Good morning! I want to express my deepest condolences to anyone who has to work today. I’m off until the 4th, because my job absolutely rules. I will be spending my day baking chocolate babka and catching up on podcasts. I’m also racing to read 50 books by the end of the year…only 4 left!
I hope you and yours have a spectacular holiday season in spite of everything. Merry Christmas!
Taylor has done it again—sneak-attacking us with another iconic album, this time in celebration of her 31st birthday. I was an extremely late-adopter with Taylor, but even if I hadn’t already become a fan, 2020 would have been the year. This girl comes back harder than a ’90s trend. (This post was mostly written a week ago, so I know evermore is already old news.)
I’m going to be posting about my 2020 in books, but one that deserves an unrelated shout out is Beach Read by Emily Henry. I almost wanted to start over from the beginning when I finished it. Powerful, sweet, delightful fun. Also, I read this during a snowstorm, so it was nice to remember that summer exists.
I got another set of foils in my quest to become a blonde and the bleach lightened the virgin hair at my roots so much that it kind of looked like a ’90s boy-band’s frosted tips (I have since gotten a root smudge). I use Olaplex to keep my hair from falling out from the way I abuse it.
I’m listening to Shit, Actually by Lindy West and the chapter on The Notebook felt like a point-blank execution. I know it’s problematic, and that by extension, I’m problematic, but I don’t care! It’s an iconic love story! (To be clear, Lindy’s book absolutely rules and has made me laugh out loud like a fool on innumerable occasions.)
Bided (bode?) my time and finally managed to snag a new wool coat for 60% off. Debating as to whether I should grab this one too, since it’s SO inexpensive…
Reorganized my fridge again because, much like Angelica Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton, I will never be satisfied. These carafes are such a bargain and look sexy as hell in the fridge. No more ugly cardboard and plastic containers! These ones have a half gallon capacity if that better suits your needs.
I’ve probably already written about this, but I got a matching set of this hoodie and these joggers (when they were on sale, I’m not a millionaire) and I feel LUXE when I wear it. I wish I could afford to get them in every color. Ironically, the first day I wore my sweatsuit, I came across this article by one of my favorite writers, Amanda Mull. P.S. It’s probably only a matter of time before I get this to complete the look, since I’m the worst person I know.
Hanukkah was last week, and while I am not Jewish and have basically zero right to care about this, I am also an obsessively festive holiday person, so I had a 2-person mini feast of “traditional” foods I’d never tried to make before. A friend of mine made me some vegetarian matzoh ball soup and hamentachen, and I made latkes, applesauce, challah, and tzimmes (without the plums, since my husband has a thing about fruit in savory foods). It was so delicious and I’m definitely writing this while I’m eating the leftovers. Taste-wise, the challah wasn’t as good as when I made it on Rosh Hashanah (if this behavior is what gets me cancelled, it will have been a good run), but I’ve gotten so much better at braiding. It was a sight to behold!
Michael and I started watching Curb Your Enthusiasm again and, it’s truly the greatest show ever made.
We also just watched the newest season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and it’s an absolute fever dream. I think I’ll watch it again before I form a solid critical opinion. I’m also listening to the Maisel Goys, of course.
Can’t wait to watch Alison Brie’s new movie, Horse Girl.
Speaking of Netflix, I started watching Bonding and I’m not sure how to feel about that, either! I’m not sure 15 minutes is enough of an episode for me, but I’ll stick it out to the bitter end. I am…really mad that I never thought to get into that line of work to pay for school.
Oh, and P.S. I broke down and bought the Allbirds. Will report back.
2017 is over and frankly, BYE GIRL. What a rough year. I went from severe election depression, to a Mexican vacation, to not knowing WTF I was doing with my life, to going to grad school. The transition was rough, but not just for me. This year has also, obviously, been an actual trash-fire for the entire country.
But apart from praying for mercy from our overlords, there were a few enjoyable things about 2017. I went to Cancún and Atlanta for the first time, and got to spend two weeks in L.A., which I proudly yet undeservedly consider my homeland. I dove even deeper into my comedy obsession, and turned it into a final paper on feminism and comedy writing (in which I got to use the quotation “Men are a cancer! God made a mistake!“). I binged so much TV that it should be considered a crime against (my own) humanity. I started therapy and got back on meds. Actually, if it weren’t for the backdrop of constant nuclear panic, 2017 might have even been a good year.
Luckily, even in the darkest timeline, artists gonna art, so there was a barrage of dope shit released this year. Here are the things that really stood out in my 2017:
Literally everything Roxane Gay has ever written is perfect, so it was a no-brainer that this incredible book would be on my “Best Of” list. This book is so powerful and emotional; I cried reading it. Hunger is, genuinely, a memoir of her body—unlike so many other books written in a similar vein, this one has no self-help aims or “happy ending.” It is a raw, honest rendering of past and present traumas, and though Ms. Gay’s journey is unique to her, her writing speaks to the universal truths familiar to all those who inhabit bodies and navigate the world. For six months, the words of Hunger have stayed with me, like a haunting presence.
I haven’t finished this book yet, so no spoilers! (lol)
Part of me loves this book so much merely because I love Secretary Clinton and want to push back against the haters that think, for some reason, that it’s unacceptable that the first female presidential candidate of a major political party should write a book chronicling her experiences. I know this about myself. What I didn’t expect, upon beginning to listen (I’m checking out Audible this season), is how deeply First Lady Clinton’s words would affect me. She gets pretty real about her journey, and doesn’t shy away from being honest about the present danger in which America finds itself. But it’s never sad. In What Happened, hope eclipses sadness and darkness at every turn. It doesn’t hurt that Senator Clinton is funny as hell, either. Listening to What Happened is like inspiring meditation for all of us who were deeply hurt last November.
So, if Popular Vote Winner Rodham Clinton wants to hit me up for a glass of Chardonnay, just DM me @highwaytochel, bby.
Just realized I keep switching up her name! I guess she just has so many accomplishments that I’m not even sure what to call her!
This list was getting pretty heavy, so I had to turn up the levity to 11.
Matt Bellassai is a national treasure. I first heard of him on Throwing Shade, so I’m a bit of a late adopter, but as soon as I heard him on TSPod, I sought out his podcast Unhappy Hour, which led me to his book, which I scored, again, on Audible. I knew the book would be funny, but I didn’t think it would be laugh-out-loud-like-a-maniac-alone-in-my-car funny. The writing is so, so good. He has such a clear, distinct voice that it’s shocking he’s only my age. It’s so powerful, in fact, that I find myself relating on a deep level to a chubby, sheltered, Midwestern, gay, cis-male child, most of whose adjectives don’t describe me at all! I rarely advocate for audiobook over real book, but hearing Bellassai’s delivery is the icing on the cake.
Amy Sherman-Palladino has blessed us once again! The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which Jen Kirkman consulted on, nbd) is my favorite new show of the year! I’m not even that bitter about the fact that the lead actress, Rachel Brosnahan, is the same age as me!
The MMM tells the story of Midge, a 26-year-old mother of two in 1958, going through a separation following her husband, Joel’s, infidelity. Joel had been fervently pursuing a stand-up career (i.e. plagiarizing one), but it turns out that his wife is the real natural. Coached by Susie, played by the incomparable Alex Borstein, Midge begins to perform, to varying degrees of success. Oh, and Lenny Bruce is a character.
In true ASP fashion, the dialogue is fast-paced, joke dense, and sensational. If there had to be an heir to Gilmore Girls, this is indeed the one. I just watched the series but might start it over and force the huz to watch it with me. 10/10
Is Get Out the best movie I’ve ever seen? Strong possibility. Give Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya and Betty Gabriel all of the Oscars!
I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t know it would be that good. I only just watched Get Out this fall, since I am horror-averse to the extreme, but I already know it will be one of my life-long favorites. Unfortunately, to write pretty much anything about it would spoil the majesty, and for once, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I was shocked, despite waiting months to watch it, and I wouldn’t take that experience away from anyone.
Jordan Peele is a genius. The film is aesthetically gorgeous, socially aware, hilarious, and terrifying. It’s a horror film, and a comedy, and a documentary.
P.S. I had the unique privilege of writing one of my final papers about Get Out, which I’m submitting to conferences!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
If you didn’t like this movie, please eject yourself from planet Earth. I won’t spoil it for anyone (it was spoiled for me by my brother), but it was a joy and a pleasure. I gasped in surprise or glee multiple times, and I got to experience the entire thing sitting between my husband and my best friend—best combo ever. I’d write more about how much it rocked my world, but I’m busy going to see it again.
I finally discovered the true, unadulterated joy that is Hallmark Christmas movies. I watched Christmas in the Air*, which only made me thirst for more**. These things are a bright spot in an increasingly dismal world. Plus, where else will you experience the true joy of a 49-year-old, childless female lead? Hallmark doesn’t even know that it’s feminist!
*I will say, specific to this film, that it espoused one trash value, which is that messiness and imperfection is acceptable. You should have let her clean your office, dude. You’re not a creative genius—you have untreated ADHD.
**There’s an upcoming one starring Candace Cameron Bure and Marilu Henner!
I. Love. St. Vincent. I finally got to see her in concert last month at the House of Blues! I’ve liked her for years, but I have to admit, when she started getting super high concept, starting with Strange Mercy and continuing even stronger with St. Vincent, I really became a superfan. Masseduction doesn’t disappoint for a second—it’s got killer visuals, tight tunes, and her sexiest sound yet. Go purchase this album with human currency!
As if The National could put out a bad album. I’ve been waiting for what seems like decades for new Ntl jams, and finally, my prayers have been answered. Sleep Well Beast is everything I dreamed it would be and more. It has more tech-y, electronic-y moments (please, don’t be intimidated by my vast knowledge of music) than previous releases, but it works. Get on this album, my dudes.
I know. I’m going back on years of hating on T. Swift. I can admit I was wrong! In my hour of darkness she was standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, so let her be.
Reputation is bops for days. I adore it. I’ve listened to it more than the previous 2 albums combined, which severely deducts cool points from my street cred. But I don’t care. I even like “Look What You Made Me Do” which was pretty much universally panned. Highlights are, for sure, “Endgame (feat. Future & Ed Sheeran),” “Ready For It,” and “I Did Something Bad,” but basically every song is great so just go listen to it? T. Swift redeemed.
Guys, I got to actually go to PYHT in Hollywood! It was probably the craziest night of my entire life—maybe I’ll share the story someday—but it was an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. The whole drama is recorded on the podcast, so if you’re a listener, you may know what I’m referring to. It was definitely a…teachable moment.
Cam & Rhea, thanks for being the moms we all need, and being genuinely the warmest and best people I’ve ever met.
My ABM ladies started a natural beauty line! Lipstick, lip gloss, and essential oils, oh my! I am obsessed with clean beauty products (#backonmyhippiebullshit), so these gems were a total godsend. I took advantage of all of the launch and holiday sales, so I, of course, have the full lip collection. They go on smooth, hydrate, last, and bonus: the lip gloss smells like yummy vanilla!