What I'm Reading

Stardust by Joseph Kanon
Coming out in the fall, the next novel by the author of The Good German. It's so good I kinda want to lick the pages.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I've got a problem. A personal problem. An underwear problem.

See, my approach to underclothes can be best summed up as "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This is going to sound way more like Polly Poppins than what you would expect from me, but I channel her every once in a while.

With few exceptions, I own one style of bra, one style of underwear, and 2 styles of socks. Period. My bras are all the same style, except in different colors and patterns. Some have lace. Ditto for the underwear.

(For the record, those aren't my boobs. That's an underwear model who happens to be wearing my most recent bra purchase.)

My work socks are all from the same store. They each have a little picture embroidered on the ankle. Do I want leopard-print purses today? High-heeled shoes? No one else can see the embroidery, but they make me happy. My gym socks are from the same store. (Oh, and p.s. The store is in Connecticut. Nowhere near where I live.) They're white, with different embroidered patterns. (Flip flops? Beach chairs?)

When the underwire pops on a bra or the socks get a hole, I throw them out, go back to the same store, and buy more. They're always comfortable, they're always what I want. No muss, no fuss, no thinking about it. I like it that way.

But lately I've had what could only adequately be described as an underwear meltdown. See, the store where I buy them stopped making my style. So I stopped getting new ones. I've had the same undies for years. I don't put them in the dryer, so they've held up. Until now. I noticed a few weeks ago that a pair had a hole. So I threw them out. Then I threw out another pair the week before last. And two more last week. It seems if you buy your underwear all at the same time, they wear out all at the same time. Crap.

Now, I know it sounds easy. Just find a new brand. But see, that's not as simple as it sounds:
First of all, I'm plus-sized. Clothes shopping in general is never easy for me. Think of all the stores where you normally shop. Now imagine that out of all those places, only one carries your size. Maybe two if you're lucky. And those places, well, their selection can be dismal. I'm under 60, so that rules out about 75% of everything that comes in my size.
Second, they must be cotton. I am unwilling to negotiate on this point.
Third, and I know this is a shocker, I'm a little particular about my underwear. They should not come up to my bra. I cannot emphasize that point enough. (See earlier "I'm under 60" comment). I should not feel like I'm wearing my bathing suit under my clothes. Panty lines are not sexy. I cannot feel pretty in underwear I can imagine my mother wearing. If there's anyone from the lingerie world reading this, here is what I want you to take away from this blog: "Chubby girls need thongs too."

So I went shopping yesterday, and I found one store that had what I was looking for--the elusive plus-sized, 100% cotton thong. They had just gotten them in, so I bought everything they had in my size. (I really hate doing laundry.) If they fit well, I'll go back and buy more. But I'm seriously concerned I might be heading for a Rain Man-esque "Definitely not my underwear" freakout until I get used to them. I hate when that happens....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shoe Slut

These shoes were part of my "new job" purchases when I started this job. Not because I needed new shoes for work, but because my default reaction to any situation in which I get a new job or a promotion is "buy shoes." Of course that's also my reaction to happy news, sad news, a bonus, and my tax return. But that's another story.

Now, I know what you're wondering. "How many pairs of pink shoes can one girl own?" and "Are those even comfortable?" And the answer is more pairs than I'm comfortable admitting to publicly. And no, not even a little bit. They hurt like a bitch, almost to the point of tears. I can only wear them to work, and even then sometimes not the whole day. But as long as I don't limp, I sure do look cute.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I'm warning you all up front. I'm writing this blog from my soapbox.

I went to mass Sunday morning (sadly, yes, my attendance is sporadic enough that it's worth mention). There's a point in the mass where the congregation present their petitions to God. The lector reads aloud a list of specific causes or requests, and after each one everyone responds with "Lord, hear our prayer." One of the petitions they've been doing every Sunday for, sadly, years now is a special prayer for the servicewomen and men of our parish who are fighting in Iraq.

I've talked about my neighborhood here before. It's in the midst of being gentrified, but Jackson Heights is primarily a working-class to lower-middle-class neighborhood, mostly families, largely immigrants. And my church has eleven soldiers in Iraq right now. ELEVEN. The first time I heard the list, I thought "It's lovely that they do that." And then the list just went on and on.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that there's not one church in any wealthy suburb in America that has eleven kids fighting in Iraq. That when our politicians go back to their posh homes in their tony neighborhoods, their neighbors are not the ones getting shipped off and shot at.

The idea that we're fighting a war that's seemingly without end, that we entered under false pretenses, makes me sick. The fact that men and women are dying every day makes me sick. The fact that there's such a complete disconnect between the people calling the shots and those paying the consequences makes me sick.

One of my cousins spent some time in Iraq, and while he was one of the soldiers who was lucky enough to come home, he'll never be the same again. We're hoping that some day he'll be okay. And even that feels like a stretch right now. We've never been close, but I wrote to him while he was over there. And the letters he wrote back were haunting and horrific. I support our troops completely. But I support bringing them home. This mess is our burden, our resposibility, and our shame. And I'm ashamed.

Friday, March 7, 2008

You Say It's Your Birthday

Yes, it's true. I turned 33 last weekend. Polly keeps telling me that it officially makes me a grown-up hobbit. But I like to refer to it as my "Jesus year." (For those of you not versed in Christian history, the Bible says Jesus was 33 when he was crucified.) I can never come close when it comes to influence or importance. But I am hoping my year ends better than his did. Execution for a crime I didn't commit is so not on my to-do list.

That said, I had a fabulous birthday. I stopped at the bookstore on my way home from work on Friday and bought myself some purely indulgent, mindless reads. And then I spent most of the weekend reading like it was my job. I made it through two and a half books by the time I went back to work on Monday. One of them was poking out of my bag on Saturday (Bookgirl fashion rule #22: when taking the subway by yourself on your way to a night out, always carry the sequined purse that's big enough to hold a paperback) and my friend Mary asked me, "Is that one of your trashy romance novels?" My response? "Even better. Vampire romance."

I was showered with attention all day: phone calls and singing and emails and texts and one very special "Happy Birfday" message from the girl. A small group of my closest friends took me out to dinner for my birthday, and I was reminded all over again of why they're my best friends. One of the boys nonchalantly text messaged me from the other side of the table during dinner. The message said "You look adorable." I'm pretty positive there were hearts coming out of my eyes like Pepe le Peu in those old cartoons. I swear I'd fight his boyfriend for him if I thought I could win.

And let's not forget the Venti skim toffee nut latte from Starbucks. Oh, the latte. See, every year for Lent I give up the same thing--chocolate. It's the hardest thing I can give up and still stick to. (One year I gave up potatoes AND pasta, and chocolate was still tougher.) But since I've been giving up chocolate since junior high, I started giving something else up along with it. This year it was lattes. I couldn't give up coffee entirely, because that just wasn't fair to the people who have to be around me every day. (To my coworkers, you're welcome.) For me, lattes are the good stuff. Coffee is just utilitarian.

After Lent began, a Starbucks opened up in my neighborhood. Two blocks from my apartment. I've lived in this neighborhood for 10 years. That's a full decade of serving hard time, waiting for Jackson Heights to finally get a Starbucks. And once we finally did, I couldn't go. Heartbreaking. But I have one caveat to my Lenten sacrifices, and it's this: they don't count on my birthday. No, Jesus did not come out of the desert for my birthday, but without this rule I would have never in my entire life had a birthday cake worth eating. And I just don't believe a just God would want that to happen in his name. So I got the biggest latte they sell at Starbucks, a medium-sized bag of Cadbury mini eggs, and went. to. town.

The night before my birthday I was a little sad (also a little tipsy, thus the sad), thinking that I was starting a new year with all the same issues I always swear I'm going to change about myself. I'm still broke, still overweight, still not entirely sure what's next for me. But when I woke up the next morning, that was all gone. I was just utterly grateful. Maybe I'll never be rich or thin or have it all together, but I'm loved. Utterly, completely loved. And what else do I really need?

p.s. For those of you thinking, "I thought Bookgirl was going to blog more often now that she has the new laptop??" all I can say is, so did I. But every night this week, I would put on the laptop and the television, intending to write while I was cleaning out the DVR. And it turns out that while I'm an ace multitasker, and there are a zillion things I can do while watching television, being creative and witty is NOT one of them. Lesson learned.