What are you going to do with your new lunar year?
I first learned about the legendary (French) sailor Isabelle Autissier from her friend, the great Giovanni Soldini, another legendary (Italian) sailor who I interviewed for Vogue a few years ago and who famously rescued her when they were both competing in a solo around-the-world race. She capsized in a particularly dangerous spot, he came to her rescue, they had wine and cheese until she got safely situated (so French/ Italian, I can’t even), and he still went on to win. To be honest, I’d love to be saved by either of them. (I cannot really picture another scenario in which they take me sailing.) He’s charm incarnate, and she seems deeply cool. Her interview in the FT last weekend was a brisk pleasure: she is, like most people who live the majority of their lives near the ocean, very concerned about the environment and how little we’re doing as a civilization to rectify the situation. “It makes me sad to say that we have to suffer in order to stop being idiots,” she says. “I would prefer that we be idiotic for as short of time as possible.” Amen!
A thing I enjoyed watching recently: Argentina 1985. For ages, it seems, I’ve been talking to anyone who will listen about how much I’ve missed great legal dramas with the Sorkin-esque speechifying and the soaring instrumentals and a lot of weight put on the right and moral thing. Thank you for listening, Santiago Mitre! This movie—inspired by real-life Argentinian lawyers Julio Strassera and Luis Moreno Ocampo, who along with a rag-tag(!) young legal team(!!) prosecuted members of the former military junta(!!!) to bring justice to the 30,000 or so victims of that deadly regime—is that movie I’ve been (loudly, not particularly patiently) waiting for. It’s harrowing, it’s true, it’s great. I am a child of lawyers, I live with a lawyer (by education, if not by trade), I probably think like a lawyer, it is hard for me to not root for the lawyers! Still, I recommend it even to those who are not particularly inclined to talk of Torts—and very highly. I bet it will probably win the best international film Oscar, if you care about that sort of thing (she said with absolutely no certainty). I believe it is currently in some small theaters and everywhere on Amazon Prime. Yes it’s subtitled, get over it, it’s worth it.
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A very well-written review: The New Yorker on Prince Harry’s Spare almost makes me want to read it just to seek out the Shakesperean Easter eggs. But I am certainly not in a rush. (“Todger,” kill me.)
A charming podcast episode: the always deeply wonderful Samin Nosrat was interviewed on Freakonomics and the whole thing is like listening in to your smartest, most soothing friend talk, sort of loose and meditative, but I made a note to mention it here when she reiterated advice along the lines of: “Make something where just being you is enough.” In that vein…
Currently reading: Fieldwork by Iliana Regan, a co-owner of The Milkweed Inn, which is a place I am hesitant to even tell you about because I’m dying to go there and it’s already impossible to get a reservation. It’s a bed-and-breakfast in the deeply beautiful Hiawatha National Forest, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, an area that I have been lucky enough to visit, and would love to go back to, especially if it’s because I am going to eat Regan’s amazing foraged food and drink some of the wines selected by her wife, Anna Hamlin. They are both former highly acclaimed/ successful (Michelin starred!) Chicago food and wine folks who did the thing we all talk about doing, which is give it all up to go do what we really want to do. (Regan’s first book, Burn the Place, is also supposed to be terrific, and is on my list.)
And now… you asked, I answered! A friend reached out to ask about the best “preferably natural” lip balms. Lucky her, and now you, this is a topic close to my heart! Dry lips are the enemy! (Dry skin too, but dry lips = a real no-go. Matte is a different thing, obviously. We love a matte lip.) As usual I got way too into it—recommendations, as you know, are my love language—so I thought I’d share. Here’s what I came up with. (And, as always, I am not making money off these! You can shop safe in the knowledge that I just honestly have tried this many products and want to tell you about it.)
In no particular order: Olio e Osso. An excellent everyday option to keep in the bag/car/whatever. Soft, firm, not goopy or gluey. I love the dimensions of the little glue-stick style tube, especially because I am always a little worried about the hygenics of the tubs and pots and the endless barrage of maybe not perfectly clean fingers... There is a clear version or some pretty tinted shades that look fresh and subtle on. ILIA lip wrap reviving balm. I love Ilia’s products (their mascara especially). I was putting this on before bed every night before I ran out of it. It’s not sexy (it looks like Blistex) but it works. I have friends who swear by Burts Bees cucumber mint balm. A great company, and mint is always nice near your mouth. I am among the legions who love Weleda Skin Food for dry skin during the winter, they also have a Lip Butter! Henné Organics luxury lip balm is very good and unscented and essential oil free. (Also, are you exfoliating your lips? Do that first. You can buy a product or you can just take some sugar and some coconut oil and a washcloth and go to town.)
If “natural” is not important in your lip product: I have loved La Neige’s lip sleeping mask since I started secretly swiping it out of my sister’s cabinet over the summer in Nantucket (sorry, Cotts!). It’s thick and slick and emollient and actually rather pretty looking on, which is not a necessity before sleeping but certainly doesn’t hurt. A little goes a long way. Nuxe Reve de miel. I do not know where Nuxe stands re natural v. not, but they are French, so I trust them more than I would an American brand (as should you). And yes, I know, it’s a pot. I’m breaking all the rules here. They have a stick version too but the pot is the better consistency, I don’t know why, it’s wetter or something. It’s nourishing and thick and smells great and it is very much not shiny, and sometimes we want a nourished healthy not-shiny lip only. So maybe keep a little spatula on hand for application. If you do want shiny, and a little tint, I just got the Wander Beauty retreat lip oil in Spring Break, it’s a lovely warm mauve-y rose shade and it’s so nice and so glossy glossy. A teeny bit sticky, though, as gloss always is when it’s the kind that stays. But not drying! So maybe 4/5 stars. I was given the U Beauty plasma lip compound in a swag bag so I cannot claim I paid the 68$(!) that it costs but it is delightfully decadent, if you are so inclined to indulge. I wouldn’t blame you! It makes me feel very fancy before I go to sleep. While working at Vogue I was once gifted the $78 (lol) La Mer lip balm and I regret to inform you it is also truly delightful (and tastes so good). But you know what? Aquaphor also does wonders. Make like all of our moms and keep a big tub by your bed, why don’t you.
Something beautiful and new (to me): Have you ever heard of Edith Clements? I had not! Quoth The Marginalian: “Two centuries after the young self-taught botanist and artist Elizabeth Blackwell painted her astonishing encyclopedia of medicinal plants and a century after the young Emily Dickinson composed her delicate herbarium of native New England wildflowers, the young Edith Clements began collecting, classifying, photographing, and painting 533 plant specimens from the mountains of Colorado for a meticulously annotated herbarium, completed in 1903 and followed by a second volume in 1904…She called her paintings ‘portraits,’ reflecting her determination to show people what plants are really like, with all the dazzling scientific complexity undergirding the aesthetic splendor.”
They’re really beautiful paintings. In 1926 National Geographic ran 32 of her illustrations alongside a feature about plant ecology and the issue sold out in record time, young people were apparently buying multiple copies to re-sell at an upcharge to meet the demand of people buying them to rip out and frame her works. “As Edith and Frederic Clements pioneered the study of plant ecology together, they were celebrated as ‘the most illustrious husband-wife team since the Curies.’ But their work was also seen as quixotic for its countercultural ethos, decades ahead of its time. In an era of world wars, when science was reduced to military technology and co-opted as a handmaiden of dueling nationalisms, Edith and Frederic endeavored to advance the conservation of this one indivisible planet by better understanding the role of climate and the relationships between life-forms. Along the way, they raised and began answering such complex and previously unasked questions as what makes a forest a forest — questions that would unravel some of the most astonishing science of our time.” And they literally whistled and sang while they worked. Do the kids still say “goals”? Probably not. But you know what I mean.
Okay. That’s all for now, I think. It’s a new lunar year, as of yesterday. The year of the rabbit! Let’s use it wisely. I went to see the Alexander Calder exhibit at the Pace Gallery here in L.A. last weekend, which I recommend doing if you have the time/inclination. My favorite was Little Mobile for Table’s Edge (1939), I think. Well, what else? Later this week I am going skiing and I am very excited about it. Let’s all aim to get outside and take deep breaths and walk around in the sun for at least 15 minutes a day, more if you can. (Always wear SPF, duh.) If you have any more requests or queries, please send them my way. I truly love to hear from you. Thanks, as always, for being here. I love you!
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