Friday Five: The Limits of Self-Care, Rediscovering Charlotte Gainsbourg And My ‘What Would Kate Moss Do?” Outfit

The past few weeks of work stress, lack of sleep, shite eating and not as much exercising finally caught up to me. I knew it would happen eventually…one can only go so long without adequate sleep before going nuts. The obvious answer is to get more sleep, but I realized this week that the structure of my life — jobs, parenting, family commitments and other such things — just doesn’t allow for me to do it consistently and with much reliable support. There are just too many demands on me now, too many competing priorities that all clamor to be placed at the top of the list. And of course, who ends up on the bottom? Me!

The truth is, no amount of ‘self-care’ can really make up for serious depletion of energy and vitality. This really was the week where the whole notion of ‘self-care’ infuriated me, actually — because, oooh, one hour a week to get my fricking nails done or a massage doesn’t make up for worrying about healthcare, the structural inequities between men and women of childcare, the relentless on-demand nature of work now and the serious inability of our society to care for its elders in any palpable way. I’m not opposed to self-care practices, of course, but it puts the burden on adapting to fucked-up systems on the people at the mercy of these systems — rather than looking at these fucked-up systems in the first place and changing them.

Of course, that’s the political-intellectual part of me analyzing the context in which I live my life. The practical part of me is realizing that the way my life is structured at the moment isn’t sustainable. I need to think about changes, and then I need to think about a plan to implement these changes.

+ One of the big casualties of the last few weeks have been time to create, write or simply just think. Between my jobs, taking care of Budge and the stupidity of keeping a household going, there’s so little energy left by the time I do get some free time that my creative-introvert side gets short shrift. Thinking about all this, I read Teri Vlassopoulos’ essay at Catapult with great interest. Teri is an old zine/Internet friend, based in Toronto — I’ve always loved the clarity, sensitivity and beauty of her writing. She and I gave birth to our children around the same time — well, about a month apart — so in a way, I see her as a comrade in combining creative commitment with motherhood. What I love about her essay about thinking about giving up writing is the great trust she has in the ebb and flow of life — that writing will be there for her even when the demands and shape of parenting change, and making peace with it. It’s a great read, especially for any mothers who balance their parenting with creative pursuits. And it’s something I think about when I feel sad that this part of me feels neglected. My own truth is that I absolutely need to write and create more and now — one of the reasons I think my depression has lingered is because of this — and so I’m looking at my life thinking of what I need to scuttle to make this happen.

+ I’ve recently rediscovered Charlotte Gainsbourg’s ‘IRM’ album. I remember listening to it a lot near the tail-end of my time in New York, in 2010, walking up and down Broadway on the Upper West Side while it played on my headphones. Now, I listen to music a lot in my car, and it sounds just as great. It came out awhile ago and I quite liked it back then — it’s full of lots of left-field indie pop that feels hushed, playful, intimate yet experimental. Somehow it both straddles the soft wistfulness of late winter with the tentative energy and playfulness of early spring. It’s been six years since its initial release, and part of me would love to hear more from her, no? I guess that’s part of her French mystique…

+ Another popular listen around our house is the new Spoon album, Hot Thoughts. Of course, I’m far from the only person who’s into it — it’s been getting excellent reviews all around. Spoon has the trick of sounding both tightly wound yet somehow groovy and loose, and this particular record is very dance-oriented, while still holding steady to their indie rock sound. I dig it…and so does Budge!

+ My favorite outfit this week was basically the result of me facing my closet in a state of sleep deprivation-induced ennui and just feeling….eh. These are the times in life when it’s good to go for the ‘tried and true,’ but I was so royally sick of ‘tried and true.’ (I was pretty sick of a lot of things at this point, though!) I wanted to do something different, if only for my own entertainment. And oddly, I got myself out of my stupor by asking myself, ‘What would Kate Moss do?’ Which is a bit of a surprise, because she hasn’t quite been on my fashion radar in awhile. I mean, I’m like many other ladies who grew up in the 90s — she was definitely part of my cultural iconography in that grunge/CKOne era. And even past that, I remember when Kate Moss style icon worship was at its peak — you know, hanging out with Pete Doherty and going to Glastonbury and making Wellies pretty much the hottest accessory ever. I even bought a few of the pieces from her first Topshop collection. But she kind of fell to the rear of the few brain cells reserved for fashion after a time, as fashion things do. Of course, the fashion landscape has moved on as well, and a whole other generation of ‘influencers’ have risen to grab the collective attention with general blogger wackiness and what I call ‘visual likebait.’

But what I admire about Kate — after doing a few new Google searches to catch up on all things Mossy — is that she’s still working her classic-haute-boho-rock-chic thing, no matter what else is in style. A few of the details have been updated: hemlines, a few prints, waistlines. But the template is essentially the same: a skinny jean, a blazer, a scarf, all in classic neutrals and sexy but practical silhouettes. So I was inspired to take out an old tank, a blazer, some jeans and some ankle boots. Sure, not the most innovative outfit — but innovation is not quite my thing, anyway. And it’s not Kate’s — but she still looks classic and cool, and there’s something really strong and comforting knowing that.

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