Check Your Baggage: 12 Tips for Handling Handbags

July 31, 2015 § 7 Comments

Ladypeople, listen up. Are you carrying the right bag? And furthermore: are you carrying that bag right?

If you’re unsure, don’t fret. I’ve studied the latest fashion ads for instructions, and the great news is that there’s a style to suit every one of us, no matter our needs or personal tastes. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Family doesn’t have to mean frumpy.


So you’re a mama now? Congrats, homegirl. But listen: Don’t let your diaper bag drag down your sense of style. Your outfit’s not about sippy cups. It’s about knee-high gladiator Mary Janes with seven bows apiece and bold-as-fuck layered knee socks. Pack what you need into a stylish satchel that can sit worry-free on the floor while you pose with the fam, and let little Lionel’s lederhosen take center stage.

* * *

2. Be all your YOUs at once.


Are you industrial chic or Sesame street? Why choose? Climb up on that scaffolding in your fuzzy monster blankie and boldly proclaim your bothness. Add a sporty bikini top and a glam metal choker featuring your favorite letters of the alphabet, and you’ll dazzle the haters senseless. But by all means, match your crossbody mini-tote to your shiny patent thigh boots. You may be a bundle of contradictions, but you’re nothing if not attentive to the little things; and your bag choice is what ties this whole adventure together.

* * *

3. Make that bag work for you, ladyboss.


Busy womenfolk need accessories that know how to multitask. A sassy satchel should stash your cash and help you catch a cab. Watch and learn, sisters — this is the hitchhiker’s guide to the girl-power galaxy. You’ll never stand around waiting for an Uber again.

* * *

4. Embrace the symbolism in every choice.


Guard your goods, girls. Lock up that beautiful box. Keep your valuable treasures away from the prying hands of strangers. Take the key, hide it in another bag, and safeguard that bag, too. Is this a terrible metaphor for making smart sexual decisions? You bet. That’s why it’s all wrapped up in snow-white fur.

* * *

5. Get whimsical with purse alternatives.


Don’t have time to pack a bag? Don’t worry. Throw your essentials into the pockets of your long fur vest, and leave the rest to the giant wooden bird marionette that follows you everywhere. Can’t find your chapstick or gum? Don’t freak out. That’s the puppetmaster’s problem now. After all, that’s what you’re paying him for.

* * *

6. Catch his or her eye with details, details, details.

Remember, when you're trying to get someone's attention, details are everything. Art deco leather futon? check! Fireplace that actually might be a painting of a fireplace? check! Your grandmother's rug? check! Prop a cheek on the edge of a shiny chair and stretch those pasty gams as far as they'll go. Now as you wait for your paramour to walk past and take notice, place that darling lavender handbag front and center, like,

Remember, when you’re trying to get someone’s attention, details are everything. Tattered leather futon? check! Fireplace that actually might just be a painting of a fireplace? check! Your grandmother’s rug? check! Prop a cheek on the edge of a shiny chair and stretch those pasty gams as far as they’ll go. Now as you wait for your paramour to walk past and take notice, place that darling lavender handbag front and center, like, mmm-yep this little purple pouch IS exactly the right size to hold a pair of Braves tickets or four bites of sushi, why dontchoo come and see?

* * *

7. DON’T: a warning


Left: Don’t use your purse as an excuse to slouch and pull that disrespectful manspread posture on the train. Right: We get it. Your bag is so neutral it blends into the sand. Stop it.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 8.48.39 PM

This is melodrama, Janet. Get up.

* * *

8. Another DON’T: also a warning


And now an important note about personal grooming: At first glance, this broad has it all together, right? Adorable pink cuffs on a fabulous tailored coatdress with a pop of color in an aqua secretary bow. Her business-glam bag would be the perfect finishing touch, if only you weren’t distracted by one thing…

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 9.09.56 PM

Wax your heels, darling. Basic hygiene.

* * *

9. Take what you please from man-style.


Speaking of business, here’s the work-bag done right, times two. Don a ladylike blouse and bermuda set, raid your dad’s sock drawer, and pick a python pump to go with the rich leather of your bag, because guess what, alpha females? Feminism’s back, and it’s all about carrying your grandpa’s briefcase.

* * *

10. Supersize it.

Some ensembles just don't work with a bag, and that's cool. Fishnets and a leather leotard? Yeahno. Don't muck up that elegant simplicity with a bulky pocketbook. Instead, let your furniture bear your burden. Keep a bold leather beanbag chair in every room of every establishment you frequent, and fill it with a mix of down feathers, metal BBs, and ziploc baggies of your essentials: cash, cards, mascara, and mints. You'll have what you need everywhere you go, PLUS you'll never have to stand.

Some ensembles just don’t work with a bag, and that’s cool. Don’t muck up the simplicity of fishnets and an elegant leather leotard with a bulky pocketbook. Instead, let your furniture bear your burden. Keep a beanbag chair in every room, filled with a mix of down feathers, metal BBs, and secret inner pockets with all your essentials: cash, cards, mascara, and mints. You’ll have what you need at arm’s reach, PLUS you’ll never have to stand.

* * *

11. Survive at all costs.


Never underestimate the power of a big bag to save your life. What can you fit in there? Water. Medicine. Sandwiches. Train tickets. A new identity. FREEDOM. Grab your brother, Sulky Hans, and run. RUN, I SAID. THEY’LL NEVER CATCH UP IF YOU LEAVE NOW.

* * *

12. Remember: One is never enough.

Take it from RiRi: One is never enough. Before heading out for a night on the town, grab your favorite clutch. Then grab your second favorite clutch. Make them fight tiny battles on the restaurant table to see who's the best. Tuck one under each armpit. Stick a hand in each and wave them around like flippers. The point is: Double your fun whenever possible.

But back to fun… Before heading out for a night on the town, grab your favorite clutch. Then grab your second favorite clutch. Make them fight little battles with forks on the restaurant table to see who’s the best. Tuck one under each armpit and spin around like a dizzy chicken. Stick one hand in each and wave them around, flipper-style. The point is: Double your fun whenever possible.

In summary:
Life’s a grab bag. Reach in with both hands, girl.

8 Postcards of Generally Positive Gratitude

July 13, 2015 § 28 Comments

Lately, there seems to be a lot of fussing about how some entertainer/artist/creative person didn’t give everybody exactly what they wanted 100% of the time.


There’s a thing where people seem to think, well, if you put yourself (or your work) in the public eye, you should be prepared never to make a mistake or do anything that’s less than pure genius ever again. And that’s a bit much. It’s not really fair, you know?

I’m not saying we don’t all have a right to discuss people’s missteps and examine what we could all learn from them, or that we shouldn’t criticize stuff we don’t like. We do, and we should, and I will — OH YES, MATT DAMON’S PONYTAIL, I WILL — but it sure would be nice if we could also remember that all these things we pick apart are made by real people. It peeves me when I see posts that start, “he should have…” or “why doesn’t she…?” from people with opinions about stuff they’ve NEVER EVEN FUCKING TRIED TO DO THEMSELVES.

So, in that spirit, I present a few postcards that might be used in situations in which someone doesn’t deliver the [album / book / meal / comedy routine / etc.] of our dreams, but in which we can still be human beings about it.


gratitudecards.002 gratitudecards.003 gratitudecards.004 gratitudecards.005 gratitudecards.006 gratitudecards.007

Also, this seems like a good time to remind ourselves: If we don’t end up liking Go Set a Watchman, it’s OK. But it seems like there are a lot of posts popping up saying that Harper Lee has “killed To Kill a Mockingbird” by publishing a book in which some of the characters we were used to are different/worse. (And yeah, the details are kind of fuzzy about how all that happened, aren’t they? But there it is.) Maybe let’s remember that (a) Atticus Finch is not a real person, he’s a made-up character — a character who got written one way and then another — and (b) this “book” we’re holding was a draft. A draft that was initially set aside in favor of a different draft. As the great Anne Lamott told us way back when, drafts are important. Drafts are how we get where we’re going. Ain’t nobody gonna produce perfect drafts every time.

And really, to have access to multiple drafts or versions of someone’s work is a gift for those of us who enjoy studying the creative process. To be able to compare the iterations of a book (or a stand-up act or a painting or a song) is to learn something about how stuff gets made. Maybe we’ll look at it and understand why Lee’s editor told her to put it in a drawer and start over. Or maybe we’ll get to see how Lee stumbled her her way toward the true voices of her characters. Maybe we’ll love it. Maybe not. But hey, she’s written at least one fabulous novel and one maybe-or-maybe-not fabulous one, and in my life I will write a total of zero novels. So:


A Podcast for Dummies

July 1, 2015 § 5 Comments

“You should put a leash on a tiger and walk down the sidewalk naked except for your luxury handbag.”

. . . is the kind of thing I say when there’s a microphone in front of my face.

Like this. . . . but with a tiger. (Photo: Chanel)

Like this. . . . but with a tiger. (Photo: Chanel)

It made sense in context, I swear. See, Stephen Usery of WYPL — a Tennessee-based station that runs a radio show / podcast called Book Talk — was talking with me about Penguins with People Problems, and the conversation just sort of wandered. We ended up talking about books; writing advice; pervy co-workers; overpriced biscuits; and all sorts of other stuff. Then he brought up the subject of fashion ads (which you know I love), and that’s when I started describing an imaginary fashion ad involving tigers and handbags and nudity. It made sense at the time, it really did.

You can listen to the whole thing if you like. Meanwhile, here are two other little snippets:

Stephen said he noticed that, “If there’s kind of a theme that ties all your humor together, it’s that we are ridiculous things.” And in my head I was like, well, shazam — that’s true — I never thought of it that way before. So I said:

“We are totally ridiculous things. We’re all just idiots… But if you can find your own idiocy and sit there with it peacefully and co-exist with it, it’s really very funny.”

Then a little later, he pointed out that there’s also “a slight strain of melancholy” in my humor writing, which — DAMN, STEPHEN. He’s right. So to that, I responded:

“Just like you have to be able to sit with your idiocy and be comfortable with it, you have to be able to sit with your mistakes or sit with your losses or whatever hole you’ve got in yourself and just know that it’s there and sort of . . . be with it. But I also feel like if you can possibly laugh at whatever you can laugh at, and roll with what you can roll with, you can save up your emotional energy for the really big stuff that matters.”

And that’s the reason for silly birds who say bad words. Because we’re all dummies, and laughter is good for you. Deep thoughts.

There's my friend Flat Liam in the studio.

There’s our friend Flat Liam in the studio.

Anyway, there’s about a half hour of that kind of chit-chat on the podcast, and it’s worth a listen if for no other reason than to experience Stephen Usery’s radio voice. (I’m thinking about having him record a voicemail greeting on my phone: “Hello. You’ve reached Darth Vader’s brother, Garth Vader, the famous intergalactic jazz musician. I’m off recording some smooth tracks right now, but if you’d like to send me an email or a text like a normal person, I’d be glad to respond.”)

Listen to the whole thing here. *

(* if you can tolerate some giggling and the times when you can’t hear talking because I’m flapping my hands around in some sort of gesture that I forget radio listeners can’t see, and also the time I say “the American Cancer Society in Nashville” instead of Atlanta)

fabulous prizes!

What you could win: A signed copy of Penguins with People Problems for you and a friend PLUS a matching set of posters commemorating the book launch. (The poster is a signed, limited edition letterpress collector’s print, designed by Sawtooth Print Shop here in Nashville — really cool.)

Meanwhile . . . a giveaway! To enter, all you have to do is share the video below with a friend you think should win, too! You can just reblog this post or share it on whatever social media you use: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. There’s even an Instagram-friendly version. Just remember to TAG A FRIEND when you share and use the hashtag #PENGUINSWITHPEOPLEPROBLEMS. This Friday I’ll do a random drawing and announce a winning pair of friends on Twitter!

Now get out there and walk your tiger.

Throw a Bra at Someone Today

June 10, 2015 § 18 Comments

I think we should all throw bras more often.

Let me explain:

My friend Amanda is a rock star. And I don’t just mean, “My friend Amanda is a badass” — although she is — I mean she’s the lead singer of a band. She wears little gold shorts and sings under hot stage lights and stays up way past my bedtime on a regular basis.

Back when she was talking about starting her band, I said, “Well, you’ll know you’ve made it when fans are throwing their underwear at you onstage.” That was my way of saying, “I believe in you, and I think you will be wildly successful, and I hope you remember that the most important thing is not how much money you make or if you even make money at all or if you play to a sold-out crowd or if you get famous but that you are making such awesome music that people feel the need to express their super-enthusiasm in wild and crazy ways. Because if you’re making yourself and other people that happy, then you are a bonafide rock star.”

SO… when the time came for Amanda’s first big show, I elbowed my way up to the front of the crowd, waited for just the right song (I think it was a cover of Candy by Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson), and — thWHAP! — flung my bra onstage. Without missing a note, Amanda grabbed it and hung it on the mic stand, where it stayed for the rest of the show.

Actual photo from first concert, moments after bra-throwing.

Actual photo from first concert, moments after bra-throwing.

Fast-forward a couple of years:

A few days ago, I went to do a book signing party at an art gallery in Atlanta. It was great. Lots of old friends and new friends and Penguins with People Problems fans. And then, while I was happily scribbling my name on the cover page of someone’s book — thWHAP! — I got hit in the head with a bra.

The very same one.

My friend Amanda had saved that tacky zebra-striped thing (don’t judge me; it’s comfortable and smooth under shirts) and brought it to the gallery. “NOW YOU’RE A ROCK STAR!” she yelled when I pulled it off my face.

I think most of the other people at that event thought something very weird had just happened, but I was delighted. It will always be one of the most meaningful moments in this wacky little book experience.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Brassiere

Sisterhood of the Traveling Brassiere

So I say unto you: Go forth and sling a bra at someone — even if only metaphorically. In fact, metaphorically might be better. It’s probably safer in most situations if you don’t launch your underthings at others, especially if you’re at work. I don’t want to get anyone fired. Can you imagine? “Hey Jim, why’d you get canned?” / “Well, I threw a bra at my boss.” / “Damn, Jim, you brainless acorn. That was a poor decision.” What a disaster. Anyway — here’s a badge you can download and share instead of your actual underwear:

Who deserves one of these today?

Who deserves one of these today?

So how ’bout everybody find somebody who is rocking it right now and toss them some love? Show them that what they’re doing makes you so happy that you’ve turned into a crazy groupie who throws lingerie.

Maybe one day they’ll throw it back at you.

Acknowledgments — Unabridged

June 2, 2015 § 11 Comments

When I wrote Penguins with People Problems, I knew I wanted to write an acknowledgments section at the back of the book, but I felt a little self-conscious about it. Because, come on — this is 112 pages of bird-comics. Wouldn’t it be kind of pretentious to go on and on and ON about how it came into the world? Wouldn’t it sound sort of … “I’d like to thank the Academy?”

So I kept it brief in the book. But here, where I can run on as long as I damn well please, is the longer version. We shall now wallow in gratitude! I would like to say the biggest THANK YOU to:

Everyone at Perigee Books, especially John, who is brilliant and… can I say my publisher is adorable? Because I think he is. Brilliant and adorable. And also Brianna, who is such a powerhouse; and Amanda, whom I’ve applied to adopt — sorry Amanda’s mom, she’s mine now. And Jillian and the Beaks & Geeks badasses and… everyone, really. All the folks at Penguin Random House who work in other imprints and who came up to me last week in New York and hugged me as if I were their own author. And Meg, who found me. MEG!

Penguins taking a meeting in their publisher's office.

Penguins taking a meeting in their publisher’s office.

At BookExpo America and BookCon in New York, the penguins and I got to visit with folks at the Penguin Random House book truck. The original plan was for me to sign books and draw penguins for an hour one day and an hour the next day. The lines grew so long that I ended up drawing and signing for 2.5 hours one day and 2 hours the next. My thumb is kind of sore, but I don't know if I've ever met so many nice people. Thank you to everyone who came!

At BookExpo America and BookCon in New York, the penguins and I got to visit with folks at the Penguin Random House book truck. The original plan was for me to sign books and draw penguins for an hour one day and an hour the next day. The lines grew so long that I ended up drawing and signing for 2.5 hours one day and 2 hours the next. My thumb is kind of sore, but I don’t know if I’ve ever met so many nice people. Thank you to everyone who came!

Kristyn, who is not just my agent but also my very funny friend. (Also, my agent is cuter than everyone else’s agent.)

Oleg, who is a magician.

Rachel F., who is a mythical wizardess made of dynamite and sugar.

Tumblr, which has one helluva new lobby. Now I want to install a cold coffee tap in my kitchen.

In New York last week, Tumblr held a brunch in honor of 10 authors. They threw us the most wonderful party ever and invited a bunch of really fun booknerds, and it was amazing.

In New York last week, Tumblr held a brunch in honor of 10 authors. They threw us the most wonderful party ever and invited a bunch of really fun booknerds, and it was amazing.

One of the most fun things about last week was getting to hang out in person with people I usually interact with by phone and email, like the deliciously wonderful team at Perigee Books.

One of the most fun things about last week was getting to hang out in person with people I usually interact with by phone and email, like the deliciously wonderful team at Perigee Books.

KJ Dell’Antonia, who has allowed me so much space in the fabulous Motherlode column of The New York Times over the last year and a half and who dreamed up the “Penguins with Parent Problems” mini-series. She’s a dream herself. for being so insanely supportive of this site, where my every weird idea starts out.

Every single person at Parnassus Books in Nashville. Especially Sissy who got me there and Niki who fueled my plans with chips and cheese, and Karen and Ann who actually hired me. And Steph and Grace and Nathan and Bill and Miriam and Sarah and Ginger and Cat and Ashton who took care of my house while I was in New York and whom I’m also adopting even though she’s leaving and Tristan who saved my dog and Kathy and Mary Grey and Margy and Pete and Mythili and Lindsay and Yash. Andy’s OK too, I guess. Thank you for letting me work a schedule flexible enough to allow for penguin promotion. Please never fire me.

There's nowhere else I'd want to launch this baby than at Parnassus Books.

There’s nowhere else I’d want to launch this baby than at Parnassus Books.

This is a friend who showed up at Parnassus in full penguin costume. ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW.

This is a friend who showed up at Parnassus in full penguin costume. ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW.

Heidi, who made my cool graphics for book tour.

The most wonderful assortment of friends who are probably super-tired of hearing about penguins but who listen anyway: LJ; Brittany; my beloved Davidson girls; JD, my brotha from anotha motha; the incomparable Loose Women Book Club (special shout to Emmely for being spontaneously thrown into the role of photographer at the launch party); all my awesome buds back in Atlanta; the fellow writers I hang out with virtually and in real life; and those friends whom I’ve connected with online one way or another, all of whom count as real friends even if we’ve never met.

Every person who hit “like” or “share” or “reblog” when they saw a penguin they thought was funny. And every person who emailed me through my site to say the penguin of the day surely HAD to be them or their sister or their friend and how did I KNOW??

#FlatLiam and Fluffy Liam are making sure to get plenty of rest everywhere we go. (I like to leave them tucked in like this to entertain the folks from housekeeping.)

#FlatLiam and Fluffy Liam are making sure to get plenty of rest everywhere we go. (I like to leave them tucked in like this to entertain the folks from housekeeping.)

Mom and Dad!

JP and MG and WC — because although the book is dedicated to Matt Damon, my life is dedicated to you. 

* * *

penguins_square_1 (1)PENGUINS WITH PEOPLE PROBLEMS is officially available wherever you buy books TODAY!

PS: There are some photos from the New York and Nashville launch festivities on Tumblr and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all that jazz.


Musical Milestones: 10 Songs

May 14, 2015 § 19 Comments

Remember when I wrote about that album by Squeeze? It was for my friend Nancy’s project, Midlife Mixtape, all about the music we love as adults. Well, she’s at it again, and this time she’s requesting mixtapes on a theme of “the songs that made me” — significant music from various stages of life. OK, I’m in.

The only rule was a 10-song maximum, so here goes —

1. I’m on Fire by Bruce Springsteen

SPRINGSTEEN_BORN-IN-USA_12x12_site-500x496Look, I’m as surprised as you are. But really, when I thought about my earliest musical memories, this is where my brain landed. Specifically, this was the first tape case (yeah kids, I said tape) in which I discovered the liner notes. Remember those? The little accordion-folded papers tucked into the plastic cases? Having discovered that the lyrics to all the songs were printed right there for me to read, I pored over them while listening to the songs again and again. I vividly remember sitting on my pink carpet in fourth grade, puzzling over this: “Sometimes it’s like someone took a knife baby edgy and dull and cut a six-inch valley through the middle of my soul.” Why would someone do such a thing? Why a dull knife? Why is six inches the right depth for a soul-valley? What the hell, Bruce? I have been obsessed with song lyrics ever since.

* * *

2. Twist and Shout by the Beatles

To this day, this scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off remains one of my favorite scenes in any movie ever. In fact, I wanted to hear this song so badly after seeing the movie that I mustered all the bravado I had in my little 6th grade self and called my radio station to request it. I TALKED TO THE MAN IN THE RADIO, PEOPLE. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but to me, at 11, it was, and I remember that every time I hear it. This is the soundtrack to my getting up the nerve to ask a stranger for what I wanted.

* * *

Then for about a decade, my favorite song was “whatever’s on the radio.” Fast forward to the mid-90s:

* * *

3. This Time of Year by Better Than Ezra

awareIn college, I discovered Aware Records, the label that produced these awesome mix CDs of new artists (we’re up to CDs now, whippersnappers). Many of the bands I saw during my young adulthood were groups I discovered on these things. This song in particular always makes me think starting back to school on campus in August. If I play it on a fall day and close my eyes, I can pretend I’m sitting on a patio drinking cheap beer with the people who are still my best friends many years later. This is a touchstone tune.

* * *

4. Hold My Hand by Hootie and the Blowfish

Speaking of college, here’s a memory for you: It was 1994. A little band from South Carolina called Hootie was playing in the gym. We’d heard they were going to be on David Letterman the very next night. Somewhere up front near the speakers, some crazed fan was waving his Solo cup in the air and hollering, “HOLD MY HAAAAAND” again and again and again. “Who is that fool?” I wondered. Ladies and gentlemen, that fool is now the father of my children.

* * *

5. Colorshow by the Avett Brothers

When Americana started gaining more mainstream popularity a few years back, a friend of mine introduced me to the Avett Brothers, and I drank up those albums like water. They’ve never put on a show that hasn’t been a blast. The Avetts were one of the very first bands I was able to enjoy along with my children, who loved this music even when they were very little. I gave my son a philosophical lecture about elementary school once with these song lyrics: Be loud. Let your colors show.

* * *

6. Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons

True story: I was bowling with a bunch of friends one night several years ago, and in the lane next to us was this group of English dudes who looked vaguely familiar. I went up to the bar and asked, “Do you know who those guys are?” and the bartender said, “They’re in some band that’s playing in a little theater around the corner tomorrow. Mumford and Company?” and I was like, “MUMFORD AND SONS? I’M GOING TO THAT SHOW,” and he was like, “I guess” and I went back to my friends like, “YOU GUYS THAT IS MUMFORD AND SONS,” and they were like, “What?” because this was about a month before any radio stations were playing them here, and somehow I was the only fan in our whole group. I was very dissatisfied that no one shared my excitement. Anyway, I went over to the band, and I said, “um hi hello are you mumford and sons i love your music so much i really just love it and do you like bowling ok great i’m coming to your show tomorrow at that little theater and i really hope you guys get like really successful and famous and stuff ok bye sorry bye” And they did. Probably because of that pep talk. So this one actually changed their lives more than mine. You’re welcome, guys.

* * *

brandi7. The Story by Brandi Carlile

We’ve talked about Brandi before. A bunch.

* * *

8. You Are My Sunshine by The Civil Wars

Well, the Civil Wars are no more, but they left us some good music. I always liked this version of Sunshine. Also, I sing this to my daughter every night before she goes to sleep; so even though it’s a really dark song (I mean, really dark — listen to it), it makes me happy. (When skies are gray.)

* * *

IMG_06269. Follow Your Arrow by Kacey Musgraves

Here’s a great song about going with your gut. I listened to it a lot when I switched to a new city / new job / etc. last year. Also, it’s just a delightful song. If you don’t like it, I can’t explain what’s wrong with you.

* * *

10. Blow It Out by The Features

I keep thinking I’ll reach a point where I’ve played this too many times and it gets old, but that time has not yet come. We play it a lot in our kitchen these days, and it’s by a great little Nashville band, and it just very much feels like a theme song right now.

* * *

So, there are my 10. Thanks for asking, Nancy. If you want to see the other mixtapes her friends have drummed up on this theme, you can catch them here:

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog
Butterfly Confessions
Good Day, Regular People
The Flying Chalupa
Elizabeth McGuire
Elleroy Was Here
Midlife Mixtape
Up Popped a Fox
When Did I Get Like This?

What are your musical milestones?

penguins_square_1 (1)

Obligatory book plug:
17 more days until Penguins with People Problems comes out! I’d be really glad to see you when the penguins and I hit the road to sign books. You can PRE-ORDER IT right now wherever you normally buy books (Amazon, B&N, etc.), or — if you like to support indies (yeah!) and want an autographed one — from the bookstore where I work.

Work It, Girl: Professional Dressing for the Modern Ladyperson

May 11, 2015 § 22 Comments

Sometimes being a girl is complicated.

If you’re a dude, your outfit choices pretty much come down to “which pants?” and “that shirt.” But for ladies, there’s a wiiiiiide range of options out there, which means there are a LOT of ways to go wrong, especially when you’re talking about what to wear to work, in an interview, or for a big presentation. How to do it right? I flipped through the ads in this spring’s fashion magazines to find out. Here’s what I learned.

1. Follow the 25% Rule


If you want to land your bizness plane squarely on the runway of success, you have to learn to show precisely the correct amount of skin. That amount is 25% of one breast — no more, no less.


Nailed it. The lima bean bracelet is a luxe touch, too.


Bingo. As you can see, this ensemble is meant for casual Fridays. Replicate the look yourself by pulling out your mom’s jeans and gift wrapping them with your dad’s belt.


BAM. Professional perfection. Optimal boobage and a classic pump, too.

2. Practice Restraint


Minimalism always wins when dressing for work. Don’t wear all your favorite clothes at once. In fact, as Coco Chanel once said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” This is a Chanel ad, so as you can see, Coco meant pants.


Or maybe she meant, “clothes.” If you decide to go full-frontal, keep it classy. DO opt for a multi-strand necklace and a practical messenger bag. DON’T sweat the haters.

3. Try Subversive Hair


This isn’t the 1960s. Think more Joan Jett, less Joan Holloway. If you’re going to rock the buttoned-up look, great — but draw the line when it comes to a sculpted hair helmet. Instead, chew off the ends of your hair to create a little contrast and suggest that maybe, just maybe, you’re a paralegal and a bounty hunter.


See? Proper outfit + broom head = balance. Tuck your prim blouse into a mid-length skirt, then whip an electric egg beater through your bun for 20 seconds to rough things up.

4. Accessorize with Care


On weekends, feel free to go overboard with baubles; but your Monday-Friday gig is another story. Pick ONE favorite accessory and use it as your theme. Seen here: starfish.


You can also do a single starfish as a brooch. See how pulled together she looks while she’s listening in on that conference call? I don’t care if you’re just an assistant now. Always dress like you’re the CFO — Chief Fabulousness Officer.


Have an accessory that looks a bit like a face? Awesome. Let your colleagues feel your quirky jive when you walk into your presentation and yell PEEKEEBOO! It’s a fun way to break the ice, and it loosens everyone up for the Q&A section later.

5. Travel Smart


Remember, you represent your employer no matter where you go. At a restaurant for dinner? DON’T get all sloppy and make a pterodactyl out of your napkin. DO project an image of power and composure at all times. Show here: take advantage of the time it takes to fuel up the rental car, and practice your rope skills. That’s right, everybody — this lady’s whipping her company into shape.

6. Dazzle Every NO into a YES


Let’s say you know you’re about to get fired. Maybe you woofed a big project or something. You’re toast, right? WRONG. Now’s the time to pull out your secret fashion weapon: distraction. Pile on every color and pattern you’ve got, walk into the office, and voilà — your boss will be too overcome by sensory input to remember why your head was on the chopping block. Now don’t blow that second chance, girl.

7. Think Whole, Not Parts


If there’s one rule that will get you through every professional situation, it’s that everything needs to work together as an ensemble. Individually, you might not think a trench, a woven bag, and a bra-less woolen vintage bathing suit would work, right? But all together, ta-da! This meeting is called to order.

In short: Run a fork through your hair, undo one more button, and get ready for your turn at the top, baby. You’re going places.

* * *

Speaking of going places… do you like to go to parties? I’ll be rocking my best quasi-professional look for the Penguins with People Problems book tour this summer, and I’d love to see you along the way. Dates and places will be updated online as plans are made!

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(On a penguin note: Have you seen the New York Times exclusive mini-series? It’s called “Penguins with Parent Problems,” and a total of six episodes will be running at random intervals through the beginning of June!)

(PS: One last thing… If you’re on Facebook, you may have been following the I Miss You When I Blink page and/or my official author page. I’m switching over to using just the author page, because two pages is too damn many pages. That’s good news because it means you won’t see double posts in your newsfeed. So, make sure you’re following that one? Thanks!)


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