich father, or his overseas bank account, but I found this consensus overwhelming, and I share it with you, in case you haven’t tried it yet.


 

3). Date night. When my marriage broke up, I started to hear a lot about “date night,” a common (I guess) weekly rite of married couples to be alone together, and keep the embers of love burning after children or years erode the passion or magic [twice in one blog] between a pair of cohabiting adults. My former husband and I grew so far apart that a date night would have been uncomfortable and not fun. So many of my friends scheduled regular date nights that I wondered, really wondered. “where was I when the memo was sent out?” Did everyone know about these except us? Well now I’ve been in a relationship for about 8 years and we do not have a weekly appointment together. But last week I dressed up to go out to dinner with my fella, and it felt good. Was it a date or was it just dinner in a little makeup? In any case, after a few months of layering and dressing for warmth, it felt nice to show my legs and make an effort.

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4). Suddenly, there’s a thing called Micellar Water, and it’s everywhere. According to ALLURE Magazine — which should know, “Micellar (pronounced my-sell-er) water is a combination of purified water; hydrating ingredients, such as glycerin; and low concentrations of extremely mild surfactants, according to cosmetic chemist Joseph Cincotta. "‘The molecules of those mild surfactants naturally group together to form microscopic spheres called micelles, which act like magnets for dirt and oil,’ Cincotta explains.” A few months ago, I found myself with sensitive skin and had to be very careful about soaps, moisturizers, shampoos, etc. I decided to try the harmless micellar water and I like it. I think different products offer different attributes, but that knowledge is above my pay grade, as they say.

 
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5). Is this the week? Or will it be next week? I come here to praise Mueller, not predict his timing.

Be good and act natural!

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Extra Bonus Blog: A Guest Writes In

Katy Coffey, left, and her mom Terry Bruno Coffey.

Katy Coffey, left, and her mom Terry Bruno Coffey.

I’m sure each of you has a friend that you’ve met online somewhere that you somehow care about even though you don’t actually know him/her/them well in real life. Someone whose ups and downs you’ve navigated from a distance but with a full heart. My person is Katy Coffey, whom I did meet once, along with her son Beck, when they were in New York a few years ago. We “met” the old fashioned way, on Facebook, through our mutual friend Kera Bolonik, who is also wonderful. These two Chicago-area natives wear their hearts on their sleeves, such a rarity these days.

In the last year or so, Katy closed down her business, Chocolate Twist (candy making) , helped nurse her mother back from a stroke, (maybe not in that order), and found a job at the nursing home/senior living facility where her mother was living. Katy has found fulfillment there, and exudes gratitude along with laughs. This verbatim text arrived for me this week, and I am sharing it because — and I don’t say this lightly — it sparks joy.

 

1). My hair is so fun. It makes me laugh daily. [Ed note: She cut her hair very short and as it’s growing out, it takes on a life and shape of its own.]

2). I’ve finally whittled my life down to officially categorize it as “uncomplicated.” This brings me so much joy.

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3). I just became a group barbells instructor and I now teach classes. I was expecting to love it but what I didn’t expect was how humbling and empowering it is. That 9 women want to join me on a Saturday morning at 8am to participate in a really hard workout makes my heart sing. And pound. 

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4).  My kids are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. No monkey business or flimflam. They’ve found their voices and talents and are productive citizens of the world. What more could a mama ask for?

5).  I love with my whole heart sitting on the couch and needle pointing. It’s my Sunday afternoon treat to myself after getting through the week. I’m currently working on a canvas that I’m finishing for my BFF’s second baby that will be making Her debut in May. Every stitch is doused in my love for my friend and soon to be new niece. 

This is an image that came up when I googled “joy.”

This is an image that came up when I googled “joy.”

Perhaps the best part of Katy’s text was the ending:

“And if this isn’t Lisa I’m happy to have shared my thoughts with you.” 

Please feel free to send me your list of Five Things that make your lives better too, if you are so inclined.

xLisa

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Lisa Birnbach's Five Things That Make Life Better on March 8, 2019

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I gave birth to a baby boy on March 7, 1990. I remember that when I entered the hospital the evening before, I wore a huge parka with fur framing the hood. (And as a woman past her 40th week — 10th month — I was running very warm all by myself.). On the day I was released — I think it was two days later, Spring had sprung and so had #ExhibitA ™. Exhibit A became the fulcrum of my life thereafter, until I had to split my focus when Exhibit B showed up and again when Exhibit C roared in.. And now my son is 29. And married. Whoah. It really seems to happen in a blink.

Anyway, seeing my child in good shape leads me to my list of 5 things that made my life better, sweeter this week. My hope is to inspire you to remember some things or people that made your life better in some way this crazy winter.

 

So now,

1) Happy son. He’s not my wholly-owned subsidiary any more. Now he has a wife, and they belong to one another. But we all get along beautifully, and I cannot ask for more. Also my daughters, who are thriving, are not chopped liver. I’m amazed by how close I feel to them.

 
Delicious!

Delicious!

2). Fresh mango. For years I confused papaya and mango with one another. They are two sweet fruits of warm climates that are considered exotic. I like papaya and thought it was a great taste until I discovered mango. No competition. I love its flavor and texture. While mango is featured in every fruit plate you’ll get in Mexico or Thailand, like an orange slice here, I often forget that mango is available at every market at home.


 
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3). @CocoFloss, a cool, (probably hipster or just) hip new dental floss.  Is it the packaging?  The flavors? The thickness and smoothness of the string?  Somehow flossing is more fun with it than without it, and I use it much more regularly. By the way, I think I first read about it on a blog  called Girls of a Certain Age.  Check that out too.

 
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4). I’m late to the Educated party. I know Barack Obama read it last year and loved it. (I’m trying to keep up – I really am!)  Tara Westover’s story, calmly told, begins in a shack out west where her survivalist parents shun education and conventional thinking, and ends up at the pinnacle of the ivory tower at Cambridge University. How Tara got there is some kind of miracle. I thought of this book today while in my class on Identity and Justice. Victor Hugo, we were told wrote “Opening more schools will obviate the need for prisons.” Education is… well… everything. It’s the leg up. It’s the ability to think dialectically — holding conflicting ideas in our heads. It’s the opportunity to get rough edges polished. It’s a new group of friends and mentors. I always knew that I would be going to college; in my nuclear family it was an expectation.

Little did I realize what a privilege that was.

 
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5). )  Robert Mueller has been called an American hero before.  When I call him a hero everybody says I have a crush on him. When Ty Cobb, who used to be Trump’s lawyer, calls him an American hero – everyone swoons. I am looking forward to his report, to put it mildly.


 

Stay safe and act natural!







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Lisa Birnbach's Five Things That Make Life Better on March 1, 2019

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Just back from vacation

Greetings Friends,

I did not forget you while I was escaping winter and reality for a bit, but I honestly was more introspective and indolent. It was a vacation, not a business trip, and I spent the week with friends in Mexico. We laughed. We ate guacamole and quesadillas. We lounged. I read. There was more guacamole. We walked on the beach. We looked for whales. We ate guacamole while we looked for whales. (I drank the occasional margarita.). We laughed the whole time. There were hard laughs that turned to tears. They recharged me.

It’s not going to be easy to give you five things that made my week better without guacamole, but I’ll give it a try.

 
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1). Traveling with friends. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially when your friend Marsha organizes it. It’s also wonderful to travel with family, to travel with kids, to travel with your husband/wife/partner/BFF but this trip was special. It was only 7 people, and the place we stayed had 8 bedrooms, so we didn’t fill it up, and no one had to do anything they didn’t want to do, or in fact anything at all. And, as I said, I just showed up; had no hand in selecting the place, making reservations, or hiring taxis. Thank you M!!! I made a new friend and reaffirmed good warm feelings with everyone else.

 
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I can read this menu all the way from home!

I can read this menu all the way from home!

2). PERHAPS THE GREATEST INVENTION of all time is something I saw for the first time at the Aqua restaurant at the Pamilla One & Only resort. It is …. an iluminated menu!. How genius is that? No more stress! No more hunting for reading glasses. No more jimmying the candle to right under your bangs (“What’s that smell?” “Something’s burning”) so you can see the minuscule type. {One day someone can explain to me why menus are printed in such small fonts. Are restaurateurs scared of pages? I’d rather see a 3-page menu I can read than a one-page menu that I can sort of see if I squint.). PLUS, the menu, which only lights up when you open the cover, is a fun toy. I felt like a toddler with a present. I hope these take off at restaurants everywhere.

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3). Winter is still here. As long as I’m dressed for it, I don’t mind the cold, particularly when the sun is shining. When not prepared, winter feels like a siege. With so many layers and so many temperatures to deal with in a day — subway, streets, offices, home, shops, and brisk walks — the core tends to get overheated, or at least mine does. But my feet are often cold. . If yours are too, here’s some unsolicited advice. Get a pair of these — sheepskin inner soles — to add to your boots. You can find them at your local shoemaker or online. Make sure they are not too thick for your boots. (They come in sizes.). You’re welcome.

 
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4). Ad Hoc Book Groups. I bet quite a lot of you are in book clubs of some kind. For some they are the only excuse you have to do pleasure reading. For others they are a purely delightful social opportunity, but more like a wine tasting. Still others I know find their book club an obligation that’s too fraught to quit. My friend Jamie just sent me this book, which we are going to start on the same day and discuss as we go along. We live across the country from one another, but this is a brilliant way to stay connected. I salute you, Jamie for this ingenious idea.







 
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5). Robert Mueller comes in at number 5 this week. I honestly didn’t think about him much while I was in Cabo, which means, scientifically, it’s not a crush. Which I already knew. But I did wear my I HEART Robert Mueller t-shirt while I took a walk on the beach (thereby combining two of my favorite things on earth.)

Stay cozy and act natural!

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Lisa Birnbach's Five Things That Make Life Better on February 22, 2019

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I wrote this blog on “Presidents’ Day” and I post this picture of a great president and a great Republican, Abraham Lincoln. It’s no wonder he is considered one of our greatest presidents. And isn’t it shocking that we’ve only had 45 presidents preside over our country? I think Andover has had more than that! (By the way, if you are a fan of audio books, George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo” is an incredible audio experience — more like a play mixed with a dream. I highly recommend it.)

Here are the five things that made my week sweet.

1) It’s hard to find a stock image of POLITENESS, which goes to the top of the list. Actually it could go to the top of the list every week. As a culture, we used to be more mannerly. When someone makes the (nominal effort) to say please or thank you, I practically pant with appreciation. It’s gotten that bad. Today I heard a young girl, I’d say about 11 years old follow her mother out of a shop. Her mother said nothing but the girl said thank you and made the effort to make direct eye contact with the clerk she had worked with. I was impressed with this kid. Call me a fuddy duddy if you like. I call myself a fuddy duddy. Good manners make everyone feel better. They grease the wheels of pleasantness to one another.

 
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2). Shtisel on Netflix. When my friend Fred raves about something I pay attention. A discerning consumer of culture, he wrote a few social media posts about this tv series and used the word “obsessed.” I confess I’m way behind the usual NPR-American when it comes to tv series. I’ve yet to watch “Homeland” or “Breaking Bad.” (If you leave me now I’ll understand.). I came very late to “Downton Abbey”, “The Crown“ The Americans”, “The Good Place.” But I urge you to watch. . Made in Israel, it is the story of an extended Hasidic family. Now that I’ve lost you let me add that the script is in Hebrew and Yiddish with English subtitles. Want to hear more? On Shtisel we meet some of the most original characters I’ve ever met on any show. The writers and performers have made me fascinated about the people behind the unruly beards and sidekicks , and frumpy long skirts, and wigs. These are not the Jews of “The Goldbergs” or “Transparent”, yet they are fully formed and flawed, passionate human beings. The first season consists of 12 episodes. I watched all of them in 2 days. I just learned there’s a second season, and perhaps plans for a third. And from what I’m reading on other columns, blogs, and so forth — you don’t have to be Jewish to be fascinated.

Bonus Separated at Birth: Armie Hammer & Michael Aloni of “Shtisel”.
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3). Brodo bone broth. I read somewhere that bone broth was good and good for you. It’s a ton of protein in a low-calorie dose, it’s good for your skin, etc. (But do you believe everything you read?). (I respectfully retract that question.). Then I read about Brodo, a restaurant that sold very good bone broth made from the bones of cows, chickens, and turkeys or a combination thereof. I tried it at their Lower East Side store. Good. Warming. Great as a take-out drink when you can’t possibly have more coffee or tea. If you don’t live near a Brodo — as most of you do not — there’s hope in a plastic container for you. Brodo delivers its elixir — free in 39 states. If you live within a Fresh Direct region, you can order yours there. (I recommend its “Hearth” blend.) Brodo.com. (I still miss Bovril, the English “beef paste” which I used to consume like tea in the cold weather; no longer for sale in the US.)

 
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4) My friend Jessica is always game to try new places and experiences (remember the Rose Immersion?) and she invited me to meet some of her friends at Spring Place, a downtown work/social/fill in the next word club in Tribeca. It was Fashion Week. Spring Place is a Fashion Week sort of place. It is a large building, and there were hundreds of people everywhere — waiting to get in, waiting for an elevator, leaving a fashion show. A concierge told me where to meet Jessica (in the “Sixth Floor Sunken Living Room” to watch a documentary about the return of the 1970s brand Fiorucci). I ended up in a fashion show by mistake. And once in, I couldn’t leave. I felt like Lucy or more likely Ethel (Please don’t tell me you didn’t get the reference.) or say Melissa McCarthy in a fish-out-of-water comedy. No one noticed me when I took an actual seat. I got actual swag. While everyone else was oohing or pretending to ooh, or not oohing, I was looking at my watch wondering if the documentary would still be playing when I got out. That was a big laugh.

 
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5). For all of you who think I have an actual crush on Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, let it be said here that I don’t. I mean, it’s not romantic. I’m just really impressed with his service and his determination.

Stay warm and act natural!

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Lisa Birnbach's Five Things That Make Life Better on February 15, 2019

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You may now kiss the bride.

You may now kiss the bride.

I’m afraid I’m still all wedding-addled from Exhibit A’s ™ wonderful weekend when he married his beautiful bride. There’s nothing wrong with hanging onto Cloud 9 as long as you can. In fact, I believe it is recommended for one’s health.

Usually at a momentous occasion there are a lot of “if only we’d….” or “I should have said….” but I can honestly say I’m feeling content at the moment. The last thing my son told me was when I pointed to his wedding ring and he said, “It makes me happy every time I look at it.

 
Nina Lorez Collins

Nina Lorez Collins

But in case your son didn’t get married last week, there’s a whole week of gratitude to catch up on.

Meanwhile, I’m so pleased to tell you about this week’s guest. She is writer and editor Nina Lorez Collins, who in her spare time — and she has four children — founded the online and now real community called Woolfers, as in Virginia Woolf. Dealing with aging “without apology” as she terms it, Nina has written a book called What Would Virginia Woolf Do? that is published by Grand Central Publishing. She has also just released a volume of her late mother’s writings, entitled Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary, published by Ecco. I’m looking forward to hearing her five things shortly.

But first these five items have improved my life this week. Maybe they’ll inspire you.

 

1) I am heartened by the large numbers of women who have declared they are running for president. And the season is young! Given that women — those most emotional of creatures — have already been elected to lead such complicated countries as Germany, the UK, Ireland, Israel, India, Argentina, Phillippines, Norway, Pakistan, Switzerland, Finland, Peru, Macedonia, Thailand, Poland, Austria, and so on…. you’d think we could trust a female elected in the United States. We shall see. (A woman needs to prove she has the background and skills to do the job; but she can not be ruled out because she is a woman.) (Nor should be elected because she is female.)

 
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2. I am grateful for my “stepdaughter,” Izzy, who was as helpful in helping me prepare for the wedding as any of my own DNA-bearing exhibits. ™ . In fact she was wonderful. I want to note that #ExhibitI helped do the important work of dressing up bathrooms — much more exquisitely than I would have done. And we had a lot of fun together.

 
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3) Arranging flowers myself.

Of course we hired a florist to take take of the wedding. It was too easy not to. Room decorations, centerpieces for the tables, and a beautiful chuppah (marriage canopy) under which the couple stands. But for the rehearsal dinner, I did what any freelance writer with enough time and interest would do: I went to the flower district myself and bought flowers and vases. Michael at FleuraMetz USA gave us great advice on the size of our vases and how to mix ranunculus with roses, and very cool looking ruffled leaves. Jamali had the vases. The day of the rehearsal dinner was delightfully spent in making arrangements that weren’t too tall or too short; not to sparse or too stuffed. (Also the prices are much more gentle than at a florist’s.)

 
He’s about a day away from finding his place on the wall.

He’s about a day away from finding his place on the wall.

4) . Henry, as you know, is gone. But our painting of Henry just arrived after many months’-wait. It captures his spirit, and I like the homespun unrefined treatment.

 
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5) . Robert Mueller. Robert Mueller. Robert Mueller. Hang in there, Sir.

 

And now this week’s guest, the multi-talented writer and social media arbiter Nina Lorez Collins, founder of What Would Virginia Woolf Do and editor of her late mother’s collected writings, Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary (Ecco).

1) . MOD Dinners — periodic dinners with fellow (sister?) moderators of the Woolfers digital spaces, all of whom are volunteers. Laughter ensues.

 
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2) Fishnet stockings with a larger than usual net: (I have not described them well, but here’s a picture).

 

3) The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut.

A fantastic surprise when driving between New York and Boston, both architecturally and in its collections.

 
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4) . Lemon squares. (Especially at a MOD Dinner.) .

 
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5) . Skin Trip Lotion . (A family favorite.)

 

Stay dry and act natural!


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Lisa Birnbach's Five Things That Make Life Better on Feb. 8, 2019

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While you are reading this blog or listening to this week’s podcast, I will be experiencing something lifechanging: my son, Exhibit A ™’ (now I’m thinking about what tense to use, because you may be reading this Friday or later.) will have been getting married over the weekend. Yes, it’s a big step! And it’s such a joyful milestone and experience for our families.

The way he and his fiancee have planned and organized for this momentous tradition is very different from the way we did it … oh a century ago. FIrst of all they planned it, not us. (We were barely allowed to invite anyone.) There’s was no long engagement; no waiting a year to get ready. Who’s ever ready for a huge change in his or her life anyway? And they are not kids, so this event is a reflection of themselves, and not what they’re supposed to do.,

I’ve never seen my son happier; the look on his face when he bought the engagement ring was enough to convince me that he was deeply in love, which I already knew.

And his fiancée says she’s never met a man who makes her feel as good as my son does. That’s a lovely thing to hear.

So I think it’s fair to say that of my five things which made my life better, Love is number 1.

Candice Payne

Candice Payne

2) . I read a wonderful story over the weekend about a 34 year old real estate broker in Chicago, Candice Payne, who decided to personally rescue as many homeless people off the streets of Chicago during the impending polar vortex by buying inexpensive hotel rooms for a night or two. Her generosity didn’t end there; she had to transport the people to the hotel, feed them, and provide them with fresh clothes. Via social media Payne recruited other volunteers to help her ferry the homeless to the Amber Inn, as well as help pay for the hotel bill for what amounted to several more days, and 60 rooms altogether. Candice Payne is a hero. Through her acts of kindness, she jump-started other people’s altruism, and without waiting for laws to get passed or red tape to be cut. Here’s the story via the New York Times.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/02/us/candice-payne-homeless-chicago.html

 
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3) The Life-Changing Genius of adding Lug Soles to one’s shoes or boots.

Yesterday, these ankle boots had flat leather soles. Today, they are winterized with thick lug soles and heels. Who wouldn’t want that for their hard-working winter footwear? You can have these or any of a number of rubber soles affixed to your shoes (even red rubber ones to emulate Louboutins, if that’s your thing) at pretty much any shoemaker around. My thing is to not slip on the ice.

 
Richard E. Grant

Richard E. Grant

4) . I am crazy about actor Richard E. Grant. I’ve been aware of his work ever since the early 1990s when he appeared in a diverse group of movies such as “Henry and June,” “LA STory,’ “The Player,” “The Age of Innocence,” and no snob he — “Spice World.” He’s never boring, and doesn’t merely use his familiar bag of tricks to bring a character to life. I cite him now because he has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” as Jack Hock, the slithery sidekick to Melissa McCarthy’s Lee Israel. More than that, he is enjoying this run enormously. Though a recognized and famous actor at this point (62 years of age), he is not pulling a jaded, “Oh it’s an honor just to be nominated” pose; he’s joyous at every banal interview. Good for him! On Instagram Mr. Grant reads a fan letter he wrote to Barbra Streisand when he as a 14 year old fan in Swaziland. He finally got a response from Streisand (social media is a good lubricant.) and his reaction to it is priceless. https://www.instagram.com/p/BtOMJN6D2K7/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtPYSLiDUBk/

 
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5) . Hi, Mr. Mueller. Everything okay? Can I get you some coffee or Tylenol or oak tag? I’m here if you need me, just not this weekend.

 

Stay warm and act natural!


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Lisa Birnbach's Five Things That Make Life Better on Feb. 1, 2019

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Hello friends and countrymen. How are you faring in this polar vortex? Are you staying warm? Staying indoors? Getting cabin fever? Binging? Sometimes Mother Nature needs to rear her head and remind us that above all, she is in charge. And she is. We are at her mercy. So let’s not get in her way, and accept what she has offered. Or get on a plane and fly someplace warm while our TSA workers are back on the job.

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1) My new pajamas. I recently bought them online and they have jumped to the head of the line. You know how clothes can do that sometimes? A new favorite surprises you. These are made by Eberjey, and though I thought they would feel more like cotton flannel, they are poly- modal, which means they hold their shape better. (But they are not natural. I wonder if they make something like this in all cotton?) It’s not easy to find a short-sleeved top with long pajama pants. (I’ve tried; I know.)

 
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2. City mapper app. Don’t laugh, but growing up in New York in the 1970’s (yes, I’m old) I never took the subway. I took the bus (which was like watching paint dry; in other words s l o w). Citymapper is great for me; it estimates how long every option will take, how many calories you will burn for each (in an Uber? Not too many), and they even tell you which subway exit to use in case of rain. But they won me when they estimated how long a trip would take by jetpack. It makes me laugh every time I use the app. I loved Stophop, but I think this is even better. And I just learned they have apps for other cities as well — Boston, Philadelphia, London, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Lisbon, Copenhagen, and more! I never hear anyone talk about City Mapper, but I think it’s great.

 
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3.) Flannel-lined jeans. I bought them for my fella, and made myself a little jealous in the process. Please let me explain. I don’t mind the winter if it’s moderately sunny and I’m properly and warmly dressed. I am a person who wears long silk underwear for much of this season. But getting undressed at the gym and wherever else I get undressed — (none of your beeswax) — and dressed in the winter is such a long and exhausting drag. Lined jeans make so much sense. I ordered mine from “Old Reliable” — L.L. Bean. I didn’t even open the package until today, when the wind-chill made New York feel like -5 degrees Fahrenheit. They are great. I’ll wear them again tomorrow. Men, women, and children can get lined pants — lined in flannel or fleece from many places. Everyone in the Midwest should buy lined pants and long underwear and then when you’re all toasty and warm, resolve to not go outside until your thermometer shows a balmy +7. Okay?

 
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4) . “Gatz,” The Elevator Repair Company’s 8 hour production of (the entirety) of The Great Gatsby. I missed this when it was first produced at The Public Theater, but my Exhibit learned it was coming to Skirball Center, the performing arts venue at NYU. The lights go up on an office, one from the 1980s — large ugly computer monitors and hard drive boxes, ugly file cabinets, the sound of a constant whoosh of traffic through the doors. Eventually, when an office worker has trouble starting his computer, he pulls out a copy of “The Great Gatsby,” and reads it. Word for word. Eventually his co-workers become Daisy and Tom, Jordan, Muriel, and Jay Gatsby. There are several intermissions, including a 90 minute dinner break, but it’s almost worse breaking the spell and going out to find food. Though the set remains fixed, within short order, you think you’re seeing Gatsby’s estate in East Egg, or Myrtle’s squalid apartment, or Nick’s modest house. It is an extraordinary experience. The best part is the evocative writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald. No co-writers, no rewriters.

 
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5) . Majorities may come and majorities may go, but Robert Mueller, deliberate and calm, is reviewing all his files and depositions. Slow and steady wins the day.

 
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And now, The Five Things that Make Life Better for E. Jean Carroll!!

 
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1) Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. A little trick E. Jean learned from a former boyfriend who was an Olympic swimmer. Vaseline protects the skin and she slathers her face and body in it year round. It would explain her good skin.

 
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2) . Ezekiel Bread, Genesis 1:29 bread. It’s all organic and alive! Filled with sprouted seeds of all kinds. It’s a “seed cake,” as was mentioned in the work of Jane Austen. Ms. Carroll spreads hers with organic peanut butter. Find it in the freezer section of your grocery store.

 
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3) . Hey ladies, who doesn’t appreciate their hair color? E. Jean’s favorite is Feria by L’Oreal. She likes their conditioner.

 
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4) Her Pellet Stove. This is a new one for me, a small home stove (with chimney) that .burns pellets of compressed saw dust, that would be otherwise be trash. This little stove heats Carroll’s entire cabin, is much cheaper than her wood stove, and is better for the environment.

 
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5) A three way tie: The Good Place, a welcome part of E. Jean’s evening. She watches one episode before retiring for the evening. “A show about ethics!”

 
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Anthony Powell’s superb set of t2 novels, Dance to the Music of Time, which she listened to on audio. “You’re in for 3 delightful months, I promise you.

 
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But she broke the tie with her absolute favorite for Number 5: Nancy Pelosi! “She’s firm!”

 

Stay warm, no seriously — stay warm and act natural!

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