Musings + Essays

Molisano Midnight.

By: Jen Shoop

I sometimes wonder at how much of what I experience is inborn and unmitigated, and how much is metered by the observed predilections of the people I love. Is that what it means to be human, our idiosyncrasies jangling against our inheritances? Do some of us hang truer to ourselves and others look out on the world from the covert of our parents’ tastes and interests? For my part, no small measure of the happinesses I find in life entails the anticipation of the pleased reactions of my parents. Provincial and immature as that may sound, my stake in their joy does not necessarily represent inferior footing. There is something profound in imagining my own wonderment at the stars seen from the backyard of the home we rented in Quogue earlier this year — unobscured by the smog of this-city-that-still-moves — bearing a direct and invisible line to that of my father, and his father, and his father, who might have looked upon the same net of stars from Frosolone, Italy one night one hundred and fifty years ago with the same posture of quiet veneration that I saw on my father’s face when we would hike up to Weller Lake or Grizzly Reservoir outside of Aspen, Colorado and pitch a tent all of those summers of my youth. Did I intuitively know to awe at this majesty or was it my father’s reverent silence, standing with his hands on his hips, looking up, the mirror of the lake reflecting the incandescence of the celestial in his face?

I am now too a parent, hyper-aware of the fact that little rabbits have big ears. An errant dismissal or a vigorous enthusiasm shapes the outlook of my vigilant children. When my daughter opens a gift, I hear an echo of my own voice and intonation: “oh my gooodnessss!” The same drop in emphasis on the “my,” the same drag on the “neeesss.” It is a carbon copy of my own girlish glee at opening gifts — my own self living in her — and I know that I must have pre-dispositioned her in this way. It is strange to think of the share of her that is mine and the share of her that is her own: the small but mighty soul born intact three and a half years ago that morning in Chicago that felt more spacewalk than earthbound, my emotions surging beyond their holsters, the entire day uncircumscribed, outside, too much, as though the force of her landing there in my arms had displaced everything.

So maybe there is give and take between the generations. Maybe I afford her my glee in small gifts and pumpkin-shaped waffles and bats on the windows for Halloween and the harbinger-like appearance of a cardinal on a branch of a tree in Central Park just off the Jackie O. Reservoir — and maybe she extends back the generosity of her little voice calling down the corridor as she skitters out the door for school: “goodbye mama, goodbye Hill, goodbye Tilly, goodbye apartment,” as though our home is a member of our family, a living space to be acknowledged and celebrated, which, of course, upon reflection, it is. Will I ever think of this apartment without remembering the 21 days I spent isolated in it during this unbearable pandemic? How it saved us, became our cocoon? How it felt to walk back and forth in my son’s tiny nursery when he was still small enough to be rocked to sleep in those final days of caring for a newborn? How I know that when I am old and gray I will still remember him burrowing into my arms, happy and warm, as I rested my back against the slats of his crib at the ungodly hour of three or four in the morning?

This exchange, then, is the stuff of family, the warming of hands around the same fires that comforted generations past, and the refraction of light back. I have always wondered about what is either diffused or passed on from one generation to the next, but it seems that the flow is not one-directional after all. I find reverberations of my daughter in the way I now ferret out families in the most animate of objects — say, a cluster of acorns, with two small and two large. “That’s mama, dada, Hill, and Emory,” she’d say, and so she has returned to me something from my youth: the symmetry of life, the reduction of all things into what is legible through the prism of her parochial world. And maybe me standing under the canopy of stars in Quogue earlier this summer and finding myself immediately transported to the edge of Weller Lake, the sky similarly uncottoned from the city smog to which I had grown accustomed as a child, was not only a mirror of my father’s awe and my imitation of it at the impressionable age of seven, but a shadow of the way my great-grandfather might have leaned back, his hands on his hips, on some midnight Molisano excursion, the Apennines not so far from the Rockies after all.


+Those summers in Colorado were highly-instructive — I learned a lot about faith, and right and wrong, and how to write there.

+More memories of my generations past.

+I feel like Vans are not my usual aesthetic, but I had to buy micro these adorable fire engine red sneakers and I am dying over these glittery hi-tops for mini.

+Related: a few of you asked after the sneakers mini was wearing in a few Instastory photos from our trip to Fishkill Farms to go apple picking last weekend — they are these Vejas! I had to indulge my downtown girl with some cool kicks for school.

+Currently lusting after one of these Emerson Fry blouses — sort of like the fall equivalent of the blockprint dresses we all wore all summer.

+Minnow just released a knitwear collection — love this sweet crewneck sweater in the perfect shade of blue.

+Speaking of the perfect blue, eyeing this “blanket scarf” in the chic blue colorway — would look great against camel, gray, or ivory.

+Fun fall dress.

+A great everyday turtleneck dress to pair with flats or chic boots.

+Dreaming of a pair of these cozy ribbed leggings.

+Who has tried these Dudley Stevens fleece turtlenecks? I feel like I’ve seen so many ads for them but don’t know anyone who has worn them IRL.

+This puffer is crazy chic. This puffer style is also super fun (and like 1/10th the price).

+And I love this puffer for expecting mamas! More chic maternity finds here.

+An aubade to parenting.

+This Target find! Such a chic piece — the shape and pulls resemble something from Bungalow5.

+A really good pearl-embellished cardigan for $60.

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24 thoughts on “Molisano Midnight.

  1. I have two Cobble Hills – navy terry and chilli red vello. I prefer the terry. I’m wear mine most often with leggings, tennis shoes, and a baseball cap while I’m running errands on Saturdays. However, I recently ordered a Pacific Vest to use as an extra layer in my very chilly office this winter.

  2. I’m catching up on your posts over some well-deserved evening tea, and I just have to say I loved this. Your writing is amazing here, and I love the reflection. I often think of my grandparents and what life may have been like for them, but I rarely think of my more distant ancestors.

    I’ve really enjoyed your posts as of late (not that I hadn’t before but especially so lately), and your responses are so thoughtful. I also need to commend the community for some really great ideas (MK’s holiday shopping list, and all the moving tips!). You have a wonderful community who reflect your intelligence and grace. Bravo.

    Now for that post about religion v. spiritually…;) Going to need to pray some more if I dare attempt to share my thoughts!

    1. April! You totally made my weekend with this kind and unexpected note. I agree that this community is incredible. I routinely learn so much from you all, including in the fascinating comments on this morning’s post about wellness/self-care. So many different takes/ideas/definitions.

      And thank you also for the praise here — I am particularly tender-hearted about this post because I woke up the other morning at five a.m. and I swear that half of it had already written itself. I had to scramble for my iPhone to get it all down on paper, but the image of my Dad looking out across Weller Lake and the vision of me standing in Quogue and then this sort of hazy concept of a great-great grand-father was so powerful it just knocked me out! I had to write about it, it was almost compulsory. That doesn’t happen too often, and the entire episode startled me (in a good way). Anyway, so cherish the kind words on this almost dream-like writing experience.

      The religion v spirituality question is a tough one to crack. I welcome (and await) your thoughts!!


  3. Love love love my Dudley Stephens! I prefer the longer longer length (I think Cobble Hill?) and I have had no issues with washing/drying/pilling. I find the cut to be so flattering and so cozy and love the pockets. Highly recommend xoxo

    1. Thanks, Katie!! So many different opinions on these; glad they have worked for you! I like the look!! xx

  4. I will weigh in on Dudley Stephens – I own two Park Slope turtlenecks. The vello fleece in navy and the Terry fleece in blush – both XS. The Terry fleece is a little lighter and I find it to be more comfortable. As others have stated, I do feel more put together with an Everlane cashmere sweater, but love the DS fleece for those really cold Colorado mornings. And for some reason, the blush feels a tad dressier than my navy fleece.

    1. Hi Erica – Thank you for this! I totally get what you mean about certain colors making you feel more dressed up than others. xx

  5. Idk why but I’m not a huge fan of fleece clothes- a fluffy pullover but not a turtleneck or more structured top. I have not tried Dudley Stephens though so maybe they would change my mind, however, seems expensive for what it is.

    I really like the various oversized Free People sweaters, the Ottoman and Softly Structured tunics are my winter and fall go-tos. Similar price point but a little more substantial for the money.

    1. I hear you! Fleece for sure has a more dressed-down quality to it. I am intrigued by DS trying to bridge the gap. Anyway, love those FP sweaters!!


  6. I too was “influenced” to buy Dudley Stevens last year when I was newly post-partum and it just didn’t work for me, though I made two wrong moves: I went with the Cobble Hill when the Park Slope probably would have been a better fit for my 5’4″, boxy frame. Then, I listened to the many, many reviews saying size up and got a Large, and should have stuck with the Medium because the Cobble Hill was meant to be fitted. I was just thinking yesterday I should try to sell mine on Poshmark or Facebook!

    1. Thanks, Gina, for the input! It sounds like a lot of us have been on the fence about this style — thanks for sharing specifics on sizing/styles. xx

  7. I have one Dudley Stephens and do not like it much. I have washed and dried it per their instructions and found it to pill too easily – not worth it for me. I also don’t appreciate how much the brand works with influencers who I have personally seen reselling their gifted DS items or worn them once in a sponsored Instagram story and never again. Just not for me, though I do love their take on elevated fleece!

  8. Love my DS! I agree with M and prefer the park slope which looks more “put together” with jeans (especially in a tan color with leopard loafers). The cobble hill is good for lounging at home in my opinion. I have to XS in cobble hill and small in park slope (just in case anyone is interested in knowing about sizing).

    1. Thanks, Amy! I was honestly blown away by how many comments came in about these DS tops! Sounds like a lot of us are intrigued! xx

  9. I adore this reflection — I have found myself thinking about inheritances and ancestors a lot lately (likely due to working through Layla F. Saad’s Me and White Supremacy, which encourages the reader to “become a good ancestor”). I love the thought that looking up at the stars — particularly in a spot with less light pollution — would connect us to ancestors from the past. <3

    Adore, adore that Ganni leopard puff-sleeve dress! Can't believe the & Other Stories scarf is 100% wool … adding that to my wishlist. Also, I have good things to say about LETT — I have a pair of bike shorts and a lettuce-edge tee from them and love both pieces!


  10. Hi there! Re: Dudleys and yesterday’s query about outfits for moms of littles, I have several Dudleys, and while they are great for some purposes (ex. sick child days), I find I feel less put together while wearing them, even with jeans. Perhaps I overdid it in the past several fall-winter seasons, but my Dudleys, especially the lighter weight fabric, show their wear with pilling, etc. The Cobble Hill definitely works with a bump and postpartum, but now that I’m eight months postpartum with my third, I feel much more composed wearing a skinny jean and cotton or cashmere sweater. (I’m sure this is more detail than you were looking for!)

    1. Not too much detail — thanks for sharing this, and also the issue with pilling, which another reader noted as well. The consensus seems to be that people like these for casual days, but sizing correctly takes some research and there’s a big caveat around pilling.


  11. Obsessed with my Dudleys. I am wearing one right now! Definitely my winter mom uniform with jeans or leggings.

  12. LOVE my Dudley Stephens! I have two and get so much wear out of them from Sept-March. I have the Park Slope and the longer Cobble Hill and prefer the Park Slope, although the Cobble Hill is great with leggings and can even work with a small bump. They are my weekday mom uniform with jeans and sneaks!

    1. Thanks for weighing in! Lots of input on these. I like the idea of something besides a sweater for more casual days! xx

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