In all seriousness, you guys have no idea how I struggle and obsess and comb through my thesaurus like some sad teenage poet searching for new synonyms for "despondent" to stick in the titles for these Lesley's Lists. To clarify, I'm not always looking for synonyms for "despondent," that's what the sad teenage poet would be looking for. I'm usually looking for synonyms for "NEAT STUFF I LIKE." Anyway, thank the maker the world is coming to an end so I don't have to do it this week.
Dr. Martens X Liberty of London
So, if everything is coming to a spectacular demise, I figure we may as well go out wearing really impractically patterned shoes.
Earlier this year Dr. Martens launched a collaboration with Liberty of London, and I successfully spent a few months going LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOOOU because the last thing -- seriously, the very last thing -- I need in the world is more shoes. My shoes are legion. If this shortly-to-be-destroyed planet could be saved by lots of shoes, I would be Bruce Willis in the movie of how that planet-saving happened.
But then I broke down and bought a pair. Because where I’m concerned, a William Morris print plus Dr. Martens is like building a Minecraft world out of Legos -- it’s combining two of MY VERY FAVORITE THINGS into one thing that is incredibly, mind-explodingly great. I bought these beautiful boots and then thought, um, I can’t wear these, because what if harm comes to them out in the big cruel world? How could I expose them to that? To solve the problem I also bought the shoes in the same print but different colors. I AM REALLY SMART.
I realize that a normal person might think, gosh, what on earth would you wear those with? Luckily I am not bound by conventional thinking about wearing things that “match” or even look sort of appropriate together. So I’m wearing them with everything, and if I miss the apocalypse it will probably be because I was too busy staring at my shoes.
The World’s Best Matte Black Nail Polish
I have a long fixation with matte nail polish. I hate it. Well no. I don’t hate it, I love the way it looks, but I hate the way it wears; I mean legitimately I can give myself a matte manicure and within an HOUR some part of it will have worn or chipped away. Being one of those people who melts down at the tiniest imperfection in my nail polish, I have to take it off IMMEDIATELY otherwise -- I don’t know what will happen, but probably something bad?
Matte black polish has long been my white whale; black polish in general is rough for me as the smallest nick shows up like mad, so when you add matteness to the equation things rapidly become untenable. Oh sure, Essie makes a matte top coat but it’s never quite the same, and it tends to wear to a shine eventually.
So when I stumbled across a new breed of matte polish at Ulta earlier this week, I was dubious as to its claims that it “STAYS MATTE!” as promised by the little display stand, and that it won’t wear off if the wind blows on it too hard. But I’m a sucker and I’m always down for trying new things, so when I saw they had black -- BLACK LIKE THE VOID THAT WILL SWALLOW US ALL IN THE END OF TIMES, OF COURSE -- I bought a bottle anyway.
IT IS A MIRACLE. Apparently Layla -- an Italian company, and their English-language website is unintentionally hilarious, by the way -- figured out that the problem with your average matte polish is that it’s made with powder, and frankly powder is not the toughest material in the world. So they formulated their Softouch Effect matte polishes with wax, which makes them about as chip-likely as your average high-end polish.
Naturally, I was all WOW I HAVE TO TELL EVERYONE but this polish is kind of tough to find in stock online -- I located it on Amazon but its scarcity elsewhere makes me concerned that it may be discontinued. Which is ridiculous considering the display I found at Ulta was new (I know this, I go to Ulta a LOT). But then this is why I’m a crap beauty writer. Here you go, everybody, here’s a great product you can’t buy.
Fortunately we’ll all be dead by the end of the day anyway, so your possible resentment of me will be short-lived.
A Body Pillow
I had one of my things recently, in which I decided it was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for me to have a body pillow. I generally sleep with four pillows at a minimum, sort of tucked around me like a small fluffy fortress, so I reckoned that one body pillow could probably knock at least two of those pillows off the list, combining them in one handy package.
(Speaking of fortresses, did you know that my name means “dark fortress,” or alternatively, “stranger from a dark town?” Isn’t that AWESOME? Newer baby name guides will tell you it means “holly garden” or a meadow or some crap but I think these are way inferior options so I choose to ignore them.)
When I started my body-pillow shopping I was expecting to find not a huge amount of variety -- I figured all body pillows would look like regular pillows, except longer. Maybe their innards would vary, but that was it. BOY WAS I WRONG. There’s multitudes of curiously shaped body pillows out there these days, mostly marketed to the pregnant; I guess if your body’s being taken over by what is technically a parasitic organism you will grab all the comfort you can get.
This is the one I DIDN’T buy, only because I worried there would not be room for it, me, and my husband all in our queen-size bed.
Does that not look like the greatest thing ever? My yearning for it made me realize I don't even so much want to sleep in a bed so much as I want to sleep in a nest, like a pillow-hoarding squirrel.
But given my space limitations, I decided I would stick with the traditional rectangular pillow shape, and thus I purchased this “gel fiber” down alternative version from the good people at Sleep Better. I assume they’re good people exclusively based on how much I like this pillow, as I know nothing else about the company.
(Also, yes, that is ANOTHER Amazon link. I’m sorry. I have Prime so I even order boring shit from Amazon, like hand towels and Sriracha, that I could easily buy closer to home. Sorry sorry sorry. If it helps, I bought the furry body-pillow-cover locally!)
Anyway, gel fiber is not actually a squooshy sort of gel so much as it is a gel that is stretched and fibery. Again, I am assuming this based on what I’ve read, not because I’ve performed surgery on my pillow to check, although if I’m honest I have been sorely tempted. The up side to this gel fiber stuff is that is stays lofty and poofy like down, but without the remnants of a zillion dead geese filling the thing you put your head on every night to sleep. (Honestly, is no one else grossed out by down pillows?) Gel fiber allegedly holds its shape better than your average dead-goose pillow as well, which has definitely been something I’ve noticed in these wondrous last few nights of (platonic) bliss with my body-pillow friend.
Between this and my new friend melatonin, I’m sleeping like a drunken chipmunk. And I’ll meet the apocalypse in comfort, rest assured.
Self Help Books
Just in case the world DOESN’T end, or if maybe you want to embark on a bit of self-improvement in our few remaining hours knowing you don’t have to commit TOO much, the universally beloved pop philosopher Alain de Botton has teamed up with Picador to publish an original series of books based on the de Botton-cofounded “School of Life,” an institution with the purpose of educating normal non-student people in “good ideas for everyday life,” minus all the dogma and abstraction of most formal higher education.
To this end, the Picador series will offer books on basic skills, the purpose of which, according to series editor de Botton, is to remake the self-help book into something that is actually helpful. It’s a pretty clever idea. The first two American editions are de Botton’s own “How to Think More About Sex,” and Phillppa Perry’s “How to Stay Sane.”
de Botton’s contribution is typically de Bottonish, bringing clarity to the ideas and interactions we often find ourselves confused and frustrated by, but without the tools to unpack. The cheeky title points to de Botton’s suggestion that we don’t think too much about sex, but that we are merely thinking about it in the wrong (or, at least, unhelpful) way. Covering topics from the mundane resentment of long-term sexual relationships, to pornography, to fetishism, de Botton as usual is really really smart and says a bunch of stuff that makes me go, “DAMN WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT BEFORE IT’S SO OBVIOUS.”
Psychotherapist Perry’s “How to Stay Sane” obviously has a lot to live up to, and avoids the standard prescriptive tone that turns me off of many psychology how-to books. Much of her advice is self-evident -- be mindful of yourself, learn to usefully analyze your relationships, always be looking for opportunities to grow -- but it’s presented in a way that makes carrying through seem feasible. While I can’t say that there’s much here that wasn’t already familiar to me, the book itself was reassuring and sort of weirdly validating for me.
In a whole other area of self-help, we have the magnificent Hanne Blank’s latest offering, “The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts.” Given the passionate conversations had even just here on xoJane on the challenges of exercising while fat -- and without falling into body-hating traps -- this is a book I was incredibly excited to read, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Hanne -- full disclosure: I know Hanne, so I can’t just call her “Blank,” but I am also giving an HONEST REVIEW, I promise! -- manages to accomplish what the best life-changing how-to guides do, with concrete suggestions and examples. Hanne covers pretty much every last detail you could possibly think of in relation to exercising as a fat person -- from joining a gym to exercising at home, to developing workouts to dealing with the commentary of strangers -- all in her usual conversational (and often super funny) voice. One of my favorite bits of this book are the suggested “Incendiary Acts,” which include “Don’t make yourself responsible for other people’s bad behavior,” and “Claim the right to be unattractive,” and “Flail proudly.” I really like flailing and I really love this book.
Road to Nowhere
In conclusion, a song that always makes me feel better, whenever I think my world is ending.
I can also be found sharing pictures of Legos and livetweeting episodes of The X-Files on Twitter: @52stations