The Animal Inside

So it seems it’s not that easy for two writers to ALWAYS be in sync…especially when life changes and growing pains are pulling in opposite directions. Gratefully, we adore each other (and this blog) enough, to make it work. This week, Melissa found herself feeling a bit out of her skin. Kelly, albeit hesitantly, obliged her request to write about her animagus alter ego and did a little soul searching in the process.


Le chat bleu

I mustered the strength to shake off my incontestable attraction to the brilliant red orb of light glowing directly across from me.

Another message. I was growing tired of this game…But then I read his bio.

My breath caught in my chest as my eyes scanned the words, “Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.” He quoted Murakami. Every inch of my skin now fully alert. Each and every hair standing at attention as goose bumps decidedly made an unannounced appearance (as goose bumps often do). I continued reading, “Hates dogs…” interesting.

Quickly, I plopped down lower into my roller chair, begging my racing heart to get in check. In the monotony of everyday chaos, I caught an unexpected bit of warmth seeping through an icy computer screen, now elevated by an intense swoony heat growing inside me.

As I reach for the mouse, my brain and body beckon, “can I come in?” while I silently pray I didn’t actually say that out loud. I peek over my shoulder to ensure my co-workers haven’t noticed me scanning my dating profile in my cubicle, when my mind slips off to another place…

.::I watch my body as the mutation occurs, transforming one goose bump at a time. My fingertips and palms are replaced by little pads. My fingers shrink down to form fuzzy little paws, and I arch my back to free my long, slender, shiny tail from beneath me. From head-to-toe, my shape is enveloped with soft luxurious fur. Streeeettchhh::…

I begin the ritual by circling his feet and then hop onto his lap, continuing my concentric ceremony while kneading the tops of his thighs with my tiny claws. His hand reaches my back and I let out a long relieving purr. (Did I just purr?) I raise my head and press it under his scruffy chin. A wave of calm flows down my spine. ‘Maybe I’ll stay here for a while’ my mental kitten notes, and I put my head to rest on his knee.::.

Snap out of it Melissa!

I break free from the moment of feline serenity and once again begin to paw at my mouse, regaining my composure, preparing to settle back into the mundane…but there is that little glowing red ball again. Another message.  A few amazing borrowed words and a bit of sexy snark compose a cleverly playful note and I’ve traded in my human form to curl up on the world’s most flawless lap.


I’ve surrendered to my alter-ego, a purring love-hungry kitten with a proclivity for sarcasm and stubble.  I realize that I’ve launched my pin-balling brain into a lucid fantasy world, rendering my earthly body nearly useless but…

Click click click. Send. He calls, and suddenly I’m…weaving between his feet as he walks, my tail wrapping up his leg, marking the hem of his pants with little tufts of fur mementos. You’re welcome.

Click click click. Send. He’s sitting across from me whispering stories of wolves and nightwalkers… my ears knit his voice into colorful balls of yarn that playfully roll around in my head. Swat. Swat. Swat.

I wake the next morning to a glowing light on my phone. I’ve got a message. “Have I told you how much I enjoy your collection of books?”  My heart purrs, sending me into a cat-like-tailspin, where the only remedy is a good scratch behind the ears.

.::I just knew how it would feel too. I could tell by looking at his long spindly fingers that they would know exactly how to push my buttons…those fingers would slowly massage right behind my pointed little ears…



Afternoon Tea No. 8, The Otter

Alright, I’m Skeptical, but I Gave It a Try Because I Love Melissa

When Melissa mentioned that she wanted to write about Spirit Animals, I couldn’t effing believe it.

She made this request only a day after my new roommate had told me a delightful story of how she read her Tinder date’s spirit animal. He was an otter or something.

Two spirit animal remarks in one week? It felt like a sign from…spirits.

I had never, EVER thought about spirit animals, but I’ve thought about spirits and animals, separately. I think of spirits quite frequently, mainly due to my irrational fear of ghosts. And I think it’s safe to say that animals are generally ubiquitous.

So I gave in on what felt like fate, and plopped on my roommates bed as she took out what looked like a card deck ordered out of a Highlights Magazine.

My live-in shrink beckoned me. “Pick a card.”

Now, before this somewhat canned experience, I did try to think of my spirit animal organically, reflecting on what resonated within me. I do love blue whales. But I wouldn’t say we have a spiritual resemblance. Well maybe a physical resemblance when I’m menstrual. I once dressed up as a cougar for Halloween, but that doesn’t say much other than the fact that I can really rock being a ‘confident’ older woman.. I could be one of those neurotic dogs with crazy eyes that look not in the same direction. You know, some sort of alert terrier mutt that can’t sit still and is mildly trained. Most days, that feels right.

But this was my chance to really go out on a limb and discover what fate thought my animal could be.


Turns out fate can be underwhelming.

Sigh. I turned to the handbook to see what otter meant. I had to glean something from it all.

“Surrender. Let go of control,” it began. The first few paragraphs were too vague for my topical-mindedness. But a few sentences did strike a chord: “Letting go of control doesn’t mean giving up…It means opening your hands and heart and accepting the direction of your Spirit.” It also associated the otter with the words Sensuality, Merging, Family, and Playfulness.

Alright folks, you’re probably as skeptical as I am. But really, like some parts of some religions, I like a few of the ideas despite their root in not much. Reading the word “Family” reminded me that I should call my folks, which I think they appreciated. And letting go of control makes sense in my life right now, as I’m learning that New York is as untamable as the waters of Montana De Oro. Was that a San Luis Obispo reference? Yes, yes it was. Also, otters hold hands when they nap. How effing cute is that.

I think my spirit animal is still out there, watching from afar, if only from one of its lazy eyes. To that notion, and to holding hands while napping, I surrender.


(cover image credit:×10-the-baphomet-goat-animal?ref=market)

A Fresh Start

We don’t speak every day. We can’t even call ourselves best friends, but what we are is kindred spirits, and that links us creatively and in life. It’s always a happy gift when our inner artists are met with serendipity. With so many changes happening, it seemed like a natural fit to write about letting go and starting over. What seems almost divine is that we both saw this story through the metaphorical lens of an article of clothing.


Flying Featherless

Some people use lipstick as a symbol of power and femininity. I don’t. I have a pair of sandals that make me feel powerful and badass, in a good way.

They are the ones that I bring out only for special occasions…and by “special occasions” I mean those nights when I am feeling especially scandalous and want to use my wardrobe to express my own recognition of my inner goddess. The sandals that whisper “get on your knees.”

Those sandals are the one thing in my closet that transform me from social media geek-girl to effervescent West Side vixen, oozing confidence in posture and with poise. When I wear them, I never struggle to find the right words, they just flow from my lips in a soft, smoky voice. The earth moves to my mental playlist, and my body along with it. Skin glowing from perfectly pedicured open toe to rosy sun-kissed nose. My hair falls perfectly, just dusting across my face in that slightly seductive way. Those sandals are my magic feather. They make me soar.

When I recognized the version of me I become when I slide the skinny burnt leather strap across my ankle, the inevitable happens. I want more. The feeling is intoxicating.

The weekends come and the need creeps in. Crippled by the scorch of a 50+ hour work week, I crave the release of forgetting who I am for a while…even if I know it can’t last. Even if I knew that with every amazing high comes an incredible crash. It’s worth it.

“Fuck that kind of pessimism! Tonight I will dance. I will glow. I will turn heads.”

And so I do. For as long as I can escape into this world of beautiful things, where, in my mind, I’m the center piece and my amazing beautiful sandals make me believe it is so…

…Until last week, when the buckle snapped and the strap broke off.

I blamed myself for abusing something I should have maybe handled with care. I’d like to say that I didn’t throw a brief tantrum, so I’m going to say that…because this is my blog, and I’ll say what I want to.

I was disappointed. The shoes were a lie. For what I invested, I was only able to stretch my perfect red leather wedges for six amazing weekends. They should have lasted longer.

But nothing lasts forever.

I thought about having them repaired, but realized that I would only fear damaging them further if I were to ever depend on them again.

Sometimes you just have to let go.

After the fit that I didn’t throw, I collected myself and kicked off my now destroyed cork-heeled fantasy-makers. Remembering who I was, just a few weeks before—remembering that a pair of poorly constructed shoes does not a vixen make—I let go of my insecurities and the attachment to the illusion that sexy was the product of an accessory. I slathered my legs and ankles and toes with a shimmery tinted moisturizer, slipped into a little black dress, and hauled ass to the nearest beach bar in a pair of silver Havaianas.

Unlike my useless sandals, the night did not disappoint…my fresh start started with me, flying featherless and more badass than ever.



Blood, Sweaters and Tears

I’m sitting in my room, looking at my open closet and at my empty suitcases, wondering what geometry equation can mathematically fit all of my things on a confined axis within my two free checked bags on my Southwest flight to New York.

After swiveling back and forth from suitcase to closet, I lock in on my favorite striped shirt—one that I’ve had since high school, from the Gap clearance section, that wore when I karaoked to David Bowie last Christmas, that boyfriends have liked, that’s been shoved in my purse as a backup dozens of times in case it got chilly. And I don’t know if I should take it with me, or let someone buy it at the swap meet for fifty cents. Or hell, throw it away.

This should be an easy decision. I’m wasting time going back and forth between feelings and function, taking it out, then hanging it back up, feeling like I owe it an apology for even thinking about trashing it.

I spend days sifting through other things, dropping other shirts and shoes and books into a pile that grows as large as it does meaningless. Most of these things are easy to toss, like uncomplimentary blouses that I assumed my boobs would grow into, or pants that my butt diameter has long surpassed. Others have more of a Michael-Jordan-getting-cut-from-his-high-school-basketball-team thought. Who knows if that sarong from my Hawaiian vacation could make a bold comeback in NYC? Anything’s a possibility.

But the striped shirt hung in my closet, like the soft presence of a spirit, watching me slowly shed a thick layer of myself.


The last time I was truly sad was because of a sweater.

In my rebellious youth I frequented a thrift store in Citrus Heights, California behind the dingy Sunrise Mall where I wasn’t allowed to walk around by myself. The store was falling apart, barely propped in the middle of an empty parking lot where my dad taught me to drive.

This store—affectionately named after an arch angel or something—was an untapped goldmine of the Sacramento suburbs. Ratchety aisles with fringe leather jackets for wearing unironically, children’s novelty shorts, ugly shoes. It was my minimum-wage-earning dream come true.

The found sweater was a soft dark green V-neck. It became my fallback, my go-to, my favorite piece of clothing I’d ever owned, and ever will. It’s been around the world, hugged every friend, and seen Dave Mathews Band one too many times.

Last November it disappeared. At first I denied it even being missing, thinking it would turn up in an unlikely crevice or closet. But after piecing together the events that took place, I became angry, because it didn’t make sense why it was gone. Then came the what-ifs, and the whys, soon followed by a brief period of sadness.

I was going through the 5 Stages Of Grief over a sweater.

But the funny thing about sweaters is that they’re sweaters, and they don’t love you back.

And the funny thing about this sweater is it’s probably in a thrift store right now, or maybe someone is wearing it as a last resort because it’s laundry day, or maybe a homeless person is peeing on it.


The countdown until the move shortens. I make a decision.

The striped shirt smelled. The white armpits were dirtied and starched from layers of deodorant and concerts and body odor. Threads visibly unraveled. The shirt took its last breath a long time ago, and I held onto the corpse. Like how serial killers do that sometimes.

After a long, contemplative goodbye, it was gone.

The difference between the green sweater and the striped shirt was a matter of choice. The loss of a green sweater felt sudden death of a friend, while I dug a grave for the striped shirt over the years. They were different kinds of sadness, but posed the same questions: Where does sentimentality meet rationality? How much should we hold on to nostalgia?

While hoarders may differ in opinion, the self must precede materials. Value is relative and ever-changing. Things run their course of use, just as we run our course over time and experiences.

When we strip ourselves from what we have, we are left with our own essence, and the relationships we have and we’ve made. We are who we are and that’s how we communicate. And I’d rather have better stories than better stuff.

Starting over is a compromise. And that’s OK, because it’s inevitable if you want to grow. It’s OK to let things go, and it’s OK to feel something when they’re gone. In a few years I’ll probably be doing this again, with items I don’t even own yet, and people I have yet to meet. We’d all be sociopaths if we didn’t attach emotions to things.

So what I’m trying to say is I’m not a sociopath.

I’m just moving on.

Trading Coasts: NYC


When I announced I was making the move from San Luis Obispo, California to New York City, I welcomed a mixed bag of reactions with a graceful smile and nod. It seems as though my peers value Oprah’s now semi-outdated opinion that San Luis Obispo is the happiest town in America more than my progressive life goals.

And I get it. San Luis Obispo is a kind and peaceful bubble where many are reluctant to leave and too few are lucky enough to afford to stay; where young women stroll around merrily on bicycles, and young men rite-of-passage themselves by drinking Rolling Rocks like spring water at frattastic frat parties. I’m gonna miss you and your sexist conversation tanks, frat bros. Especially when you wear your “MONEY AND BITCHES” tanks to women’s violence prevention fairs.

So while I’m going to miss my #1 dudes, and all of these other things, I’ve been trolling the web and finding things out about my new home, like how big subway rats are. Aside from the excruciating anxiety from trying to find a place to live by convincing strangers on the Internet that I’m not a crusty leech, I’ve been fist pumping about the thrill of starting a new chapter in the ol’ life book.


Goodbye Big Sur! And thanks Brice for the best GIF ever.

Here’s my list of top excitement points. Have something that I should get excited for? Or shouldn’t? Let it be known in the comment section.


Maybe it’s this Stella video, or maybe it’s this other weird video, but like…pizza.



Adopting an occasional New York accent for certain key phrases like “IM WALKIN HEEEYYA” but slipping in California slurs when I talk about surfing.

Whenever I hang out with distinctly-accented people, I become a colloquial sponge. Sometimes I feel like I have an occasional Chicago accent for no apparent reason, which also makes me mean. And boy oh boy, I can’t wait to accidentally start talking like a New Yorker. Not in a cute way, like a grimy taxi driver kind of way, so that I’m only in accent when I yell.

But when it comes to surfing, and I talk about my 4/3, and my 7’2 single fin, and how I ride shin-high waves in the white water, every consonant is being stretched like a bungee cord. So that *maybe* some cute boy will think, hey, she can say four convincing things about surfing! I think I’ll buy her a basket of bagels.


“Are there bagels in here?”

 Not Running Into Ex Boyfriends Everywhere I Go

5 years in one town of 40,000 and a socially active Kelly means that sometimes Kelly dates people and sometimes they are in the same friend circles and sometimes we all eat dinner together and sometimes I am face punching myself in my head.



Petting Other People’s Dogs

While your dirty mind might take this for a euphemism about peepees, it’s not. The last time I visited New York as a wee 16-year-old, my dear friend Courtney gave pets to cute dogs all around the city. We’re talking like, 15 dog pets per diem. When one bald man with a bulldog said no, she and I stopped petting dogs. Now…NOW…I have the chance to make up for pets lost because of that cruel, cruel man with an asthmatic overweight puppy.

Wearing Turtlenecks For Function

At some point in high school, I bought a Steve Jobs turtleneck at The Gap, and holy shit was it sexy. I’m hoping that my 2014 revisit will have me looking something like this:


Maybe my butt shape will look like that too.

In the spirit of limiting my extraneous thoughts, here’s a list of a few more things that make me feel giddy:

Haircut possibilities

Making strangers be my friends

Growing as a person

Getting into comedy

The heightened possibility of seeing a live person wear Sketchers Shapeups

Public transportation


How my new and exciting life will be perceived via Instagram



When I first learned that Kelly would be continent-hopping over to my former coast, my initial response was a dramatic, Long Island inspired, “WHHHYYYY?!?!” Living on the west coast is easy. You get to see the sun, The weather is perfect, You get to wear sandals, Amazing sushi, fish tacos, In-N-Out, Coffee Bean, surfers, real life Barbie dolls, free beach concerts, year-round tan… IN-N-OUT!

But then I remembered that New York is fucking awesome, and instantly became a bit jealous about all the amazing things she gets to discover for the first time. The list was not easy to narrow down (and knowing me will probably extend into the comments), but here are just a few things I hope she will get to experience, and love as much as I do.


Zoooooom!!! and it’s gone.

A New York Minute—it’s a thing. The most shocking thing about my move to the west was how SLOW everything is. A million things happen in a minute in New York City. Try not to blink. You’ll miss something.

I’m a Hustler—don’t be one. Adjust your hustle to keep up with the locals or you’ll get trampled during the morning and evening rush. New Yorkers can identify a tourist from a mile away just by observing the pace and swagger of their walk. You’ll learn to hate it too, in time.

Hug a Tree—don’t be surprised to see a one by one foot square fenced in with an official city park sign plastered to the front of it. It’s rare to see grass sprouting directly from the earth in the concrete jungle. When you do, you heart it. You heart it hard.

This is really the only time you’ll actually see this…but practice anyway. it’s a good party trick for your friends back home.


Public Transportation—sure, the subways smell, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a bus stop that doesn’t double as a toilet for the homeless, but you can go anywhere, quickly, at any time of day, for under $5. Not to mention there is a world of amazing content to be created and discovered on New Yorks’s public transportation system.

The Open Air—is something we take for granted on the west coast. There’s just so much of it. There are only a few precious months in NYC when the weather is absolutely delicious. Go rooftop bar hopping. Visit the highline. There’s nothing like it.

now THAT’s a food truck!

Foodtopia—forget In N Out and fish tacos. Say hello to Dunkin Donuts, street meat, real pizza, real bagels, and real dirty water hot dogs. Try everything…but just say no to Sbarro. That’s not pizza.

The World is at Your Fingertips—or rather the tips of your toes. NYC is the epitome of a melting pot, and you can walk the world’s countries as easily as you can in Epcot Center (or hop them on the train). China Town, Little Italy, Little Tokyo, Spanish Harlem, Astoria. There’s SOOOO much culture to experience.


Go find your Sam Malone!

Where Everybody Knows Your Name—I’ve been trying to recreate this since moving to LA. You can’t. There is a sense of community in NY that I have yet to experience anywhere else. Once you get in your groove, you’ll start to notice that you see the same people at your train station every day, or at the coffee shop—at your favorite happy hour bars, or in your secret corner of the park. You’ll find yourself easily talking to strangers, because you feel like you know them because you see them every day. You’ll have a “spot” that you feel really belongs to you and people that you know not from high school, and not from work, but just from being around. You’ll miss the train together. You’ll share a cab. You’ll help each other get home after one too many drinks.

And in spite of what everyone says, you’ll be surprised to find that New Yorkers are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. I couldn’t be more excited for you.


In spite of a 10 year difference, we often find that our emotional calendars are ironically synced. Maybe it’s a Virgo thing. This week we both learn a valuable lesson in humility, feather preening, the power of accessories, and letting your freak flag fly.


Even Peacocks Get the Blues

Some nights, your feathers are bright. Full of color. Shiny and metallic. Others, they’re falling out, trailing behind you like toilet paper stuck to your shoe.

You go out with the intention of attracting attention, then nothing happens. No winks, no gesticulations, no creeps rubbin’ their peepees on your butt (on second thought, not really a bad thing). The DJ won’t stop playing Li’l John, no matter how much you scold him and irritably recommend changing the music. Everyone’s body heat melts your eyeliner into droopy raccoon rings. You feel kinda fat. This might have been a better night spent watching Netflix documentaries, preening your feathers in the dark.


Then, there are the nights when everything is working in your favor. You feel like Stevie Nicks as you graze your (thin, toned) arms in the dim dance floor lighting. Your hair looks voluminous and carefree from certain angles. Payday was three days ago, and that bra is giving your tits like, the perfect shape.

“Tonight’s my night,” I thought as I threw on my turquoise blouse that’s long enough to conceal my thigh sacks. I grabbed my phone and headed to the mirror to primp my eyelashes, checking my Women’s Log period tracker. Mid-cycle and three flower emoticons meant it was ovulation time. Skin aglow, the pheromones were practically spilling out of my pores. God dammit, tonight is my night.


My friends and I hit the ‘club,’ and we danced like nobody was looking to get laid. Wearing sunglasses indoors, whipping out odd dance moves like we were at a Moby concert, we proudly owned the night.

“I am an American douchebag!” I thought, tilting my head back, cackling loudly.

There I was, pumping my fists, trotting around in my gold high heel sneakers like some sort of royal idiot, winking at strangers. After jiggling my way through some hot tracks, pop-locking like I was that little girl from the Missy Elliot music videos, two lovely petite blonde women notice my sexual prowess and magnetic confidence. “Bring on the compliments, ladies!” I thought as they politely tapped my shoulder.


“Do you know who Lena Dunham is?” one asks.

“YA!” I yell.

“You look exactly like her!” they shout.


“But we mean that in the best possible way.”

My beautiful feathers slowly plucked themselves out as I thanked them and hunched over to the wall.

I removed my fake neon Ray Bans, then looked out at the dance floor which now seemed so sweaty; so uninteresting. I felt disconnected from the moment that I was so deep inside of. I went from hot to homely in 10 seconds. Cheeky to chunky. Sexy to stout.

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 10.58.25 PM

What kind of a compliment was that, anyway? Were the women referencing episode 3 of season 2 where Hannah (Dunham’s character) does a bunch of cocaine and club-dances in a neon fishnet tanktop with no bra? Which could mean, “Wow, you’re as reckless a TV character on a bunch of coke, and you’re only two beers deep.” Was I being an episode 3 girl?

Or maybe it was a weight thing. I’d been hitting up the Women’s Gym like it was a booty call. For a moment I felt unsure about my appearance, which is something that only happens when I’m out-of-my-mind menstrual.

Don’t get me wrong – Lena Dunham is an incredible woman, a role model I’m inspired by and hope to meet, ideally on purpose rather than in a fangirl situation. Girls means a lot to me, and I know how much that makes me sound like a millennial, but it’s my truth.

After dissecting their remark, I realized that I’d created a backhanded compliment in my mind. The women were being sincere, and clearly I reminded them of someone they admired. And hey, if it’s an appearance thing, that just means more to love, right? RIGHT?

At that point, I made a b-line for the bar, drained a shot of tequila, and moonwalked back into the middle of the dance floor, acting like it was me in episode 3.




Sexy Scales and the Men who Love Them

I spent the weekend nursing my newly formed dragon scales. It seems that my Khal Drogo fantasies somehow got lost in translation—instead of Mother of Dragons I have become an actual Mother Effing Dragon. While I wish that was just a metaphor, the boys really seem to like it.



Last Tuesday, after driving 4 hours to our West Coast headquarters, Kelly toted a half-panicked Me with a half-sweating body and a half-twitching face to urgent care. This was a stroke. It had to be a stroke. What else would cause this kind of hysteria across one side of my face?

It wasn’t a stroke (knock on wood), but it was Shingles. WTF is shingles you may ask?

It’s the trendy disease. Thanks to Netflix and DVR, I missed the slew of commercials warning the ELDERLY to get vaccinated for this common form of herpes (a gift from having the chickenpox)…which I, at 32, got on my FACE.

To be clear, this looks nothing like the little cute itchy red speckled chickenpox you may have experienced as a child. These bitches pick a corner of your body and populate it, along a nerve, with blisters that fill with fluid, then crust over, and fill with blood. What happens with blood blisters? Scabs. All over the right side of my face, and it hurts. Now I know how Quasimodo felt.


But there was none to be found.

Convinced that this is some cruel punishment for my #selfie obsession, I hid my scaly face as best I could through the rest of the week and weekend:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetBaseball cap….check!
Sun glasses….check!
Dark clothes….check!

SUCCESS! Taking my cues from Memoirs of an Invisible Man, I was virtually faceless, but the universe is cruel sometimes. It turns out an obscured face wandering the streets of Los Angeles elevates you to potential movie star status. Of course this is the weekend that every cute guy in my complex decides to speak to shady old me.
Are my gleaming glossy scales a siren call to single men everywhere?

I avoided eye-contact when a beachy blonde Australian stopped me to ask my opinion of living in my complex. I kept the brim of my cap pulled low when a fluffy white puppy belonging to a chiseled bronze demi-god started hopping around on my lounge chair. Shit shit shit. Oh, hello shirtless surfer guy clicking away at your computer. No. No. Don’t look up. Keep plugging away. FUCK!

Really, who needs peacock feathers when you can have scales! I am a woman of mystery with universal appeal. While these wretched pox were unavoidable, they were also intoxicating and irresistible. Maybe…maybe…this puppy wielding sweatpants wearing apartment-dweller is the Khal Drogo of my world and my prayers really have been answered!


The wretched things are nearly gone, and as they flake away, so does the (unwanted) attention. Sigh. Now I’m left here, freshly preened and alone, wondering what my next gruesome germ-filled adventure might be.


Annnd we’re back! Sometimes life takes over and leaves you in a position to prioritize. For the last few weeks, work has grabbed hold of the both of us, and likewise, we found refuge at the gym. As new members at our respective areas of exercise, we each encountered some version of personal empowerment and unsolicited support.



I’ve never enjoyed going to the gym—a distaste that began as a young girl routinely picked last for kickball. Sacrificing recess to sing in the chorus, I was always more of an “artist” anyway…but alas, my young body would eventually change and, with puberty, my voice training and physical training weren’t interchangeable.

In my 20’s, working out was no longer avoidable. Because I wasted my compulsory gym hour in high school, and my free-form schedule during college (dancing on bars counts, right?), I would have to teach myself good habits. I had to opt in, both mentally and physically.


I tried a string of gym formats, including the women’s gym—where I was yoga-molested mid-class by my spandex-wearing male instructor–but nothing stuck. Maybe it was that early gym-class rejection or the touchy-feely yogi that made me feel vulnerable.

Fast forward a few years, and a relocation from NY to LA, add in the sedentary LA lifestyle where a mid-day hustle is replaced by a car ride up the block, and I can no longer fit into my jeans. I can’t blame puberty or the freshman fifteen anymore.


I just moved into an apartment complex with a free gym (SCORE!) leaving me 0 excuses for not getting back down to pre-In-N-Out weight. I had a girlfriend get me started and amazing personal trainer-turned-life coach convince me that I’m not trying to impress anyone and just getting my ass there is enough. Hell yeah! I’M GOING TO THE GYM!

But a success story this is not!

Month two and I’m feeling good about myself. I’ve mastered my best “don’t talk to me” face, I’ve figured out a routine, and I’ve created the perfect cardio/weights playlist. I’ve also discovered that 9pm is the magic hour, as the gym is practically deserted.

That didn’t last. I was approached late one Friday night.

While crunching my legs on the chair-leg-raiser machine, I was interrupted by a light touch on my arm. A man stacking approximately 4 feet 10 inches stood before me explaining that I was using the machine improperly. I took in this scene, still in shock at the physically touch of a silk-skinned stranger, when I noticed his 2-sizes-too-big jeans, cinched at the waist by a leather belt. I noticed the wrinkles around his eyes and on his fingers and recognized the familiarity of his touch was that of my grandmother. I was till absorbing as he told me about a 20-minute workout that would have me “toned in no time!” He offered to teach me how to work out. 😐


I was mentally at war. One side of me thinking, “Please leave me the fuck alone,” the other thinking “Aw, if my grandma was at the gym, she’d touch/talk to strangers. I’d want someone to be nice to her.” So I let the conversation go as he weaseled personal details out of me. I let it go as he insisted that we be gym buddies and suggested I put his number in my phone. I followed his instruction as he told me to dial him now so he’d have my number too. I also let it go when he rubbed his hand up my arm, the arm I was pretty proud of, telling me he can teach me how to tone 😦

He pick-up artist-ed me. Big old grown up me got swindled by an old man at the gym. Even in his old age, he was able to take advantage of my stupid vulnerability. I growled at my personal disappointment as I walked home that night. At least the call didn’t go through.

Wrong. 11:30 pm, the texts start coming.




“Ode to Women’s Gym”

Fat shorts from the Nike outlet: check.

Thanksgiving 5K walk t-shirt: check.

Inspirational rap playlist: check.

Racing through my mental checklist, I Tokyo-drift my Honda Civic into the Vons parking lot, park abruptly and speedwalk into my personal heaven that is the Women’s Gym.

I triumphantly greet the receptionist and sales woman who roped me into a membership (you saved me, Linda), breeze past women air punching their problems in Body Attack, and others using their newborns as weights (really, it’s a thing!). I enter the locker room full of half-dressed elderlies who confidently don’t care about anything. I can’t wait to be that happy to hang out in my underpants.


Emerging from the locker room, I look around at my fellow women, baggy t-shirts and stretch pants abounding, and I know that these are my people. My ladies. We’re in an oasis void of seniors who have ‘committed their retirement to triathlons’ and meatheads who’s body grease is either gallons of sweat, or literally, grease. I spent years working as a pool manager at an unprogressive Family Fitness center, wasting a majority of the summer getting sun chaffed and teaching toddlers how to float. I miss nothing about the tea tree air cloud of the sauna hallway, nothing about the weight room that had more mirrors than a fun house.

The women’s gym is a haven where patrons come to trim the for-sale-sign arm flab into a tight Rolodex, thus continuing the collective goal of all women to animorph into Michelle Obama. We wear what we want. Heck, I saw a woman wearing jeans today. Jeans! Let’s face it; black stretchy workout pants are makeup for your thigh sacks. And you know what the Women’s Gym says? Let it all hang out.


Getting home after a workday is synonymous with being blacked out; if work is alcohol, finally getting home is the sixth Irish Car Bomb. As long as the Women’s Gym sits strategically in the Von’s strip mall on my route home from work, I’ll still fit in my freshman year of college pants.

When I Hear the Song “Sexual Healing”…


The floor falls out from under my sandals, which I actively chose to wear, and I land (thump!) on a soft, burgundy shag rug surrounded by dark wood walls.

Get up, get up, get up, get up. Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up.

Disoriented, I rub my eyes (Where are my Persols?) and snort-cough as I inhale a thick cloud of incense. Do I have an eye prescription anymore? Where are my sandals? Did a sphinx just run by? Are there snacks? I shake my head awake in confusion, but my dainty thin hair no longer wisps carelessly through the air as if it’s on the brink of falling out. I touch it in disbelief, as it, in afro, now spans for what seems like acres.


I rise, no longer in cut off jorts, but in a velvet green bell-bottom jumpsuit. My drug dealer boyfriend (totally sober though) Tim Meadows beckons me to the couch. I soul train dance over to his side, resting my fake nails on his airy cloud of chest hair, grab his silk shirt collar, and beckon him to the dance floor. A group of people dance into the room. One guy even starts breakdancing, like, right away. I spot Will Smith across the room, who shoulder-shrug points at me with an approving smile. I wink dramatically.

Suddenly everything’s alright. Mainly because of my jumpsuit. I’m also terrific at dancing.

Click here for an extended party playlist!



If I’m ever truly in the mood to barf, I’ll put on Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing.

Get up. Get up. Get up. Let’s make love tonight.

And then that synthy tempo comes on, odd unnatural pops and ticks, reminiscent of what I viewed as the coolest sound my Casio keyboard could make circa 1992. Suddenly I’m unwillingly whisked away to a time when I was just learning about love.

A twelve year old Melissa sits in the back seat of her mother’s car, bickering with her little sister, when Marvin comes on the stereo and the two of us get completely silent—giggling occasionally at the uninhibited use of the word “sexual” in a song.  My mom’s boyfriend starts crooning along, and reaches over affectionately to grab her hand. Their eyes meet briefly. My sister and I look at each other, our faces turn a pale shade of green at this open exhibition of lurve.


“CHANGE IT!” we shout, trapped in our seat belts as we cruise down the highway. It won’t go away. It won’t stop. And now, the song will forever remind me that my mother is a sexual being.

Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. It’s just a fact I would have to face some time, so it might as well be part of the soundtrack of my life.

20 years later it still burns. Sometimes one tiny memory can cause a life-long impact, especially when it is linked to a song. To combat the cringe I may have just induced, here is my playlist of feel good memories:

Happy Memories

A Throne of Roses for One Direction

Sometimes…you just need to tell the world how you feel—through writing! And a Youtube video!




That was Kelly’s response when I told her last week that I was in love with One Direction. I don’t know how it happened, or where it came from, but I admittedly suffered (am suffering) from an unmatched and unrequited affection for a quintet of crooning school boys.

It’s cougar time synergy (that 90’s reference courtesy of Jem).

HOLD UP. Too young for “cougar” status, but too old for Zayne to tickle my fancy. Could I possibly be alone in this misguided obsession?

Like most things I hold dear, I shamelessly touted my adoration across social channels in the form of YouTube links, lyrics quotes, and textual declarations of love. #storyofmylife. Rather than being met with ridicule, I was greeted with compassion from commiserating 30-somethings happy to partake in an ooze-fest of shared boy-band fandom. Co-workers were eager to share links of their favorite One Direction shenanigan-packed music videos. Facebook friends were finishing the lyrics of songs I was quoting in posts.

One Direction got me in touch with my inner 13 year old, and when she came out to play, she found the playground waiting for her, and her friends were all there. I feel like Britney Spears in the middle of her “not a girl, not yet a woman” conundrum. I am clearly not the target—as I do know I am beautiful (in my own way), and THAT outlandish confidence is exactly what makes me beautiful—yet I can’t seem to shake my brazen desire to watch them, mouth agape, drool slowly seeping between the space bar and the “B” key.

I’m entitled. For that, I instantly declared that Harry Styles deserves a throne of roses in the form of a dreamy-eyed fan-girl diary entry on our blog…and so I am giving him one, because I know Kelly won’t.

In sharing my daily One Direction fix with Kelly each day this week, I realized that, while she humored me, she did not share my enthusiasm.

What’s wrong with you Kelleh?!? You’re 23. Shouldn’t this be your thing…and not mine?

Then I thought back to the days of the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and 98 Degrees, when I was a high schooler of proper swooning age, mimicking their crafty hip-sway-step-sway-thrust dance moves in the privacy of my mother’s living room (oh, if she could see me in my own living room now). Once college happened, real boys happened and boy bands felt like childish things. I traded bleached-blonde tips and perfectly chiseled waxed chests for the likes of girly downers like Mazzy Star, Fiona Apple and Bic Runga.

The boy band nearly disappeared for me. Kelly must just be going through some in-between-too-cool-to-care phase now too—one that required me to explain to her exactly who Harry is and why he is deserving of her undivided attention. Who can resist Zayne, Harry, Louis, Liam and Niall? They’re just so playful…like cute little hamsters bouncing around in a little YouTube box.

So here I am, at the intersection of walk and don’t walk, and yet…there’s only…ONE DIRECTION.



Dear Melissa,

I’d like to be the first to say: Congratulations on your youthful renaissance! It takes guts to post to the world about your boy band obsession. Some would call this ‘creepy’ or ‘pathetic’. I would call it an enlightenment! Like you wrote, I didn’t lend a proper ear to your cries of love and squeals of emotional bliss. But I know love when I see it. Consider your rose throne granted!

I mean, of course Harry is the one for you. Did you know that you two are both born in the year of the rooster, only, like, 13 years a part? The stars are aligned, Melissa.

Now, let me debunk any hesitations you may have about your feelings (which, based on your outward and unrequited love, you don’t have), But for one, you are not a cougar. Cougars are at least 46, have about nine tattoos (one of which must be a frontal tramp stamp that says something like, “Daddy Like” or has pictures of hummingbirds everywhere) and cougars missed the generally accepted social cue that perms are no longer a thing.

I was a cougar once. It was 2010. I was 19 in need of a Halloween costume that would make the sluts say, “Is she our age?” And make the boys say, “Did I see that lady asking for change outside Albertsons?” I curled and teased my thin hair into an electric explosion, dumped on blue eye shadow, bought black heels at the Good Will outlet, wore an ill-fitting cheetah print tank top, and topped it off with Rite Aid fake nails. It was truly great!

Where was I going with that? I digress. So what’s it like hanging out with 13-year-old Melissa? Have you been wearing more scrunchies and stretchy shorts? My 13-year-old self would never hang out with me. She’d be too preoccupied playing The Sims and kissing her Lance Bass poster. And style tips are out of the question. 13-year-old Kelly was all about slicking her hair back tight enough to reveal her receding hairline. That and wearing huge sweatshirts. We couldn’t even bond over fun high school things like puberty and cargo jackets. We’d have an awful time. No member of One Direction—not Harry, Lars, Neil, Zack Efron or Zayne would want to hang out me. Not then, not now.

But you plus Harry equals a match made by cosmic fate. Surf the double-barrel overhead tubes that are his man-made ringlets. Laugh as you share hair products and foundation cream. Sing softly into each others’ face until your voices run hoarse.

Well, in your courtship, I wish you the best. You’ve broken down “age barriers” in the name of love, and helped me realize that I can too fall harmoniously back in love with my one and only…Lance Bass.

…Uhm…Ohp. Neverrrrmind.

Getting Hired

We’re not in the thick of an economic crisis, but being at entry-level sure feels like it. Jobs are sparse. You keep getting rejected. Here are our failures and accomplishments at entry-level; keep the insight going and share your stories in the comments. Because let’s face it—we could all use some help at 22.



No soothsayer can predict the sequence of events that will lead you to your first job.

Not the Wizard of Oz, not the fortune teller from that one Simpsons episode, not Zoltar, not your career counselor.

“Beware the ides of March” was coincidentally fitting  for me—almost a year ago, on March 11, I ditched my post-grad-dick-around-circus for a ‘career’—you know, the real kind. I felt odd describing it as a ‘real job’ to my grocery store coworkers. Some, like me, said, ‘Good for you! Get the hell out of here!” And others looked at me puzzled—offended, really—inquiring, “What do you mean real?”

Truthfully, the transition from grocer to careerist was hard. I gave up having weekdays to do things. And swearing at work. And not showering every day. And free cheese samples. But shelving my brainpower left me too much time to craft a perfect bagel sandwich and not enough time to write. So I stopped. I just…hung out. A lot. And after almost a quarter-century of pre-scheduled learning, it felt wonderful.

That’s not to say I wasn’t looking for something more serious. I would spend at least two hours a day on the job hunt, hurling 30 different versions of the same cover letter across the San Francisco Bay Area, my chosen land of opportunity. Nothing took, and I gave up.

So while the sequence of events that led me to getting hired a year ago was based on a preexisting relationship with a former boss (she sent me a Facebook message one day encouraging me to apply), I picked up a few pointers from my time interviewing at flash sale companies, ‘eclectic’ marketing groups, websites for Ebay collectors and Silicon Valley micro-startups.

First: don’t get discouraged. Most of my friends spent over six months looking for something—anything—whether or not it was in their field. And that’s OK, because society has granted us leeway to be the ringmaster of our own circus in our 20s, so that when we hit 30, we have a decent understanding of what we actually want.

That being said, you’ll probably apply for jobs that you’re not qualified for. I think I sent out a pompous, self-glorifying cover letter to Mountain Hardware for a social media position that I was at least five years away from being qualified for. No matter how you twist their job requirements (2-3 years of internship experience is the same thing, right?), you’ll get weeded. If entry-level’s in the title, that’s your green light.

Also, contracting jobs are a great place to start—the company gets to test you out, and you’ll get to see what it’s like to work 40+ hours a week—not as a lifeguard at the community pool, but as a real person! See? There I go again.

And when you’ve scoured every inch of Craigslist and had enough of checking Missed Connections in your downtime, hit up your network. Contact professors, friends, friends of parents and past employers. You’ll never know who has an opportunity that suits your level (or lack) of expertise.

So when you finally land an interview, please do me the favor of researching the company. I had the opportunity to work for a design magazine last summer, and blew it when the editor-in-chief asked me my favorite and least favorite things about the magazine, expecting me to dissect the last years’ worth of printed issues with tactical and scholarly feedback. Note to everyone: bullshitting your way through questions like these will make you look like an idiot. If you’re not sure or prepared, politely state so and save yourself a weeks’ worth of eye twitches and anxiety bowel issues.

Julias Caesar said that experience is the teacher of all things. At entry-level, you’re shit outta luck. But keep trying. If you’re confident, prepared and eager, you’re already halfway there.



I remember applying for my first entry level position. It was back in 2003. Post 9-11, even with my double major in psychology/sociology and superior understanding of Microsoft Office suite, it felt near impossible to compete with corporate veterans also vying for a simple 9-5 in Manhattan. I spent my graduation money on the finest power suit the juniors department of JC Penney offered. I wasted my days searching and scanning the local Pennysaver ads for leads. Getting an in-person felt like a tremendous feat in itself, but interviewing was worse than reading my personal vagina monologue in front of my creative writing class sophomore year.

If I knew then what I know now…

Having been the first in my family to get a college degree, I didn’t know many people in the white collar world. This was before and Wikipedia, making Job Interviews for Dummies my greatest resource. I had to learn from experience.

Fast forward ten years later, and you’re in a much better position, and more so, now having had experience both interviewing and hiring for entry-level jobs, I can share with you what I’ve learned.

1-Your Resume

My first resume was fancy. Fancy as in full-on curly serif font with colorful decorative bullets. I was trying too hard. Don’t do this. Your resume should be polished and clean, with good punctuation, short clear bullets and a simple font.

What we’re really looking at—before even reviewing your experience— is your cover letter.

Invest in your cover letter. Combined with your resume, this is the first writing sample you will provide your new employer. Even if you’re not after a writing-heavy position, good communication is important in all aspects of business. You will be surprised how many communications you will be writing each day in the corporate world. If you’ve got spelling errors, poor sentence structure or irrelevant information in your cover letter (or if it seems pretentious or made up), your resume will most likely not make it past a recruiters inbox.


The best thing you can do to prepare is simply to do your research, and with social networks and sites like, it’s far easier today to get the scoop on your future employer than it was when I was just starting out. Invest a bit of time in reading up on company culture. Look up your interviewers on LinkedIn. Maybe you know somebody who knows somebody who can tell you a little bit about the company/people you will be meeting with. Knowing the playing field will not only give you a bit of an advantage regarding common interests and conversation topics, but it will also put you a bit at ease knowing what to expect before you walk in the door.

Should you wear a suit? If you’re unsure, dress up. You will never lose points for putting in the extra effort. Like your resume, keep it clean and polished. You want your interviewer to remember what you said, not what you wore (or your lipstick).

3-Use Your Relationships

It certainly helps to know someone on the inside, so take advantage of your connections. Tap past internships or even your parents’ friends for a lead. Those relationships may not get you the job, but can help you fine tune your resume for the job you’re after, and give you the scoop on the company you’re after. An insider can also help get your resume through the first-round sift.

Having someone pass your resume along serves as an endorsement, so keep in mind that if this is your foot in the door, you should be prepared to repay that endorsement with solid work, should you score the job.


Probably the most important thing for me, when meeting a potential hire for my team, is chemistry. I want to know if you’re a good fit for both the team and for our company culture. Can you roll with the punches? What makes you flinch? What gets you energized? While having a good skill set may get your resume through, what will score you the position is chemistry.

As your manager, I will train you and teach you your job. I will show you everything you need to know to be successful, because that’s my job. Your job is to be a sponge, take the knowledge I impart on you and take it a step further—knock it out of the park. After being in the workforce for years, you can sniff that kind of ambition out in an interview. I’ll be watching for what makes you tick, what gets you excited, and what makes you lose interest.

5-Social Networks

Clean up your social networks. Run a google search and see what shows up on the first page. Check out the image search. Invest some time in your LinkedIn. I’m going to look you up, and I’m going to cross reference your resume and experience with what I learn about you online.

Some other quick tips:

  • Load your online resume with keywords—this will help you come up in more recruiter searches.
  • Make eye contact in your interviews—eye contact is a sign of confidence.
  • Be relentless, but don’t overstep—follow up on your resume, but don’t friend your interviewer on Facebook.
  • Ask good questions—ask about culture, about which teams your role would interface with. Asking questions shows that you are interested and engaged.
  • An interview is an opportunity to get to know more people. Even if you miss out on the position, that doesn’t mean the door is closed.
  • Know that you don’t know everything, and you’re not expected to.
  • Don’t be turned off by skype interviews. They’re common and painless. Just make sure you put on a good shirt and you’re sitting up straight—oh, and lock the cats in the bathroom before you hit connect!

Sick at Work

Being sick is the worst. Drown with us in the struggles of sniffles as we express ourselves through the use of GIFs. And this video.



Last week was hell. My brain seemed to have forged a sinful pact with my respiratory system — “If you quit, I’ll quit.” And so it was done.


I haven’t had to take antibiotics since moving to LA. One of the simple “facts of life” in New York:  winters are hard. With hard winters come fatigue, immune system depletion and lots and lots of germs looking for a warm home to set up shop and pedal devilish wares to unsuspecting body cells.


I’m not going to pretend that being sick is any worse for me than it is for anyone. I have 30 years of shitty winters under my belt so this should have been a cake walk. But it wasn’t…


For two weeks of misery, all I wanted was my mommy. I’m the needy kind of sick:

  • I’m the kind of patient who likes cuddles. I’ll knot myself around you and spread my germs all over your pillow.
  • I don’t like to be left alone, and I don’t like to just rest…I’ll get out of bed, do a lap around the apartment, fall asleep again on the couch until 2, then wake up desperately needing to just.get.out.
  • Watch a Girls marathon with me and commiserate as I mourn my lost youth in between coughs and nose blows?
  • I bobbed and weaved around my boyfriend’s dodging arms just because his cool skin felt amazing against my burning forehead.
  • Instead of sick days, I worked from home to keep busy. One bad decision leading to two couch-bound weekends.


Luckily I wasn’t contagious.

On the days that I just couldn’t sit on the couch any longer, I’d haul ass into the office. I was disgusting. In spite of my mucusy mess of spewy nastiness, I kept reminding myself that this weakened state was part of my lifestyle just a few years ago. It was commonplace and expected that a working New Yorker would brave the grimy germ-infested subway to show face in the office unless on your deathbed.


Maybe the easy-breezy life has gotten the best of me?



A fail-safe, quick and easy way to procure a personal deadline crisis: have a man sneeze near your open mouth in an airport.


If you’re familiar with jobs, or work for that matter, you know that some deadlines can’t be pushed, even when a stranger sneezes at the same time you’re inhaling, thus transferring an incurable, devastating, classic cold.

Two days later. I’m sitting at my computer, wishing my core-strengthening exercise ball chair was a love sac and I was covered in a blanket made of cats.


After forcing myself out of bed, I made a pour over using expensive small-batch craft-roasted coffee and can’t taste it.


My skin pigment is that of someone with little to no melanin. My eyes burn with puffy rims the color of Red Skittles. I just want to throw everything off my desk and sob.


And I’m on a very important deadline.


Everyy 5-7 minutes, I’m interrupted by the cycle of sneezes, which happens as follows:

1) Make the sneezy face for 15 seconds, and inhale and exhale dramatically whilst my watery eyes bulge out of my face

2) ‘Cute’ sneeze so nobody thinks I’m disgusting.

3) Wipe my hands on my jeans.

4) Walk to the bathroom to wash my hands.

5) Come back, get a little work done, and relive the process minutes later.


What I have to do: finish my work with excellence.


What I want to do: Nyquil the day away.


Lesson learned: wear a face mask at the airport.


On Lipstick


We wanted to find a name for the blog that somehow encompassed us as a pair – two women at different stages in life, but who would totally dance side-by-side at a Grouplove concert. After a few Jane Austen plays on words, and even a clever reference to the movie Big, we landed on The Lipstick Controversy. You’ll see why.



The first time I wore lipstick without feeling like a hooker was a few months ago.

In my youth, I followed the natural progression of makeup failures: sappy lip gloss and glittery eyelids in middle school, spider-leg mascara in high school, and eyeliner thickening every day I got closer to getting my driver’s license. A sigh of relief likely hit my mother when I cleaned up in college, occasionally wearing a tasteful hint of eyeliner for a soiree, or some Cover Girl foundation to lessen my chin acne.

But lipstick was always a challenge – it had always been a historical signature of career women so far from my reality. If anything, my college friends and I would have made lip stain out of beet juice and then denounce it because Dead Heads don’t wear makeup. But now and then, I tried, painting it on and then viciously rubbing it off, turning my mouth into what looked like an oral herpes outbreak disaster zone. Following my lip line was like trying to color inside the lines while wearing a Band aid. Impossible.

So back in September, when I finally found a shade of burgundy that made my lips as dark as an eggplant, something felt different. As a woman who doesn’t wear too much makeup, lipstick had always felt like wearing a self-adhesive scarlet letter – as if my lip color somehow manipulated the words I was saying, or said something false about my identity. Like I had a visible reason to be judged.

But this shade finally felt right. I wasn’t a clown. I didn’t look like I just got caught under the mistletoe with the Kool Aid man. I felt confident. A little more sure of myself. Sassy.

I understood lipstick. And I loved it.

After college, you re-enter life at entry-level. It’s like being a high school freshman with less rules. Every minute is open season for failures and opportunities, not just from the hours of 8-3. So when you’re back at the bottom after climbing the social totem pole for eight years, having a little something—anything—that makes you feel a little more secure can’t hurt.

At work, I’ve been fortunate to work alongside ladies who sport careful shades of red for reasons of professionalism and creativity (and maybe to be a total badass). The rosy-lipped career woman I felt so distant from as a teen was now my stylish, confident colleague. She is now, effectively, me.

Lipstick doesn’t make you Superwoman, but hey, sometimes it feels like it does. And I say: roll with it.



I hate lipstick.

That’s a bit harsh and not entirely true. I harbor far less hatred for the actual product than I do for its thematic existence in my life. 10 years of professional experience has named lipstick the “Dumbo’s magic feather” of women in the work place.

Let me preface with the fact that I’ve always worked for women—very strong and successful one’s at that—so the continuing resurgence of lipstick as a professional tool is disappointing.

This topic instantly brings to mind a scene from Mad Men during which Joan and Peggy participate in a focus group for the new Avon account. Aware a team of men is watching through one-way glass, Joan seductively bends and curves in a tight-fitting red dress while naïve and lipstick-less Peggy innocently drops her ideas into the hands of the account execs.

During the scene, this dialogue occurs:

“They’re brainstorming.”

Laughing, “I wouldn’t expect more than a few sprinkles.”

Another manager, while watching women apply their lipstick through the glass, asks the room, “Anyone mind if I take off my pants?”


1. Lipstick was part of my uniform.

In true Mad Men fashion, my first job was at the front desk of a high-end fashion brand in NYC. I wrangled celebrities, helped set up the showroom, kept appointments with fashion writers and stylists and my uniform was the product (which I could never afford on my salary)—every girl’s dream right? Not mine.

I had just graduated with a double major in psychology and sociology focusing on gender and sexuality studies. So, you can imagine how a 21-year-old “feminist” from Long Island took it when she was told on by her FEMALE boss that she looked like shit and should go put on lipstick. In one of my prouder moments, in only the second week of my professional career, I gathered all my nerve and my belongings and did something I only wish I had the audacity to in the years that followed. I walked out.

2. Lipstick makes me feel powerful.

…Actual words spoken to me by another boss from positions past—the same woman who would insist that I button my dress shirts up to my neck. Enter my Dumbo’s magic feather theory.

I’m fully aware that this statement may brandish a rash of hateful comments, but lipstick, to me, does the complete opposite in the work place. It brings on the kind of attention I don’t want. The purpose of lipstick is to draw attention to the lips—a very sexual part of the body—and a slathering of Brandy Wine before a meeting begs your audience to focus more on your mouth than the value of your words.

Yes. Put yourself together before a presentation. Have a personal ego-amplifier; it’s totally the way to go. But, I can’t help but wonder if she would feel the same way about her lipstick if we didn’t work in a male dominated industry often referred to as a “boy’s club.” Perhaps men expect more than few sprinkles out of a woman’s mouth if said mouth is wearing Revlon Rum Raisin (that one’s all yours Don Draper).

3. And always wear lipstick.

I’ve heard this from women—strong women whom I admire—more times than I’d like to admit. Why oh why, oh rouge colored tube of feminine mouth stain, do you haunt me so!?! What is it about lipstick that seems to make these women feel so empowered?

I think, “always speak clearly, look your audience in the eye, don’t say uhm, and don’t bite your nails in a meeting” would be better advice to professional women today. Mastering those tiny skills has made me feel stronger and more confident than any beauty product ever could.

If you didn’t click the link above, that fondly recalled scene from Mad Men concludes with Peggy serving up a trash basket full of tissues, naming it a “basket full of kisses” and winning the account. No magic feather needed.