Friday, April 30, 2010

Life With a 7-year-old Fashionista

My daughter, Violet, is totally obsessed with her clothes. If she doesn't like what she is wearing she is prone to histrionics. And what garments does Violet favor? Don't ask me. It's an ever-changing, unmeasurable, unknowable quantity. Her favorite color is pink one day and black the next. I truly believe she is a future fashion editor.

Getting ready for the bus is a special experience. I allow her the freedom to choose whatever outfit she wants, but I would like her to dress for the weather. She often appears wearing a miniskirt, jeweled gold sandals and a tank top when it is 34 with the wind chill. And mommy don't play that.

I think this is inborn. I have never truly been a fashion person, though I love fashion, edited a fashion magazine and have been to fashion week in Paris twice. That was pretty sweet. These days, my style is 80 percent suburban housewife (corduroys and cardigans), with a splash of aging hipster (crazy glasses) and a dollop of "Mommy Drinks" (my ancient leopardskin coat, which you'll pry from my cold, dead hands). So she's not getting it from me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Magic 8 Ball Movie Soundtrack Idea!

They are making a movie about the Magic 8 Ball. When I was in Chia Pet, we had a song about the Magic 8 ball, called "Fuck You, You Stupid 8 Ball." (If I were to record it now, I'd make a family friendly version and call it "Jeepers, Magic 8 Ball.") I wrote it about an ex-boyfriend, of course. The reason I'm bringing it up: you think they would use the song in their movie? I know that other bands have songs about the 8 Ball. For example, Less Than Jake have an 8 Ball song, and they also make ample use of the word "fuck" in their song . (Listen to their song here). I have a demo of our song, but I can't figure out how to put it on here. Who can help me? It's previously unreleased! It's an exclusive!

He called me up today
Said he dreamed about me last night
We were talking on the phone
And water poured in his window

(Chorus)So I asked the 8 Ball
Pretty 8 Ball
Does that mean he wants me?
Does that mean he wants me back?

I shook up the 8 Ball
and the little triangle said
concentrate and ask again
concentrate and ask again

(Repeat Chorus)

I shook up the 8 Ball
and the little triangle said
My sources say no
My sources say no

Fuck you stupid 8 Ball
Fuck you ugly 8 Ball
You suck

Elvis Costello Doing "Beautiful," my song of the week

Thanks for sending me this, Mike Flaherty!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I have this one problem with Tina Fey

Of course I think she's smart and funny (although I can't seem to stay awake during 30 Rock). I just wish her back story didn't include a loss of 15 pounds as a prerequisite for her success in front of the camera. Girls don't need more material for the "if I lose weight my situation will vastly improve" tape loops in their brains.

I've never been an Aguilera fan, but...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Did You Watch Glee Last Night?

I was really happy with the way they handled the body image issue. OK, I am a sucker, and such a sap that I cry at credit card commercials. But I was choked up during the scene where Quinn helped Mercedes in the nurse's office after Mercedes passed out from starving herself. When Quinn talked about pregnancy changing her relationship to food, it really resonated for me. I will say there were some off moments, but I'll take the good with the bad. And I was verklempt when Mercedes sang Beautiful.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Even Blind Men Prefer Pamela Anderson

Lolling on the beach in Miami, I was preoccupied with last week's New York Times magazine and its "wellness" theme. There was an article on how to raise a daughter to feel good about her body while also preventing the onset of childhood obesity. I personally hate the whole childhood obesity witch hunt. It often seems like another opportunity for people to feel superior to the overweight. I was a chubby kid, just slightly, and persecuted until my mother brought me to Weight Watchers at age 13, where I lost 20 pounds and learned the skills to eventually become an accomplished anorexic. My fear that my so-far naturally slim daughter may someday develop an eating disorder consumes me. I imagine that it's similar to what recovering alcoholics feel about their own children becoming addicted to alcohol. I never discuss weight and dieting in her presence, and the subject is forbidden in our household.

But the subject is never far from my mind. I've struggled with body image problems my whole life, and there's nothing like sitting on a beach surrounded by scantily clad humans to intensify self-scrutiny. One article in the above mentioned NY Times issue analyzed a study about men's preference for women with the "perfect" waist hip ratio. Which, apparently, has been scientifically proven to be 0.7. I don't know what my waist/hip ratio is, but I bet that it is not 0.7. I would like to say to the scientists who decided to pinpoint this fact: what the hell is wrong with you?

Another group of scientists decided to test these findings by gathering together blind men, and asking them to feel up mannequins with various hip/waist ratios. They were wondering if sighted men had these preferences because of visual stimuli, such as Pamela Anderson on Dancing With the Stars. When I read this premise I thought of the funny joke we used to say to each other at Sassy, that we'd like to meet some really cute blind guys. But the bad news is that the scientists discovered that EVEN THE BLIND MEN PREFER THE "OPTIMAL" HIP/WAST RATIO. This was not information I deemed helpful.

I looked around the beach. None of the women, many of them European, seemed to have 0.7 hip/waist ratios, yet the vast majority wore bikinis. I have appeared in a bikini for exactly one summer of my life, the year I was 17. Ever after I have retreated to the privacy of a modest one piece. I have thus far stopped short of a style with a skirt, but I am not making any promises.

While I was contemplating this study, my perfect blond daughter looked at me in my navy blue tank suit. "Mommy, why don't you wear a bikini?" she asked. My guard was down, so I blurted, "I'm too old. Bikinis are for young girls who haven't had babies." Which is not the idea I want her to have at all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wish You Were Here!

I'm on "vacation" with my family. Why do I always think sharing a hotel room with two bed-jumping, pillow-fighting hyperactive kids will be relaxing? And I just love paying 10 bucks for a grilled cheese that my precious daughter takes one bite of. JK, I adore my darling babies!

The last three years we have traveled locally for spring break: D.C., Williamsburg, Philly. Every year it has poured. So this time, we got on a plane to Miami. And: rain. Day three now. However, we hit the Miami Science Museum yesterday, which was perfect for the kids, and had a delicious lunch at Versailles. Today I plan to go on a search for my sanity.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I heard this guy Clay Shirsky on NPR's On the Media this morning while I was making breakfast for my children as my husband slept in. Clay, an NYU professor, was being interviewed because an NPR ombudsman (who is female, yet referred to as an ombudsman) had discovered that there aren't enough female sources and commentators on NPR. He had written a rant for his blog inspired by the realization that his male students were getting jobs more readily than his female students, regardless of their level of talent. His rant states that "not enough women have what it takes to behave like arrogant self-aggrandizing jerks." And "whatever you can say about these behaviors, you can't say they are underrepresented among people who have changed the world." The rant has attracted 511 comments as of this moment. On NPR, the interviewer pointed out that woman who behave confidently often get punished for it, and are called shrill, strident bitches. He agreed.

This reminds me of some advice a successful journalist friend once offered when I was having a hard time at a job. "I always think of what a man would do, and then I do that," she told me. I was never able to think that way. But she does have a better career than I do.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A case of mistaken identity

So a lot of women have the same name as I do. Not too surprising considering that Kelly is the second most popular Irish name, and as my mother says: "The Irish reproduce like rabbits. They populate the entire earth. It's disgusting." Christina is pretty common too. Don't get me wrong; I like my name. I just wish I didn't have to share it with so many people.

This is usually just a mild annoyance, as when the dry cleaner switches my clothes with those of the other Christina Kelly who goes there. Once a doctor called to tell me I had a sexually transmitted disease, only to ring back later to say, oops, she meant to notify her other patient named Christina Kelly.

However, a Christina Kelly who resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee has really fucked with me. Not only do we share the same name, our email addresses are almost identical. I mean, they are really easy to mix up. Thus she often gets email intended for me. Most of this is very mundane, such as reminders from our church that it's my turn to help in the Sunday school, notices from the kids' school, etc. Chattanooga C.K. deals with this in a truly unbelievable way. She doesn't let the sender know they've got the wrong lady. She just responds really rudely, and then they think I'm insane.

The first time this happened, about two years ago, a class mom had sent out a group email to make sure I was still bringing the paper plates for the party. Chattanooga C.K. fires off some crabby response, and EVERYONE THINKS IT'S ME! But nobody tells me about it. I just get funny looks in the A&P, and no one is calling for playdates, and basically the sea parts when I arrive at, say, a birthday party for pickup. Finally, weeks later, a mom of one of my son's friends, asks, "What was the deal with that email you sent?" And it all gets unraveled. But there was no undoing the damage. It was viral. I felt like every stay-at-home mom in the school thought I was a lunatic. I felt like I had sent the email.

About a week before Christmas, at about 10 pm, I was in my room reading when the doorbell rang. My husband answered it. I heard him say, "Hello, officer," and then a few seconds later he asked me to come downstairs. He and a police officer were standing near our newly decorated Christmas tree.

"Did you call a suicide hot line?" he asked. "A Christina Kelly called a suicide hot line, but she didn't give her address, so we're checking with all the Christina Kellys in the area." I had not called a suicide hot line. But I had been really depressed that weekend. So it was eerie.

Can we talk about this cover?

I used to work at a footwear publication, so I know the challenges.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Second editor-in-chief haiku

Another budget meeting
Newsstand sales are down
How did I get here?

Out of the mouths of babes

My daughter Violet was looking at some portraits of me. My friend Nina Rich took them eight years ago for my editor's page at ym. At the time, Violet was gestating in my uterus. I always hate being photographed, but especially when I have morning sickness. I had had my hair and makeup done, and Nina is a good photographer, so they turned out pretty well. V was fascinated by the box of contact sheets. "Mommy," she said. "You look so pretty here. It doesn't even look like you!" Every time I think of that, I just laugh and laugh.

Here's another story, not as funny. The subject of writers had come up. "Daddy's a writer," said Violet. "Yes, and so is Mommy," I reminded her. Silence, and a skeptical look. Had she seen me writing? No. She had seen me doing laundry and making dinner and sweeping the floor. "You used to be a writer," she said, and went back to reading her Ramona book. She's right. I used to be a writer.

Demented Product of the Day: The Cat Potty

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tonight's Episode of Glee

I'll rocket right past the obvious here, which is that Will Schuester is dreamy (Justin Timberlake crossed with Gene Kelly). Why don't they have him sing and dance more? Does anyone prefer Finn's squinty-eyed singing and hunched-over dancing? I've never before seen a teen show where the tv crush just has to bypass the youngsters and land on the teacher.

I like the way Brittany is developing. She's the stupid blonde cheerleader. She has learned to deliver her lines really deadpan, in an extremely low voice. It makes it seem as if she's in on the joke, like dumb and smart are just two sides of the same coin. Her best lines tonight: "Rachel's sweaters make her look like she's home-schooled" and "Do you know that dolphins are just gay sharks?" With an emphatic nod. Hilarious.

Editor-in-Chief Haiku

Must appear on Extra
Starlet's eating disorder
There's a zit on my chin

The 1994 Fallen Princess included three truly inspired freelance haiku by Kim France. I have asked her to write some editor-in-chief haiku chronicling her experiences at Lucky. So far, nothing. I wish all the editors-in-chief would write haiku for me. Particularly Cyndi Leive, the editor of Glamour, who makes it look easy, and trust me, it's not, especially if you have little kids at home. So come on ladies, dig deep into the wellspring of ennui caused by budget meetings, newsstand consultants, advertisers' stupid demands and the general collapse of the publishing industry. It will be cathartic, if not job-preserving

Verizon Catch-22

I just got the most hilarious text from Verizon. They are allegedly coming to fix my internet connection this morning. "Please check your repair status at" As far as they know, I have no frickin' internet service! Verizon knows nothing of "Birdy" and his/her unintentional web largess. Or do they?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thanks for following me

So, I've been having technical difficulties. The guys fixing my plumbing accidently cut the wire to my Verizon box, and since my husband is in Eugene with Conan and I can barely use a remote control, much confusion ensued. Right now I am using the internet connection paid for by someone named "Birdy." Thanks, "Birdy," (or sorry?). My daughter was afraid I would be arrested for pirating someone's connection.

This snafu was followed by some truly horrendous parking at my French class. I can't drive to save my life, and I parked too close to the car next to me, had to exit via the passenger door, then realized too late that the person next to me wouldn't be able to get into his or her car. It was all really embarrassing.

But I wanted to thank you all for following me. You must be wondering why you bothered around now. More tomorrow.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

For the Freelance Community

I originally started Fallen Princess in 1994 after Sassy folded and I needed somewhere to complain about my frustrations with freelance magazine writing. I would often call my friend Charles Aaron to vent about sundry freelance humiliations. "Oh, the Fallen Princess," he would say, half-sympathetically, half-mockingly. And so the site was born. It had a short life, but it provided me with the illusion of control over my destiny. I subtitled the site "For the Freelance Community." I imagined it as a safe haven where freelancers would commiserate, but mostly, I wished to complain. I also would publish my killed stories, my contracts for my killed stories, accounts of the indignities I suffered at the hands of editors and publicists. And then I would wonder why my freelance career was going so poorly.

Ever since the magazine I last worked for folded 4 years ago, friends have suggested I start a blog. I couldn't understand why I should write for free. I was annoyed at how everyone seems to have a blog. I didn't know what I could add. Instead, I spent three years as a stay-at-home mom and community volunteer. Then my kids got bigger, I became bored, and I tried to get back into the freelance writing game. It hasn't been so easy.

I wrote the piece about door-to-door solicitors after dinner one night this week. I was thinking it would be perfect for the "Complaint Box" section of the New York Times. I submitted it via email and immediately got back this automated response:
"Thank you for writing to the Metropolitan Section. If you have submitted a Complaint Box essay, you should hear back from us within a month if we are interested in publishing it. If you do not hear back, thanks anyway, and feel free to submit it

I'm too impatient to wait a month. So I started this blog.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dopey Model Poses

An oldie but a goodie! Andrea Linett's classic at

Door-to-Door Solicitors

I am hardly unsympathetic to the woes of my fellow humans. I donate to many organizations, from my church and alma mater, to my children’s school, the museums and non-profits in my town, as well as the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club, Channel 13, National Public Radio…I could go on.

It’s dinnertime and the doorbell just rang. I didn’t answer it because I knew who it was: a young woman from Environment New Jersey, one of the two or three door-to-door solicitors that visit me every week. (Not counting the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but that’s another story.) I’ve given in the past and I’m sure she just wanted to thank me for my past support. Before she asks me for more money. In fact, she tried to do that two days ago at about 7:45 pm, as I was taking my distressed kitten from the carrier after picking her up from the low-cost neutering clinic (also in need of funding). I explained why I couldn’t talk, and she tried to hand me her clipboard anyway. Grrr! “Some other time,” I said testily. I really meant: “Go away and don’t come back.”

I hate to be so mean. Just last week I wrote a check for another New Jersey environmental organization when the earnest young man appeared on my peeling front porch as I was helping my 1st grade daughter and 4th grade son with spelling and math homework. I support environmental causes. I’m a big fan of not destroying our planet. But the proliferation of non-profits asking for help can get downright confusing, and annoying. I respond well to guilt, but I have my limits.

There are also so many Veterans organizations lauding my past help when they call during inconvenient times that I’ve just started saying no to them all. Again, nothing against all you veterans. I appreciate the sacrifices you’ve made for our country, I am appalled by the state of services for the men and women who have served, but I believe you were all fighting for my freedom to be left in peace in my own home.

Last summer, a woman in her 30’s appeared on my door. She was selling magazines. She was so impassioned about her sale—she believed that the company she worked for was helping her exit a life of dead-end jobs at fast food restaurants—that I bought a subscription to Yoga Journal. It cost probably 5 times more than it should have. I wasn’t sure if I had been swindled, or if I had done a good deed, or both.