Lisa Birnbach

Moving On

This stock photograph is a fairly good representation of what’s in the center of my living room, though most of the boxes are already stuffed and sealed.

We’re moving.  Again.  And you know I’m not in the military, a full-time employee who gets relocated for work, or ducking from my landlord.

But I am moving.  Each move requires some shedding of things.  Things that were valuable to keep last time around, but somehow have lost their sheen now.  Each move forces you (or in this case, me) to reevaluate all that I own:  Can I imagine this piece of furniture in the new place?  Is there a good reason to feel sentimentally tugged by this particular end table or bookcase?

Is this the move that will turn me into a minimalist?

As some of you long time blog readers may know, I lost an enormous amount of possessions in a flood at our country house in 2012.   

People were kind.  They offered condolences.  A Lilly Pulitzer resale shop offered me choice pickings.  But the loss of so many great pieces, books, mementos — (my exhibits also displayed great fortitude after the flood) — made me think hard about what I have and what I don’t have.  And made me realize that things I treasure should be stored more carefully.

Then I learned that the things I’d paid to store in a facility in the Bronx — shared with my ex-husband, had somehow evaporated:  a carton of 1st editions of The Official Preppy Handbook, our babies’ crib, half of my library, our wedding china, and much much more.  What lesson can I take from this loss?

Just to winnow my precious belongings to a few things, hope to use and enjoy them in life, and remember that “storage” is not much better nor safer than “putting things out on the street.”

But I digress.  This move is an optimistic one, but not without its perils.  We are trying out an entirely new neighborhood, for one thing.  I’ve been planted within a 20 block radius for most of my life, so this will be a jolt to the system.  But change is good, and in this move we will feel more like a family.

While you are enjoying the last of your Labor Day barbecues, we will be figuring out which treasures fit into our new home, our new life, and which we will have to give away.

I can’t wait.  

xo,

Lisa

Half-Sized Summer

Hi Friends,

It’s July 27th, and I am feeling and acting as if the summer were over.  Schools are now mailing the Exhibits or me forms to fill out and bills for the school year.  There is no quicker buzzkill for the summer than thinking about the beginning of the school year.

Maybe because of the seemingly endless hot spells I’m addled and confused.  Outside the Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church on East 22nd Street was a sign that said something like, “Hello Satan, Please Take Back Your Weather”.

Besides the academic calendar, in New York City we are experiencing a desultory mayoral race.  Well it was a big bore until “Carlos Danger” reared his big (and little, I’m so very sorry) heads.

"Six weeks till the primary" hark the newscasters.  But if it’s 97 degrees out with 100% humidity, election season seems fake, or like that tree in the forest that has no witnesses to its fall.  And then to be hijacked by Carlos Danger and Sydney Leathers?  New York’s mayor?  (Mayors currently rolling in their graves include LaGuardia, Beame, O’Dwyer, Lindsay, and Koch.)

And speaking of leathers, department stores are showing fall clothes — knits and yes, leather — in their windows.  No wonder I have seasonal dysmorphia.

Don’t go all Dr. Phil on me, either. 

Just hand me a glass of ice cold rose.

Until soon,

Lisa

July 18, 2013 Blog 2.0

I Know You’ll Put this down the INSTANT that Baby is Born.

image

Happy Heatwave, Amigos and Amigas!

I’ve felt terrible about being awol, but to be honest, I didn’t feel that terrible. (Note:  Tumblr has italics.  Pay attention, Zuckerberg.)  I’m trying to become a businesswoman at long last and that has taken up my time.

Nevertheless.

Here is what is on my mind (or the remnants thereof) right now:

The heat.  Boring but true.  If this isn’t global warming, would you call it global burning?  Would you say this year’s weather reminds you of the weather of your childhood? It’s the extremes that are so hard to live with.  Memorial Day weekend was rainy and cold.  The following week the mercury hit 90.  And, let’s face it, the dramatic ups and downs make it hard to pack. (#Boohoo.)

Ed Snowden:  He’s rotting away in the transit lounge of the Moscow Airport.  Do they have a warm nuts kiosk?  (Doesn’t kiosk sound like a Russian word?)  Is he eating McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks for all his meals?  Has he showered?  I would imagine he has a full collection of Russian snowglobes, thimbles, and souvenir magnets.  If not him, who?

image

But I am not preoccupied with him.  Or his pole-dancing possible collaborator/girlfriend/decoy.

The Royal Baby?  Nope.  Though it would be amusing to imagine the Windsors succumbing to trend and naming their baby Jayden or Jaden or Kaden or Dylan or Ava.  

image

I had no idea that Paula Deen was an important person who really meantsomething to Americans.  (I’m not a tv watcher.)  So when news of her using the forbidden (and why would you ever say it anyway?) word  broke out, I had to learn all about Paula Deen.  

image

She was punished.  She will pay the price.  Evidently her restaurant business is booming nevertheless.  (Which proves that weary argument that any publicity is good publicity.)

Then there’s this guy:

image

  He says some despicable things too, but seems not to have to pay the price.  (Well, he does those awful commercials with those Vikings, but I think that was his choice.) 

BUT, I’ve already forgotten about:

image

.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Until tomorrow, when I write a better bloggy thing,

I Know You’ll Put this down the INSTANT that Baby is Born.

Happy Heatwave, Amigos and Amigas!

I’ve felt terrible about being awol, but to be honest, I didn’t feel that terrible. (Note:  Tumblr has italics.  Pay attention, Zuckerberg.)  I’m trying to become a businesswoman at long last and that has taken up my time.

Nevertheless.

Here is what is on my mind (or the remnants thereof) right now:

The heat.  Boring but true.  If this isn’t global warming, would you call it global burning?  Would you say this year’s weather reminds you of the weather of your childhood? It’s the extremes that are so hard to live with.  Memorial Day weekend was rainy and cold.  The following week the mercury hit 90.  And, let’s face it, the dramatic ups and downs make it hard to pack. (#Boohoo.)

Ed Snowden:  He’s rotting away in the transit lounge of the Moscow Airport.  Do they have a warm nuts kiosk?  (Doesn’t kiosk sound like a Russian word?)  Is he eating McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks for all his meals?  Has he showered?  I would imagine he has a full collection of Russian snowglobes, thimbles, and souvenir magnets.  If not him, who?

But I am not preoccupied with him.  Or his pole-dancing possible collaborator/girlfriend/decoy.

The Royal Baby?  Nope.  Though it would be amusing to imagine the Windsors succumbing to trend and naming their baby Jayden or Jaden or Kaden or Dylan or Ava.  

I had no idea that Paula Deen was an important person who really meant something to Americans.  (I’m not a tv watcher.)  So when news of her using the forbidden (and why would you ever say it anyway?) word  broke out, I had to learn all about Paula Deen.  

She was punished.  She will pay the price.  Evidently her restaurant business is booming nevertheless.  (Which proves that weary argument that any publicity is good publicity.)

Then there’s this guy:  He says some despicable things too, but seems not to have to pay the price.  (Well, he does those awful commercials with those Vikings, but I think that was his choice.) 

BUT, I’ve already forgotten about:.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Until tomorrow, when I write a better bloggy thing,

Ye Olde Campus

Timothy Finton posted this photograph of Middlebury College on our True Prep Facebook page.  The Adirondack chairs are so welcoming!It seems to be finally Spring, though with an undercurrent of the chills.  It’s about time.  

I have been quiet here for too long, but just know that I wanted to make an appearance, but have been busy with a lot of family and housekeeping chores that have been time-consuming and complicated.  

Meanwhile, my classmates at Riverdale Country School are, for the first time since the invention of the World Wide Web connecting (without the help of the Alumni Office) just to catch up and trade memories.  It’s been extraordinary, reading the hourly comments by the boys (I can’t help it; even though they are probably bald and certainly middle-aged, they’ll always be boys to me) in my grade.  And by the way, how can you be a master of the universe and have so much time to play on email?

A group of us — perhaps 18-25 (about a quarter of the class) will show up at dinner next week.  The emails reveal both a closeness and a warmth (disguised, often as snark) that are undiluted by the years and remind me how much I value the people with whom I grew up.  

(An unflattering shot of part of our campus.  To the left of the photograph lies the gorgeous Hudson River.  I ate French fries for lunch every day of my senior year in the round outcropping you see of that building.  French fries and sometimes a side of French fries.)

As my exhibits grow older, I suppose I tend to feel more and more nostalgic.

More soon.

xLisa

lazyjackpress asked: Hi Lisa, I just thought you might like the ties and bowties we're making at over at Lazyjack Press. They're essentially a "go to hell" take on Hermés and Ferragamo. A few of the designs are Red Solo Cups, Kegs and Eggs, and Irish Carbombs. We'd love to get you some hi res images or samples if you're interested. Ps. The original Preppy Handbook sits on my nightstand like a Bible (but more fun). Cheers!

Ooh!  Maybe the girl I just answered will check out your Lazyjack bowties.  Post some pictures so we can see them.

nauticalstriper-deactivated2013 asked: Hello, Lisa! I have a VERY important question concerning bowties. My boyfriend has been a repeat offender of wearing (dare I say it) a clip-on!!! I'm going to buy him a real one for his birthday to match his plain black tux so he'll look especially dapper for my (college) senior ball. Anyway, my question is: what sort of tie looks good with a classic black tux? I hope to stray away from a plain black one, seersucker, or pastels. Any suggestions? You're the expert!

Your boyfriend is lucky you still date him.  I am happy that you are buying him a real bow tie.  You can do anything from a bright Social Primer tie (though experiment — some of those are too casual for black tie), to a subtle maroon polka dot from Brooks Brothers, or something more collegiate from Vineyard Vines.  (They might even make a bowtie with your school mascot or in your school colors.  Check on their website.)  

While you’re at it, accidentally “lose” those clip-ons.  Watch “How to Tie A Bowtie” videos on Youtube.

Cheers,

Lisa

terrapinstationers:

americangentility:

Hampden-Sydney College Kaleidoscope 1981.  Actually worked in conjunction with Lisa Birnbach.  The yearbook included an introduction by her.

@LisaBirnbach

Yes, it’s true.  I wish I had my copy of that Kaleidoscope.  In 2010, when I visited Hampden-Sydney again, many people brought their copies for me to sign.  What a special, preppy place.  They don’t make them like that anymore.

terrapinstationers:

americangentility:

Hampden-Sydney College Kaleidoscope 1981.  Actually worked in conjunction with Lisa Birnbach.  The yearbook included an introduction by her.

@LisaBirnbach

Yes, it’s true.  I wish I had my copy of that Kaleidoscope.  In 2010, when I visited Hampden-Sydney again, many people brought their copies for me to sign.  What a special, preppy place.  They don’t make them like that anymore.

(Source: mkeelerh)

Ivy Crazy

It’s the time of the year when this year’s high school seniors have received their envelopes (though they read their results online first) and are getting used to the idea of where they will be headed, come Fall.

It’s also a stirring moment for fans of the Ivy League.

Need I remind you that the Ivy League is made up of 8 northeastern universities for the purposes (originally and only) of athletic competition?

Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale.  That’s the story.  All together, they comprise about 59,560 students (out of 313 million Americans) if you believe Wikipedia.

First Up:  Susan Patton, a Princeton alumna from the class of 1977.  She wrote the following editorial — unbidden — to the Daily Princetonian, just because she wanted to share her advice.   

OPINION: Letter to the Editor: March 29, 2013

By SUSAN A. PATTON
Guest Contributor

Published: Friday, March 29th, 2013

Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had

Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out — here’s what you really need to know that nobody is telling you.

For years (decades, really) we have been bombarded with advice on professional advancement, breaking through that glass ceiling and achieving work-life balance. We can figure that out — we are Princeton women. If anyone can overcome professional obstacles, it will be our brilliant, resourceful, very well-educated selves.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Women and Leadership conference on campus that featured a conversation between President Shirley Tilghman and Wilson School professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, and I participated in the breakout session afterward that allowed current undergraduate women to speak informally with older and presumably wiser alumnae. I attended the event with my best friend since our freshman year in 1973. You girls glazed over at preliminary comments about our professional accomplishments and the importance of networking. Then the conversation shifted in tone and interest level when one of you asked how have Kendall and I sustained a friendship for 40 years. You asked if we were ever jealous of each other. You asked about the value of our friendship, about our husbands and children. Clearly, you don’t want any more career advice. At your core, you know that there are other things that you need that nobody is addressing. A lifelong friend is one of them. Finding the right man to marry is another.

When I was an undergraduate in the mid-seventies, the 200 pioneer women in my class would talk about navigating the virile plains of Princeton as a precursor to professional success. Never being one to shy away from expressing an unpopular opinion, I said that I wanted to get married and have children. It was seen as heresy.

For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.

Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.

I am the mother of two sons who are both Princetonians. My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless. Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.

Of course, once you graduate, you will meet men who are your intellectual equal — just not that many of them. And, you could choose to marry a man who has other things to recommend him besides a soaring intellect. But ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you.

Here is another truth that you know, but nobody is talking about. As freshman women, you have four classes of men to choose from. Every year, you lose the men in the senior class, and you become older than the class of incoming freshman men. So, by the time you are a senior, you basically have only the men in your own class to choose from, and frankly, they now have four classes of women to choose from. Maybe you should have been a little nicer to these guys when you were freshmen?

If I had daughters, this is what I would be telling them.

Susan A. Patton ’77
President of the Class of 1977

New York, N.Y.

I’d love to hear back from you about this.  (It doesn’t appeal to everyone to get hitched in college, no matter where we spend our undergraduate years.  Some of us want to live first.)  

And now it’s time for a little Pat Robertson:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NesbG-Lj2g0&feature=player_embedded

(Did this link work?)

In other words, don’t panic if you go to State.

—Lisa

Spring Forward

I do like the expression “Spring Vacation.”  I do not like the expression “Spring Break.”  I do like to call physical education “gym.”  I do not like to call it “P.E.”

More?

I love fruit.

I love peanut butter.

I hate fruit with peanut butter.

I love strawberries.

I like chocolate (sometimes I love it.)  I loathe strawberries dipped in chocolate.

I do not consider white chocolate chocolate, or even food.

I love my children.

I like whipped cream.

I would be deeply offended by seeing my children covered in whipped cream.

I dislike the word “blog” but I blog nonetheless.

Today is the first day of Exhibit C’s Spring Vacation.  This weather is no warmer than the first day of her “Winter Break,” i.e. Christmas Vacation.

One day this blog will be better designed, more interactive, and full of cool things to do and buy.  But not today.

As Pope Francis bade us all — Good night and sleep well!

Lisa