*Yes, I’m quoting Mulan in the title of this post.
**You can get that marbleized Macbook look with this.
I often write Magpie posts while walking Tilly or lathering up in the shower or drifting off to sleep at night or hurling myself down this particularly nefarious stretch of Broadway between 64th and 65th that is routinely clogged with too many slow-moving people — all situations in which access to my computer is highly inconvenient. My mind will be flitting around, magpie-like, mentally indexing the need to add Dapple bottle soap to the next Amazon order and wondering whether I should adjust mini’s nap thirty minutes later and attempting, unsuccessfully, to unpack what I actually thought about The Shape of Water, and then BOOM, a sentence will uncurl, fully-formed, and I realize I’ve had something to say all day. Then I’m off, a million miles a minute, drafting an entire paragraph in my head.
A friend of mine recently asked, “But how do you write so much? You write every day?”
Well, yes. I trotted out Ephron: “Everything is copy.”
But that was only partly true, I realized later, while sudsing my hair. The other reason why I write is because I am in conversation with you. Yes, you, specifically. I don’t quite understand how you’ve found me, as I know next to nothing about marketing or getting the word out about myself — and for many years, I actively swept this blog under the rug. “She writes a wonderful blog,” my mom would say, beaming. I’d squirm. “Um, yes. But I also…”
But the mechanics of your discovering me isn’t the most startling part about your being here — it’s the black magic of how I managed to find you, a ridiculously smart and empathetic and substantive woman. (I can say this non-frivolously because — well, just wait and see.)
I was astounded the other week when I discovered that Claire, a frequent and meaningful commenter on many of my posts, pens this blog and — more specifically — authored this post on New York, which I read in a ginormous gulp, without coming up for air. I then stared blankly at the page, my jaw on the keyboard. Her writing is crisp, sharp, imagistic, and she jumps quickly and without faltering from thought to thought, her excellent vocabulary stunning yet accessible. (She also has a knack for rhythmic parallelisms.) I wrote immediately to thank her for the gift of new words — logjam! window lick! ineffable! — as I could hardly wait to use them myself.
And it’s not only Claire, with her lovely way with words — it’s so many of you who have taken the time to email me or comment on my posts. I have been brought to tears more than once while reading your words, and I will turn to Mr. Magpie and say something embarrassingly mawkish, like: “This is why the Internet exists” as I sniffle into my sleeve.
So yes, who IS that girl I see?! Whoever you are, thank you for being here, even if I only catch a glimpse of you now and then in the comments section, from which I am copying a few of my favorites below, because I loved them so much I copied and pasted them into a document to flip back to when I need encouragement, or inspiration, or a reminder of why the Internet exists.
Magpie Hall of Fame Comment No. 1: Bold Literary Analyis from Holly
For extremely thoughtful literary and cultural analysis that has stayed with me, and left me thinking and re-thinking a lot of the plot points in “pop chick lit” (in reaction to my January Book Club post), Holly wrote — and spoiler alert for those who have not yet finished The Last Mrs. Parrish:
“I too got The Last Mrs Parrish to read while pumping after reading you couldn’t put it down — and I definitely couldn’t put it down. Made pumping much more bearable! What has sat uncomfortably for me is the end. Amber is of course absurdly evil, as you say. And yet beyond the emotional and physical abuse that Jackson displays, the sexual part of it (at least with Daphne) is rape. Are we meant to understand at the end that because she did other bad things that she deserves a lifetime of marital rape? She cried wolf with the man from her past, and so now she deserves what is coming to her? I enjoyed the book a lot and ate up all the twists but while the raid seemed like just punishment for Jackson, it seems incredibly gruesome that Daphne walks out — no matter how horrible Amber is — basically saying you got what is coming for you, emotional and sexual abuse and no money. Any thoughts? Don’t know anyone that has read the book to talk it out with, and I’m not sure given the end how comfortable I’d be recommending it despite the immense pleasure of the reading experience.”
Magpie Hall of Fame Comment No. 2: Lifehack from Katie
Um, this life-hack from Katie, in response to some of my standard griping about the joys of being an adult, has been CLUTCH:
“I had to comment to recommend making a shortcut for your email address – I did this for myself and it’s *life-changing*: On the iPhone, you navigate to Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> Text Replacement. I use three letters in a row that match my email address (and that I would never otherwise put together) and when I type those three letters and hit “space” – my full email address, gmail.com and all, magically appears. It is the best.”
Magpie Hall of Fame Comment No. 3: Words of Wisdom from Claire
Because I really, really, really, really need to hear this after writing about one of the most stressful months of my life and I feel like I know you, Claire:
“OK, breathe. Take it one day or even one hour at a time. I’m reading your blog and thinking how lucky you are to have lived in Chicago and now you get to try New York. People wish to live in either city. However, I keep thinking you will ease into NY City seamlessly, with your gorgeous style and Gucci shoes. Prance the streets and show them what you got girl! Remember Mary Tyler Moore’s song, “You’re gonna make it after all”. Hang in there. We are all cheering for you.”
Magpie Hall of Fame Comment No. 4: Keeping It Real from Taylor
Because I put my foot in my mouth when dismissing the song “Bad and Boujee,” Taylor kept it real:
“The term “bougie” (don’t miss the point they have misspelled the slang) is distinctly an insult. It is similar to “basic” in that you might joking call your friend basic, but it is not a compliment. The French bourgeoisie were merchant families who were just as wealthy as the (lower) nobility, but didn’t have the title. Today, bougie is used to describe a middle-class women trying to flash enough designer labels as to appear upper-class. In this song Migos is expressing annoyance and discontent with superficial women. They want “women of substance” too!
Finally, it is painfully obvious you have not watched the video because the styling is quirky and gorgeous and you would have had something to say.
(Rant over. I’m just hurt you’re hating on our song. Your blog is my absolutely favorite. I love your voice and your aesthetic.)”
Magpie Hall of Fame Comment No. 5: New Mom Advice from Anna
Anna helped me get back on track when I was being over-precious about my role as a new mom — but she did it gently, kindly, and through her own example:
“Re: stuffing your days. I felt the same with my first child. I taught high school and every weekend or day off was planned out to be an ADVENTURE. Now I have a toddler AND an infant and something my mom said to me resonates: Every day doesn’t have to be an adventure. Some days the adventure is the grocery store, or Target. I remind myself that my parents did not take me on daily outings, but often we stayed at home and played with our zillion toys. Likely so my parents could get sh*t done, but… I’m fine and I never doubted I had a good mom. Hope it helps you – it does for me!”
Magpie Hall of Fame Comment No. 6: Weaning Advice from Jennifer B.
When I was seriously struggling with the decision to wean mini, Jennifer weighed in thoughtfully and ended her note with just what every mom should hear:
“Looking back, some of my most cherished moments were spent nursing and rocking my babes to sleep. It was worth every agonizing moment and there are times I wish I had done it for longer, but then again, I remember how liberating it felt not to be tethered to someone or something. What will you regret more – sticking with it when you were ready to move on, or weaning before you were completely ready to let go?…
Whatever, whenever, you decide, know that you’re doing the best thing for yourself and therefore, mini.”
Magpie Hall of Fame Comment No. 7: Parenting Advice from Jenna
Jenna, these words hit me like a ton of bricks when I was musing on my new role as a mom and I think about them constantly. Thank you for the caveat.
“The best words of advice I ever got when I would wish that my daughter would stop doing this or start doing that was, “don’t wish their babyhood or childhood away.” Enjoy every moment that you have, take in the good and the bad because you will never get it back :). My daughter is almost 3 and while I absolutely cannot stand her tantrums, I know that in a few short years they will be gone and it will be a reminder that she’s not my baby anymore and that she’s growing up way too fast. Enjoy that sweet babe 🙂
Magpie Hall of Fame Comment No. 8: Book Selection Thoughts from Alison
Alison, this comment, in reaction to my question as to what book you would recommend for “a bro book club,” stood out to me in part because it reflected how well-read and thoughtful you are, but also because I loved the image of you noodling over book choice while doing laundry and washing dishes — just a smart gal, thinking about smart things, while handling her business:
“The challenge of suggesting a female author for the bros is fun, I’ve been thinking about it while tackling my Saturday chores. I keep coming back to Just Kids. Patti is just such a good writer, her stories are fascinating but still relatable, and I think it is an important account of when New York really was cool and bohemian and a place for artists and dreamers. I feel like dapper 20 somethings probably need to know about that version of NYC 🙂.”
Magpie Hall of Fame Comment No. 9: Handling Criticism, Also from Alison
I wear my heart on my sleeve, and spoke honestly about a critical comment I’d received on Le Blog a few months ago. Alison (same Alison as the previous!) had this to say, which I loved both for the opening statement (how true!) and for your authentic reaction to how I’d handled the criticism:
“Some years pass kind of quietly and others you come out at the end a completely different person than when you started. It’s clear this one was the latter! A few thoughts…
It’s true that it could have been presented in a MUCH more respectful and thoughtful way, but I think you were right to give it a little reflection rather than just dismissing it outright. I think you’re ultimately right about the reaction being largely a misunderstanding of tone (or maybe something just hit a nerve in a weird way for that person), but there is value in knowing that someone has misunderstood something (even it seemed so clear to you!)”
There are so many more, but these are a few that rocked my world and that have me rocketing out of bed to check my comments every morning.
I also must — MUST — give a shout out to my girl MK, for staying in conversation with me over hundreds of posts and always encouraging me to write, and my girl Bunny, who is hilarious and prayerful and sharp and just the kind of smart, nurturing woman of substance I’d like to know. Both of you have written too many excellent, well-timed comments for me to isolate just one.
Post-Script: Truly Random Links.
+Mr. Magpie has a bad case of “dad back” — meaning that he’s constantly complaining about his stiff/sore back because he’s constantly being asked to carry 2398 pounds of gear, baby, and groceries. “A chiropractor? Advil?” I offer, hopefully. “Pffff. Nope. This is how you get old man strength.” I may have convinced him to try one of these acupressure mats, which people go insane over.
+What in the sweet heavens is this dress? I’m obsessed with it and have it earmarked as a potential birthday dress for myself. It’s hard to tell if the cut-outs will look too showy/revealing in-person. I’m very flat-chested so things that look a bit revealing online tend to look boring on me, so I’m not too worried.
+I usually hold out for RRR’s spendy kiddo jammies to go on sale, but the print on these is too good, and I think mini needs them for the family reunion we’re going to in May.
+Has anyone used Boll and Branch sheets? They’re ALL over the Goop podcast, and Gwyneth says she uses them in her home(s). Very curious…
+I need this frothy blouse.
+Eberjey jammies, on sale! They are the softest, most luxurious things you will ever sleep in.
+The cutest stationery for a little boy — but why don’t they make superwoman ones too?!
+My sister gave mini one of these precious stuffed animals for her birthday, and I LOVE the company: for every ethically-produced, hand-knit doll they sell, they are able to feed 10 children!
+Very intrigued by this makeup removing pad, which my friend Hitha recommended: “Face Halo works with either cold or warm water. The water loosens your makeup allowing the HaloTech fiber strands (which are 100 times finer than a human hair) to reach deep into your pores to remove and trap makeup, giving your skin a healthy and invigorating clean in half the time. It’s just clever. And so easy.”