I didn't get to spend much time in Berlin. Considering I went to Europe in the first place because of Berlin, it seems especially silly, but I landed on Friday and flew out on Saturday, and in between cabs to the airport I only had time for dinner with a favorite expat of mine from New York City, to speak at a conference on surviving vulnerability with your heart intact in this crazy age of the Internet, and to meet an impressively good group of strong, artistic, enthusiastic women and men who managed to pull the impossible and give me a second (or third? fifth?) wind for this blogging shedoodle. I had a box of my books with me and we sold out in under 10 minutes. It was the kind of bleary-eyed experience that feels almost surreal. Probably because I was kiiiiiind of exhausted? But so, so so so happy. I felt happy because of the Internet in Berlin. Like a dream, that's for sure. ;)

It's different world over there on the Euro-net. (I just invented that word.) I joked that it was like time travel over there, but it's true! It's still 2005 over there in their neck of the bloggy woods, and I am so excited to see how everything unfolds for them. I have a sneaking suspicion they might correct for a few of the left turns we took over here as we found our way through. I sure hope so.

My topic was haters. Big fat quotation marks there. "Haaaaaaa-terrrrrs."

I spoke on haters, and now, I'm going to write about them. If you'll pardon some blunt honesty here for a minute. It's long, and it's after the jump. And just a quick note-this is not about artistic critique or less-than-glowing book reviews. Those of course are valid and valuable and I consider myself lucky to have that opportunity. This is about bullying, cruelty, personal insults, and shame mongering. it's about H-A-T-E. Okay. Onward.  

So, my laptop is still broken. This is pertinent information, I promise. So it's broken and I ordered a replacement, and now I am waiting for it. It should be my turn to get a laptop in the mail somewhere around June. Apparently MacBooks are the new cronut. Until then my old laptop is just sad and broken, and I can only ever see the bottom left quadrant of anything at any given time, so whenever I edit photos and with every line that I type, right at the middle point there's this big slice of glitchy pixelated weirdness that I have to work around. It is, like, the biggest metaphor of my life right now, this giant slice down the center of my laptop, because for the last little while it's been making it real hard for me to see the Internet clearly. I'm poking my head around things over here, trying to get a handle on stuff, figuring out how to make things work. Figuring out if things are worth making work in the first place, and if not, what's next? That kind of thing. And I'm waiting on my answer still. It'll come to me one of these days.

So yes. Sometimes it's hard to see around the haters. 

But see, I don't believe in that word though, "haters." I don't. I don't buy it. I have not yet in my lifetime met a single individual who was only capable of hate, and I have a hard time believing that anybody should be disregarded completely just because their words happen to hurt (though, they probably should be), and I also don't believe that anybody, no matter how mean or cruel they may be, is doing anything purely out of "hate." 

But I do believe in weakness. And I do believe in anger. 

I do believe in irritation. I also believe in spite.  

I believe in frustration, too. And sadness. Misguided disappointment. 

I believe in bad decisions. 

And I understand catharsis.

But I don't believe in this "us vs them" bullshit. It's not "Bloggers" vs "Readers," we are all, all of us, "humans." Same team. Duh. If you've been looking at the other people online like they're something to be beaten, well. I think you might be the problem here.

Don't get me wrong, it's super easy to draw the distinction, to make that separation, to classify ourselves as one thing or the other, but we are all exactly the same. Not one of us is innocent of what the other is guilty. We all put out, and we all take in. I've done it. I've read blogs that make me roll my eyes, and I've gone there again with no other reason than to see what they're up to so I can roll my eyes again. It's human nature. I was just talking to my father-in-law about this last night, about how frustrated he is with Facebook because it turns out he is completely against the politics of a lot of his friends but he just can't seem to turn away, even when what he reads makes him red-in-the-face kind of angry and can ruin his whole day. I don't know if he's ever engaged with these "thems" in his life; I do know my sister once engaged with a "them" over a religious disagreement--our aunt--and that both of them walked away feeling completely crappy, swearing they'd never do it again. Anyway, it's there. It happens. We're all in the thick of it. 

But it's this "us vs them" idea, I think, that's feeding this beast, giving an urgency to these opinions that otherwise we'd all know for sure we were not supposed to share. 

"Surely I can't be the only one that thinks this!?" 

That's where it starts. 

"I can't be the only one who thinks this. Who out there agrees with me?!" 

We all do this--not just with the negative things, more often with the good things. I mean, I do it err damn day on this blog! This is how we find our connections, this is how we find our people. It's the "Me, Too" phenomenon. And it's amazing! And you know what, ain't nothing wrong with it if it happens sarcastically. I mean, sometimes *I* attempt this sarcastically, and I always regret when I attempt it sarcastically, and one of these days I will stop attempting things sarcastically, but probably immediately thereafter I will die, because then I will have finally become a perfect person and it will be like unto those characters on Lost who have wrapped up their issues and then suddenly get exploded. (The teacher--remember that one?)

The "Me Too" phenomenon. The problem starts when the "Me Too's" are over things that manners would suggest we should keep to ourselves. The dark side of our thoughts. The "if you can't say something nice" thoughts. That's still a thing, right? Manners? Kindness? Oh good.

"Oh my gosh, I can't believe she did that! I can't wait to see what everyone's saying about it." 

That's what's next. 

Sometimes, we let it get to this stage:

"Here's what *I* think, and I don't care if it's hurtful. I don't care if it's hurtful, and I don't care if it's truthful, it's just what I think, and it's not my fault I think it, it's hers. It's her fault for sharing it. That's on her for even being it in the first place." 

Hatersville, party of us. We wipe our hands clean, right? That's how we get here. We hold no responsibility over our opinions of others' behaviors; that's on them. They don't like what I say? Well then they don't have to do what irritates me. I just can't with her anymore. She is such a c-u-n-t. Her husband must be so sick of her. Someone needs to take her off her damn pedestal. Me. Maybe it should be me that takes her off her damn pedestal.

Last year at Halloween I went to a bookstore and picked up a few Gothic Victorian Halloween-y type classics. Frankenstein, Dracula, a collection of Edgar Allen Poe, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, you get the drift. Jekyll & Hyde was slimmest of the bunch, so obviously I read that one first. You know, a warm up. Sometimes literary pursuits can be jarring to my system. ;) While reading one day, while Huck played at the playground and the world smelled of fireplaces, I had myself an intense emotional discovery.

So now we are going to talk about Jekyll & Hyde. 

Not the restaurant in Times Square, though that place is pretty rad, too.

The way it goes is this. Dr Jekyll is this really great dude. Beloved in his community, he's tall, strong, handsome, broad shouldered, kind. He loves doing good, he loves being good. He is a good, good man. But he also loves sinning. As do we all. He loves reveling in lasciviousness (I love that word). But as much as he loves to go out and sin and carouse all night long, he hates the guilt of it even more. So he devises a way where he can split these two parts of his self into two separate selves, two distinct men, so that he never needs to feel the ramifications of what the other has engaged in. When Jekyll is Jekyll he is good, and when Jekyll is Hyde he is bad. Period. And never the twain shall meet. Once this potion he's created wears off, Hyde resumes his life as his stronger self Dr Jekyll, and Dr Jekyll feels not a single speck of guilt over any of Hyde's decisions. Mission accomplished! 

The story is told from the perspective of a third character, a good friend of Jekyll's, and he describes the first time he sees this Mr Hyde person. Hyde is stooped over; hunched. Gnarled and crooked and deformed, with the face of evil itself. Uncoordinated and weak. 

Over time, as Jekyll spends more evenings out in the skin of Mr Hyde, something starts to change in Dr Jekyll's demeanor. His hair starts to gray, to thin, his muscles start shrink. Age catches up with him quicker, he hobbles a little bit more, his footing becomes unsteady, he needs to rest more frequently. Meanwhile, Hyde is filling out. His posture is straighter, his muscles stronger, his coordination smoother, until one day when the potion wears off and he doesn't revert to Jekyll. Jekyll is no longer his default state, because Hyde has become too strong. His Hyde has eclipsed his Jekyll, and he now needs the potion not to become sinful, but to resume his business and social engagements as the kinder Dr Jekyll.  

I think about this all. the. time. I have assailed myself and this story upon all of my friends. We talk about it at length at our house. I made it the foundation of my presentation at The Hive. 

The thing of it is, we are all filled with the complications of duality. We all feel love, and we all feel hate. We all pass judgement, we all grant forgiveness. We all have engaged, in one form or another, in taunting, teasing, bullying, or criticizing. Many of us have done it online. Once, maybe twice. Maybe accidentally. Some of us do it for sport. 

But what happens when those muscles of cruelty grow too strong? What happens when we shut down our laptops and that cruelty comes with us, no longer trapped between the keys and glowing screen? 

I understand the nature of blogging. Of publishing, of acting, of doing anything in a public arena, really. I understand it. That doesn't mean I am okay with  it. I am not okay with it. And that doesn't mean I've always been able to cope with it. Full stop, I am very new at knowing how to cope with it. In the past, I've done a bad job of it. Like last Christmas. Last Christmas it broke me. In the middle of a lot of online scrutiny, and in the beginning stages of writing this book that I just knew was going to be torn to pieces by those who truly wanted me to suffer, I broke. I broke down. Guys, I was 89 pounds fully clothed that Christmas. I made my aunt cry at my sister's wedding. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't go a full hour without having some kind of panic attack over something ridiculous, the PMDD that was only sort of a pain before all this had suddenly become completely untenable. I literally could not function once the hormonal element hit at the end of my cycle. I was a hollow version of myself. It was bad. I saw doctors, I saw therapists, I saw psychiatrists, I saw specialists. It took a lot of work. I am glad for it though, and I am now a hilariously strong person because of it. I stared into the eye of the most frightened parts of myself and the  most awful people on the Internet, and I decided to become brave. I decided to believe that what they were doing in those forums was not "entertainment," not "critique," and not "justified." I decided to face reality and stop trying to find the good in those that perpetrated it. I had to believe that I was worth more than that, and that none of their garbage about me was true.

And you guys, I am. I now know I am worth way more than that. (And you are, too.) 

What goes on online in certain parts of the Internet is truly, heartbreakingly disgusting. It is wrong

There are a lot of people who want me to hurt. They want me to know, they need me to know, that they are unhappy with me, that I let them down, that I am not what the kinder people among us might say that I am. That I am nothing

I finally realize that has nothing to do with me whatsoever.

Now, I don't like to let people down, just like I don't like to be around people who can't deal with their own emotions and be kind to others anyway. But I want to let all those out there for whom I've proved a disappointment to know this: My failure does not make your cruelty okay.

To those out there who've tried in the past to ruin my career. To those out there who've emailed past sponsors to get my partnerships cancelled (sponsors who all emailed me in return going, like, who ARE these nutballs?), to those who've lobbed hateful words my way, who've left harsh, degrading reviews of me on Amazon--of ME--to you I say this: 

Don't Hyde yourselves, girls! Stand up a little taller! Exercise your muscles of kindness! Become women of substance! Don't let the stooped-over monster of resentment and envy grow so strong that it overpowers the rest of you! Don't let that future sneak up on you, take control of your final selves! Of the Internet's final self! Take control! Make cognitive choices that will lead you where you really want to be. You are the only one who can do that for yourself. Taking me down is highly counter-intuitive!!!

Also. Fuck you.

Sometimes I catch wind of the feeding frenzy that goes on in certain places online any time I do something asinine (often). It doesn't make me angry. It doesn't make me frightened. It doesn't hurt my feelings. It sometimes makes me defensive, and I do wish that it didn't (maybe someday it won't).  It does make me sad. Deeply sad. For all of us. Sadness for those that wrote it, sadness for those that read it. Sadness because it has to feel awful to be in that place where you need to have that kind of sustenance, the kind of sustenance that tears others down in order to make strong. I would so much rather be on this end of that hatred than the other. Carrying that around all day? Guys, this side of things is a much sunnier place to be. 

Story time. 

Once upon a time, I went on GOMI. I did, it was part of my cognitive therapy "homework" if you will. I made myself an account (and I gave myself a horribly inappropriate, darkly-not funny screen name) and I went on and I answered some questions. I defended myself. I apologized for the things that I needed to apologize for (duh, there's plenty--I ain't perfect). And do you know what happened? It changed in there. Suddenly people were kind. They were writing nice things about me. They were rooting for me! I got a ton of nice emails from GOMI users, all of them basically saying, "I read your forum, they be crazy in there." This change lasted a few days, until some of the longer-term users got in there and started harassing everyone who was being nice until eventually all the kindness went away. They said, "Start a SOMI for this! This doesn't belong here!" and then when someone did start up a SOMI for me, those same users went in and bombarded it with gifs until everyone in there gave up, too. 

It was hysterical

That did it. It was a tipping point, and I stopped feeling any curiosity at all about what anybody might have to say about me over there. I had proven my point.

I had won. 

Guys, kindness can win. Even if hatred is louder. 

At The Hive I shared a few things that I want other bloggers to know about online cruelty. They're things I want readers to know, too. Things I think everyone on the Internet should know. They are:

1. It's not normal. We weren't created to withstand this. We shouldn't expect it, we shouldn't stand for it. Nobody should. What you would do if you overheard your child being talked about in this way? Would you think he deserved it? It is not normal you guys. Those who would argue that you're "putting yourself out there," we ALL put ourselves out there. Come on. Imagine someone coming up to you on the street and slugging you in the face. "Your fault, dude. You came outside." Guys, cut that out. Your mom is on Facebook.

2. It's not true. Whatever mistakes you make, whatever nuggets of truth are at the heart of the insult, it's not true. It's not real. You are not the sum total of your parts, the world is not black and white, nobody is all this or all that, it's not real. One person will find your nose highly unattractive and insult you on the Internet for it, another will come up to you after a conference presentation has ended to tell you he thinks you're the most beautiful woman he's ever seen, and then single out your nose as the reason (not kidding). One reader will email to tell you that you've helped her stop cutting herself, that you've given her a glimpse of a future where she can imagine herself being happy, and that you've changed the whole world for her. Another will write that you are hateful and stupid and worth being boycotted. Come on. So take it from me. All those hateful words? They're not true. I promise.

3. It won't ruin you. Noise is not power. Sponsors don't rescind offers. Friends don't turn against you. Family doesn't stop being proud of you. Nobody reads that stuff and thinks "geez I was wrong, she IS terrible!" What they do think, is "what a bunch of nutjobs." I got an email the week my book was published from a blogger who'd also had a book published, and who had similarly been torn to pieces online because of it. "It'll be okay," she said. "It won't ruin you." She told me she'd gotten a similar email from another blogger who'd published a book and had also been torn to bits with a similar message. "It'll be okay. It won't ruin you," she'd said. It was like being the caboose of a long train of encouragement. So let me be the one pass that on right now.

Guys. It'll be okay. It won't ruin you. You still have every reason to feel proud of your accomplishments. It feels like the end of the world, but it isn't. You feel completely alone, but you aren't. You still hold promise. They may try to take good things from you, but your life is not something they can hold. Stay strong. Keep your chin high. Keep on keepin' on.  

Fist bumps, kids.



I did a pretty decent job of packing for my ten days in Europe, give or take a few lessons learned along the way. If I were going again (can I please!!!!) here is what I'd bring again, what I'd leave behind, and what all I'd bring instead.

BLACK DENIM // Bringing a pair of black denim was the smartest idea of aaaaall the times. Having a second pair of jeans, though, would have been really, really nice, too. Soooo I bought myself a pair while I was out. Luckily, this is the type of purchase I don't mind having to make while abroad what-so-everrrrr, but if you don't like to make time to shop while traveling, I advise bringing a second pair of jeans. (I picked up a pair of these while in the Marais and I love them.)

MULTIPLE SHOE OPTIONS // Shoes are heavy, but for me, ultimately worth the backache. One thing I've learned from life in NYC about foot fatigue is that usually simply changing your shoes from day to day is enough to keep your tootsies happy pounding sidewalks for hours at a time. I did leave my penny loafers behind, I did regret it, and I did buy a second pair of sneakers to make up for it, but, see above. I wasn't too mad about it. :)

TEES + TOPS // Four shirts and a sweater were the perfect amount of shirts and sweaters. They were all I needed. Maybe a less bulky sweater the next time?

SCARF // Hooray for bringing a scarf! In a pinch it'll cover a sloppy pomme frites episode. Thumbs up.

DRESS + SKIRT // I looove wearing skirts and dresses in the summer, but in the colder months it's just too much work for me. I overestimated the weather forecasts and my willingness to dress up for stuff, and oh well. It was a nice idea anyway :).

BLACK BRA // Diiiiiid I wear that bra once? Nnnnnoope. I guess this is the lesson learned: If you don't wear it at home, you ain't gonna wear it abroad.

LIPSTICK // I just didn't wear it! Lipstick would have felt so over the top for some reason, but your mileage may vary. Now that I think about it, a tube of lipstick is small enough there's no harm in bringing some along just in case. If I had been with Brandon, I may have worn some to dinner? Who knows. Eh, I'd probably bring it along again. Whatever.

UMBRELLA // I hadn't planned to pack an umbrella, but I did pack an umbrella, and then it just sat in my bag taking up space. The one time it did rain I decided to duck into a café to ride it out, so next time I think I'd leave it at home. There were plenty of umbrellas for sale on the sidewalks everywhere I went, and if I needed one I think I'd have been able to find one just fine.

NOTEBOOK + PEN // I packed my iPhone and iPad thinking that would be plenty for any note taking or plan-making needs, but I found myself craving an old school pen and paper for writing down schedules + itineraries, listing out plans, doodling on maps, scribbling down thoughts, etc.

SUNGLASSES // I ended up picking up a pair of super cheap sunglasses, the kind you'd get at a gas station for $5, and that was a real good call. They got beat up and I didn't mind so much. But if I wanted to be purposeful about it, that could have been smart, too. :)

WOOL COCOON COAT // On my way out to grab a taxi to the airport I happened to grab my black wool coat at the last minute, and I'm so glad I did. Something oversized and menswear-y was much smarter than my trusty leather jacket, even if I do wear it all the time at home and as much fun as it may be to be a bad-ass and junk. :) The wool coat was much more versatile. It makes a better blanket or pillow on the plane than a leather jacket (no scratchy zippers), it's layerable like crazy in case the weather turns out colder than expected, and because it was longer it was easy to drape over the top of my tote bag and under my arm when I didn't need to wear it, which actually wasn't that often at first. Here it was April and I was most of the time freezing. Plus, I mean, the wool cocoon coat is trés trendy right now in Paris, so . . . well, you know how I be. :) (This one is amaaaazing.)

BAGGU REUSABLE SHOPPING BAG // I always have a Baggu with me in my tote in NYC, so I lucked out on this one and had one abroad as well, but to all those who don't walk around packing Baggu heat, you should definitely bring a reusable shopping bag of some kind. You pick up so many miscellaneous things while traveling--water bottles, maps, brochures, receipts, souvenirs--and having a big bag to shove it all in that I could wear on my shoulder was a life saver. 
BASEBALL CAP // Bad hair days happen, people.

PLANNING FOR SHOPPING // For those of us Natalie-types (whatever that means), I think purposefully under-packing for a trip like this is kiiiiind of a genius idea. "Oops! Didn't bring enough shoes!" Right? Verrrry clever. I've brought empty duffels before for this type of thing (one bag to, two bags home), but this time around I planned to stop in at the post office to mail myself some things. These days with checked luggage costing extra, it's almost even-steven either way. If your primary luggage has wheels. About three countries in I did fantasize about attaching roller skates to the bottom of my bag :).

CAMERA SITUATION // Whyyyyy are DSLRs so heavvvyyyyyy? I am so glad I brought my nice camera, don't get me wrong. Wandering around and taking photos was such a relaxing, enjoyable way to spend my time exploring, but I'm about ready to figure something out about this whole situation, because there's just no reason a person needs to lug around an enormous bulky camera anymore. What century is this! I've been researching cameras since I got home--I want something small and pretty, with switchable lenses, that doesn't weigh forty pounds. Maybe a Fuji? Any suggestions?

And ps--thank you to everyone who left notes in the comments on my original packing post. I read them all and they made such a difference in my planning! Thank you!



After being in Paris, Amsterdam felt like a total party.  If Paris was an art gallery--all hushed voices and expensive wines--Amsterdam was a frat house. Beer pong and happy laughter and rambunctiousness and dudes and lots of space cakes ;). And where I loved my stay in Paris for the quiet, reflective time it was, I also really loved being around all those Dutch dudes with their wry sense of humor and infectious laughs and really, really good food. DUTCH FOOD. I'm sorry Paris, but Amsterdam blew you straight out the water with their food situation.

A few more thoughts and photos from my time in Amsterdam . . .



This morning while I was making the scrambled eggs, Huck came to me with a rather unique opportunity.

"Mom," he said in his very serious business-like tone. "Mom, I will eat all my scrambled eggs . . . if I get to watch movies on TV first. WIFFOUT bones." 

"Wiffout bones" is the term Huck came up with to differentiate between kid shows that are made up of live action actors and shows that are made up of animation. Bones means real people are in it, no bones means just . . . ink? is in it? The first time he brought this up to me I was so confused. "Mom, is this a Mulan wiff bones?" Why would Mulan not have bones, Huck? Of course Mulan has bones!? It reminded me of the time my 6th grade gym teacher asked me if I'd always had a mouth on me and when I said yes, because, duh, I had to run a mile as punishment for talking back. Anyway, Mulan came on and of course it's a cartoon, and Huck was so exasperated with me for being so slow, and okay, I get it now. Because cartoons don't have bones, and blood rhymes with flood, and wouldn't it be so weird if we floated to the ceiling in our blood and, like, swam around in it and stuff? So just the other day when Huck said to me me, "Well, I like the Grinch wiff bones because he falled down and it was funny. But the Grinch wiffout bones is sort of scary," I was able to nod along as though it made complete sense to me. 

Making deals and striking negotiations with the four-and-under set is not always so simple as an easy one-off cartoon-for-scrambled-egg trade. Especially when you're dealing with a four-year-old who is still making up words for things. Hell, I'm still making up words for things. But deal-making and peace talks and defining terms and endless go rounds on contract stipulations is just what you do when you're a mother to a four-year-old. Sit still, and then you can have your cupcake. Ask nicely, and then I will get you a cup of milk. Put the movies on wiffout the bones, and then I will eat my breakfast. No I will not go to the bathroom before we leave, because I do not feel like washing my hands right now. 

The one we go around on the most has to do with Huck's skin. Huck sometimes suffers from eczema. It's not terrible, I've seen cases much worse, but if his immune system is compromised, or if he's been spending too much time in the sun and not enough time drinking water, his skin will break out in these angry red splotches around his mouth, elbows, and knees, and the ointments will sting, and he will insist that he likes being scratchy, and of course he won't soak in an oatmeal bath, he doesn't even like to eat oatmeal, why on earth would he want to sit in it? 

But then there are the things you do as a mom that aren't open to discussion. "No, and that's final." "Do it, and do it NOW." Like holding my hand when we cross the street. Not running on the sidewalks. Wearing our seat belts in the car. Saying "please" and "thank you." Sitting still on the subway. Not picking your nose and eating it (that is the sword I will fall on, I swear it. You do NOT eat your boogers, Huck). "Because I said so" is my favorite thing in the world to say, and strangely enough, Huck seems accept it without much complaint, I suppose because I use it pretty infrequently. Or more likely because I have a real scary Mean Mom face. 

It looks a lot like my regular face. ;)


IN PARIS . . .

Some thoughts, some photos, from my time in Paris . . .



Henry Holbrook, Luckiest Kid on Planet Earth, recently got himself the upgrade of a lifetime thanks to Land of Nod, the sweetest online destination for all things kid. I swear I think Huck may have been a four-leaf clover in a past life. 

There is something really magical about a bunk bed, isn't there? ("Bump bed," if you're Huck.) I remember desperately wanting a bunk bed when I was a kid, even though I didn't share a bedroom. And pretty much the minute Huck learned the things even existed, he was over the moon with excitement at the prospect of someday talking us into getting him one. We're talking constant negotiation, bunk beds were always on the table. 

"I eat my dinner and then can I have a bump bed?" 
"Mmmmm, how about a cookie." 

We recently had the opportunity to work with Land of Nod to spruce up Huck's bedroom space, and of course we knew immediately what we had to do. This was our moment! Our bump bed moment! The magic of a bunk bed, I think, lies in all of the non-sleeping possibilities. Oh the things a bunk bed can become with the help of a little imagination! I may be fulfilling my own childhood dreams vicariously through this one, I'm not ashamed to admit it. :)

A few more photos of Huck's new space and plenty of source information after the jump!



Signings in Amsterdam and a six hour train ride to Berlin for me, what are you puppies up to?

Links to a few things you might enjoy this weekend . . .

The Kingdom of Westeros in Minecraft
. Full disclosure: I know less than nothing about Minecraft.

This might brighten your day: designer real estate for hermit crabs

The 50 best films of the decade so far, part one and part two, according to these people anyway. Thoughts?

Six Scandi fashion blogs you should follow.

Buy one of these for your babies ASAP.

Could you go three days without looking in the mirror? Would it change your life? Leandra did. I once went four days without a mirror on a Youth Conference pioneer trek . . . actually it was sort of transformative, I won't lie.

What happened when two Vogue beauty editors swapped beauty routines for a week


GRANNY HAIR. I want in.

Guys, keep it real. I'll see you in Berlin! 



It's kind of a cliché by now, the American in Paris frantically raiding the Paris drugstores of all the miracle French skin creams + potions they can get their hands on, then toting home an entire luggage bag full of just beauty products. It's silly though, because--and full disclosure I fully intend on doing it anyway--you can get just about all of it here in the States without even leaving your house. 

Some of my favorite French drugstore products you can find on l'Amazon . . .

Klorane Dry Shampoo - pricey, but lovely.
Bioderma Solution Micellaire - this makeup remover doesn't require rinsing! it's weird + wonderful.
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré - ultra moisturizing
Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm - goes on real thick, like a moisturizing lip mask, perfect at bedtime

Now for all you who travel more than me--what are your favorites? Spill it. And if you've come across any products that are legit-style only offered in France, let a girl know so I can nab some!



yours truly up front in a shop in canada!thx anabela for the shot!

I'M ON A PLANE! Well, in a few hours I'm on a plane. (Remember to email me at heynataliejean at gmail to RSVP if you can make the meet+greet in Paris!) I'm so excited / totally thrilled / a little bit nervous for my time in Europe, and so grateful to the folks at The Hive for inviting me out to speak at their conference in Berlin so I could have the excuse to meet readers in nearby cities. It's going to be restorative and wonderful for me + my introvert to wander all over hill and dale together, I can't wait. Though don't cry for me Argentina but this will be my first time away from my baby for longer than one night in . . . ever. Fingers crossed my cabbies are nice and my conversational French is up to the job! 

So! A few quick things I enjoyed this week . . . 

This Hey Natalie Jean book review. Clearly. I mean, obviously I agree with every word of it. ;)

The trailer for the Iris Apfel Documentary!!!!!!!!! Caaaaan't waaaaaait.

This made me cry.

My favorite mascara of all the times.

The adorable café in Paris where we'll be having our author meet + greet is adorable.

New York TV apartments and what they'd be worth today.

I love this girl and her #noapologiesproject on Instagram.

Striped dress alert!

I got to attend the Madewell fall 15 preview and it was everything you'd want fall to be.

Beautiful post on nursing.

My sister recently joined the Birkenstock fold, and it reminded me I've been looking at these kids birks as a possible alternative to Saltwaters. Though why you'd need an alternative to Saltwaters is beyond me.

This article on the nerdiest casting director in Hollywood--right up my alley.

I've scheduled a week of posts for while I'm out. In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend! 



I have been so excited to pack for this trip. Which is really nerdy now that I think about it. But there you have it. I've been working out how little I can bring to Europe to make it 10 days, my goal being toting just one lightweight carry-on. I am determined to be as portable as possible since I'll be spending a lot of time wandering around after check-outs and before check-ins and logging a good amount of hours on some trains. And of course I want to have a little extra room for a souvenir or two. :) Madewell kindly offered to send over a few finishing touches for a "touring wardrobe," if you will, for my little jaunt across the pond (all these phrases coming out of my mouth crack me up) and so now I am going to present unto you, ye people of the Internet, what all I am bringing! Most likely bringing. It's still a work in progress, and I'm sure I'll keep tweaking it up until the moment I leave for the airport because that's just the kind of dorky thing I like to do. (Like maybe trade those sneakers for a second pair of denim?) 

So here's what's going on in my carry-on tomorrow, give or take something or other, thanks in large part to the cool cats at Madewell (who are running an extra 30% off all sale right now, beeteedubs).

/ One pair of black denim, since black is forgiving, and probably blue as well, this remains to be seen.
/ This paperbag waist skirt for in case I feel feminine, or if a lot of cheese happens and pants and I just aren't having it.
/ A comfortable pair of boots for walking in (I might bring these instead?)
/ The barest makeup essentials in my dopp kit: mascara, tinted moisturizer and cheek gelee, (as well as, you know, my toothbrush and junk).
/ A leather jacket.
/ Paris in April is supposed to be chilly-ish, cloudy-ish, rainy-ish, so a trench coat seems appropriate. Mine is from Target a million years ago + I have yet to find anything better. Trench coat shopping is tough!
/ My favorite sweater of the year.
/ A dress for events.
/ Leggings for sleeping.
/ Lipstick! This stuff is the best.
/ A scarf and my passport. You know.
/ A striped tee
/ And chambray
/ A couple tee shirts
/ Uppers and downers
/ The tote bag of the century
/ Oxfordsloafers, and Bens (maybe, maybe not)
/ Something to carry it all in

Not shown: Phone chargers and plug adapters. They're not the prettiest.

Any tips? Those of you who've done + learned + have wisdom to impart, please! Impart! 



Hey Europe, I'm coming for ya!

Tuesday, April 7 15h (3pm)
La Chambre aux Oiseaux
48 Rue Bichat 75010
Please pre-purchase your copy of Hey Natalie Jean and bring it to the event for signing
(find it here!)

Friday, April 10 10h (10am)
American Book Center
Spui 12 1012 XA
Copies will be available for purchase on-site

Saturday, April 11 (all day)
The Hive Conference
(purchase tickets here)
Copies will be available for purchase on-site

Sunday April 12 19h (7pm)
The Gallery Cafe at St Margaret's House
21 Old Ford Road
Bethnal Green, London
Please pre-purchase your copy of Hey Natalie Jean and bring it to the event for signing 
(find it here!)

Additional events may be added. To be kept up to speed on this and on possible changes, all that stuff, please email heynataliejean at gmail dot com with the subject PARIS RSVP, AMSTERDAM RSVP, or LONDON RSVP.

ALSO! If you'll be attending an event and would like to buy a Kathleen Kelly tote, include that in your email!! I can only fit a few in my luggage so please try to reserve via email before Friday. They are $34 each.

photos by cheyenne mojica

See you soon, nerds!