This summer, I was in California for my birthday. My cousin and I went to a local winery and I treated myself to a tasting and had something called Tempranillo. I lost my mind. It was delightful. The bottle was some absurd price, like forty dollars, so that was my birthday present to myself that day. It was worth it, even though the price was ridiculous. Winery prices are so silly. It’s still elegant to feel wealthy and wander through vines and sip too much wine, though. I kind of forgot about this variety entirely, but then I was at my favorite restaurant in Des Moines, Table 128, and had a glass that cost far too much money. Once again it was absolutely delightful. And then I didn’t think much about it at all. And then, reader, I was at one of my favorite places in the entire world. No, not Paris, and no not Mexico City, and no not Luxor, and no not Los Angeles, and yes, it was ALDI! I had to fill up my wine fridge, so I was looking for something new to put in my exotic chiller. I love my wine fridge. I looked at the bottom shelf and found a bottle of red wine for like six dollars, and then, I looked at the label, and then I saw it was Tempranillo. I made an inhuman noise. I grabbed four bottles, and I should have bought eight. Reader, it was not as good as the Tempranillo varieties that I’d had in the past, but it was good enough that I was shaken to my core. It is so good. The flavor profile is fabulous and the bottle is so pretty, and I love seeing the bottles glistening in my wine fridge. Actually I love seeing anything in my wine fridge. If you have an ALDI near to you, consider yourself so overwhelmingly blessed, and then grab all of the Tempranillo that they have in stock. If you love a red wine, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. It is absolutely brilliant. I can’t wait to get home and drink more of it. And get a wine fridge. Honestly, life changing.
Lost and Found Cat:
I came across a children’s book at work the other day, and I was captivated by the gorgeous illustration of a fluffy white cat. The title was Lost and Found Cat, which basically gives the entirety of the plot away, and assured of a happy ending, I decided to flip through it. Reader, dear and darling reader, I was instantly madly in love. The story is about a family of Iraqi refugees who fled Mosul fearing for their lives. The children and the mother paid smugglers to get them out of Iraq to Greece where humanitarian groups could get them resettled somewhere less deadly. The family could not leave their beloved cat, Kunkush, behind so the mother decided to hide the beautiful feline in a basket disguised as one of their few possessions. They’d feed Kunkush when the smugglers weren’t looking, let him out during rest breaks in the forests, and even make sure he was carried at the end of the line so that any unexpected meows would not be heard. The smugglers were very serious and didn’t want to risk discovery, and so having a cat along was not exactly a great idea. Thankfully, the family made it all the way to the Aegean Sea and boarded an inflatable raft for Greece. On the way to the Isle of Lesbos, a big wave hit the boat and they had to turn around. The chaos broke the closing mechanism of Kunkush’s basket, so when they finally made it to shore, he was accidentally let out. Kunkush thought it was just a normal break, but he was soaked from the waves, and freaked out thanks to the water voyage, so he scurried off in terror. The family looked and looked, but Kunkush was nowhere to be found. Heartbroken, they had to leave and carry on to their new home. Kunkush was not amused, reader. He was filthy and missed his family and none of the local cats were very friendly. Some humanitarians recognized him as the missing cat, and so they decided to reunite him and his family. Big problem, though, nobody knew where they ended up. Kunkush went to Germany and his foster family started a Facebook campaign to find his owners. Eventually one of the children saw it on Facebook and realized it was their Kunkush. Kunkush proceeded to Skype the family and I got hella misty eyed. And then the foster family flew him to them in Norway where they had resettled. And here’s where I absolutely lost it. When Kunkush was reunited with the mother, the illustration is perfection, and she exclaims, “Ma habibi!” And at that point there I am at work sobbing about sweet Kunkush and his unexpected journey. I love cats so much. I bought my own copy of the book at once. If you ever find yourself pregnant, expect to get a copy of this perfect children’s book from me. And then I saw pictures from the actual reunion and I am never going to be the same. My heart forever belongs to Kunkush.
Y’all, I’m desperately in love with my new hamper. And it’s at times like this that I realize I truly am nearly thirty years old. It’s only six months away. Today is literally my half birthday. Oh my god. I’m not ready. Anyway, I’m ancient and nothing thrills me more than household organization and vacuums with supremely powerful suction. I think you all understand, I mean have you ever used a really good vacuum that grabbed things you didn’t even know were embedded in your antique Turkish rug? You haven’t lived yet if you said no. But that has nothing to do with this right now. I was out splurging on things I don’t need with my friend, Jose. I had no trouble tossing unneeded foods in my cart, and I was more than delighted to grab a new high-powered antenna, but I was reluctant for some strange reason to get a new hamper. I didn’t need one. I had a system in order that worked rather well, but there was this really pretty hamper. And yes, I just said there was a pretty hamper. There’s no need for such a common thing to be so attractive, and that’s what really drew me in and kept my gaze lingering affectionately. I’d never seen such a gorgeous way to organize dirty clothes. It was almost Steampunk. Four cloth bags hang on a gorgeous metal frame. The bags have handles to pick them up and take them to the washing machine with ease. It’s extra decadent. Like all things, I procrastinated and let the box sit upstairs. Jose finally got sick of seeing it in the box so he put it together, and reader, oh my god. It’s prettier than I dreamed it would be. I love being able to sort my laundry into different categories. One is for colored fabric, one for whites, one for towel things, and one for undergarments. I have never felt more elegant tossing socks into a bag in my life. Who thought that it would be so wonderful? I can’t say much more. It is still just a hamper, but reader, wow. Upgrade the basics in your life, you’re worth it. Life is so much more fun with a pretty hamper and nice outlet covers and a water filter. You can live without them, but honestly, why would you want to?
“Golden Hour” by Kacey Musgraves:
Y’all know how at heart I’m a country queen, right? Growing up on the Judds and spending summers in Nashville really molded my musical tastes. I love nothing more than a country bop. Give me Dolly and Shania and Reba and the Dixie Chicks and Loretta and Patsy Cline and Pam Tillis and all the legendary queens of country. Turns out this kind of music is a big part of my psyche, even though I can’t really stand modern country. I don’t want to hear absolutely anything about a tractor or a margarita or a vengeful spouse. Doesn’t thrill me. Wait, hold on, I can’t stand two out of three of those. I love a vengeful spouse when it’s Reba. I think it’s time for a mandatory Reba interlude whilst we revisit her greatest achievement, the music video for “Does He Love You?”
Wasn’t that the most brilliant thing you’ve ever seen in the entirety of your life? If not, you’re wrong, so just be aware of that. So the point of this lengthy interlude is to say that I don’t really stay current with current trends in country music. It’s just not what it was. The hair isn’t big enough, there aren’t enough dramatic love songs, and it’s just too much like pop. Taylor Swift…ugh, enough said. So, I was not aware of a new country queen called Kacey Musgraves. And honestly there is absolutely no reason that I should have been sleeping on this queen of bops. Harry Styles was well aware of her talents and status as a gay icon by inviting her to open the second leg of his American tour. This should have told me to drop everything and listen…but I didn’t listen. And that was absolutely foolish, when I went to the second solo concert he ever performed, a lesbian pop group called MUNA opened, and I love them with the entirety of my heart. Kacey, it turns out, is just as delightful. It’s country but it’s like classic feminist country that I loved so much growing up. And there is a song that I’m insane about called “High Horse” that is the triumph of the year, let’s watch it and bop together.
God that’s too good.
Karl Lagerfeld’s Death:
Reader, I’m emotionally ruined. One of the most important icons in my life is dead. I almost thought he was immortal, but Karl Lagerfeld died this morning. I can’t believe it, I won’t believe it, I don’t think I’ve started to fully process my feelings. My phone alerted me this morning at 5:15, and I was unable to do anything. I lay back down in bed and reflected on Karl, on what he meant to me, on how I’ll miss sharing the planet with him. I don’t have enough space on this post to rhapsodize endlessly, so I’ll try to go against my better nature and be succinct. Let me go grab a Diet Coke and then I’ll get to work. Bear with…oh god that aspartame is good. I don’t remember when I first learned of Karl, there was no formative moment that introduced him to my life. Over the years, he just became a fascinating figure that I couldn’t get enough of. I loved his powdered hair, his bulky ties, his fingerless gloves, his sunglasses, and all the languages he spoke. He said something that has stayed with me ever since. “When I speak English I am one person, when I speak German I’m another, when I speak French I’m another.” I completely understood. When I’m speaking French, I’m very different from when I’m speaking English or crappy Arabic. But I loved him for more than this, he made bold and controversial proclamations. He adopted and fell in love with a cat named Choupette. He had the greatest quotes. He was an enigma and a mystery and a genius and I wanted nothing more than to meet him. This obsession kicked off in Paris, as so many things in my life did. When you travel a lot, you learn how to make friends differently. Friends need not be lasting relationships, they are fleeting and ephemeral things that last but a day or two. One of those friends is named Alyson, and I was fascinated with her because of how she spelled her name. I’d never seen something so ridiculous, so of course I gravitated toward her one Saturday morning at Le Cordon Bleu. We had both signed up for an extra class about baking bread, and it was a hoot. We had the best time laughing and baking and gossiping and talking about Paris. She was telling me that on a class field trip to Angelina’s — one of the more unnecessarily famous bakeries in Paris — Karl Lagerfeld was there drinking hot chocolate. This intrigued me so much. When my class went, we didn’t see Karl, we just saw a machine that automatically piped macarons. But I never lost my desire to find Karl. I just wanted to see him. I went to Angelina’s regularly. I peered creepily through the windows of Maxim’s. I haunted every Chanel store in Paris. I stared lovingly at the mirrored stairs at Rue Cambon wondering if Karl had climbed them that morning. As I got older and went to Paris more and more, I tried ever harder to see him.
I don’t know what my goal was, it was an ambition entirely to see him with my own eyes. I walked up and down the street where he allegedly lived. I lingered in the bookstore that he launched to sell books of his images. I found lists of shops he liked and visited them. I went to exhibitions that he put on. And when I was lucky enough to be in Paris during a Chanel show, you would know exactly where to find me, lurking around the Grand Palais. Let me tell you, reader, for a young fashion lover, there is nothing so intoxicating as an obstructed glimpse of the Chanel runway. I waited in the rain, longing for Karl to come out, but I never saw him. Instead, a group of young Asian women and I chased a man to his waiting car. I didn’t recognize him, but later discovered I had been chasing Jared Leto. Who knew? And so Karl has been an influence in my life for over a decade. I love him entirely. I appreciate his wit, his values, his sense of humor. Everything about Karl satisfied me. And I wanted so much to someday say hello to him. That’s all. I don’t have grand illusions of being a supermodel anymore. I don’t even have that many unattainable goals anymore. But I wanted to meet Karl with all of my heart. And now I never will. February 19 will always weigh heavy on my heart. I feel like I’ve lost a bit of myself.