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FILM: When my sister-in-law was in town, she raved about a podcast she’d been listening to called “You Must Remember This,” which explores “the secret and forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” The episodes are narrated by a whip-smart film critic/expert who — once you accept her smug-sounding (?) articulation — does a spectacular job of placing films within their cultural moment, drawing from interviews with cast members and directors, articles written about the films and their themes in major publications, and complex histories of Hollywood, its studios, its economics, etc. My sister-in-law was specifically raving about the episodes on “the erotic 80s and 90s” that examine gender politics in the spate of erotic thriller films (a genre that more or less no longer exists — she goes into why) during the last two decades of the 20th century. Anyhow, Mr. Magpie and I have been re-watching some of those movies, some of which feel camp, others straight-up bad, and all interesting to dissect as cultural relics. We’ve watched Disclosure, Body Heat, Basic Instinct, and a few others, and they are fascinating to take in while listening to the podcast, which makes well-observed points about the way these movies reflect social anxieties about changing gender roles.
FOOD + DRINK: The best thing I ate this week was a banh mi (Vietnamese grilled pork sandwich) from Pho Nom Nom in Rockville. These are heavy in our lunch rotation, as Pho Nom Nom delivers, and I am addicted. I love the pile of vinegary toppings and fresh herbs against the marinated pork. We also mixed up a few batches of Mai Tais (our recipe here), which have been my favorite cocktail this summer. I like to drink them out of these.
FITNESS: I’ve been steady in my running commitment the past few weeks, and I need new running shoes! I know Magpie reader Cynthia will scold me for not yet buying the Saucony pair so many runners love, but I’m going to get fitted at a local running shop. Historically, I’ve had really great luck with Nikes (especially their Infinity Runs — I think I’ve bought three or four pairs in a row, as I usually replace my running shoes every six to twelve months) and most other brands have changed my gait in unpleasant ways. But I’d like to see what they recommend after watching my gait. I know a lot of my runner friends are longtime fans of these Brooks. If you’re a newer runner, I would suggest looking into one of those three pairs, because they are consistently recommended! Stay tuned…also going to buy myself a new pair of running headphones. My current ones, after a long run of maybe ten years (!), is starting to sound weird — tinny and muffled. So many of you recommended these. Also, random aside: a white half-zip I bought at Target six months ago (now sold out) is my most-worn sweatshirt — and I have a lot of sweatshirts. Addison Bay has a higher-end, higher-quality style that I think I will add to my collection given how much mileage I’ve gotten out of the Target!
WORKING ON: I have been overscheduling my days. Sometimes this can’t be avoided, but I need to return to my practice of “rounding up” when it comes to estimating how much time a task or errand will take, and saying “no” to things that are not a top priority at the moment. I hate the feeling of breathlessly sprinting from one checklist item to the next, and anxiously ticking through the logistics of the day while getting ready in the morning. I did too much of that this week! I listened to a lot of podcasts/audiobooks this week and I think this also had the unexpected consequence of making my days feel more cluttered. I often walk the dog, shower, pack lunches, and drive the car in silence (or with music on) but this week, I was listening to stimulating content where I normally lean into quiet. I was reminded that we need time to let our minds wander and rest, too. Struggling for a balance — any tips?
THINKING ABOUT: Gwyneth Paltrow had a fascinating musing in her latest newsletter in which she was talking about “the broader culture around women having discipline—how we are often taught to be obedient, that to be in control and to be disciplined is to be good.” She asks: “But what am I a disciple of?…What is the archetype that’s sitting over me that’s driving me? Why do I feel like I need to be so disciplined, and for whom am I being disciplined?” This hit a deep nerve. One of my girlfriends and I have been unpacking this concept over the past few weeks. We take a walk every Wednesday and this is a common theme, as we both consider ourselves highly disciplined people. One thing I asked a few weeks ago was whether there are any spaces in our lives where we can drop the ball, relax, let things be, find a sense of flow and ease. Does everything have to be over-thought and optimized? A few concrete examples: I run every other morning for at least three miles; I avoid caffeine after noon; I aim to be in bed by 10 p.m.; I strive for one screen at a time; I am working to have an entirely clean skincare and makeup regimen; I try to keep my phone out of arm’s reach in the evenings; I avoid snacks between meals; the list goes on and on. On the one hand, these “rules” help me find alignment with my broader goals and values, especially around wellness. On the other hand, the thought of living my life in an overly controlled, disciplined way runs at odds with my desire to live life rather than visit it. It also reminds me of the opening scene of “The Devil Wears Prada,” where that one woman measures out an exact portion of almonds in a small dish for breakfast. That scene read like a cautionary tale from its first viewing. I remember thinking, “And…for what? You live a few years subsisting on the bare minimum…and why? That’s not living! I don’t want to be that woman!” And yet, in so many ways, I am that woman. Careful, disciplined, rule-following. How do we reconcile the desire to be intentional with our limited time with the hope to live life to its fullest?
FASHION: I’ve been (as you can tell) in a fall state of mind, and now own nearly everything in this post (!) One item I am contemplating with increasing seriousness is a new everyday handbag investment for the fall/winter months. I’ve been eyeing the Celine Sangle in the fabulous deep green (“Amazone”) color forever — and note that Everlane has a great bag in a similar shape for much less. A few others I love: this Tod’s, this Metier, and this Khaite. I think I’d want a bigger tote to truly be an everyday buy, but on the smaller size end, I love this Savette, this Mark Cross, and this Toteme. On the more affordable end of the spectrum, I still love all the leather bags from Longchamp right now — especially this bucket style — and J. Crew has a gorgeous suede option that I saw Nan Philip wearing that turned my head.
PLANNING AHEAD: Currently getting all my ducks in a row for the school year ahead (a lot of great back to school finds here), and ordered uniform shoes for my daughter (<<the best; hold up well and easy to put on/off) and sneakers for my son (pre-schoolers can wear athletic shoes with uniform). Also planning a trip to Napa in the fall with Mr. Magpie and in the process of selecting a hotel (thank you to all the Magpies who weighed in when I asked for recs on Insta). I’m looking at a few of the Auberge properties that were commended, Indian Springs (a Magpie fan favorite — the most upvoted place to stay), and Meadowwood.
P.S. “Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.” (How do we gloss ‘wholesome’?)
P.P.P.S. Some of the most beautiful words to hear: “Stay a little longer.”