New and improved and more cheerful mani!

Here's a topic I spend far more energy thinking about than I should: my nails.

I go through these seasonal/annual/semi-annual cycles where I'll switch between regular weekly manicures, gel manicures every other week, nail art that's probably inappropriate for someone my age, and no-polish-ever (during this latter phase, the thought that actually runs through my mind on a daily basis is: Anna hates nail polish. You know what I'm talking about.). The cycles depend on the weather, my mood (happy = more color and experimentation), and whether I have any important travel or events on the horizon and/or am looking for an easy conversation starter at my fingertips, literally.

Over the past few weeks, I've been in a gel mani mood—my nails have been healthier this summer than they have been in a while (I'm chalking it up to all the wild Alaskan Copper River salmon I ate in May—I dunno why, I go through intense food phases too). The last few weeks I've just been doing solid color OPI manis at my local nail salon. Today, on my way home from a 10 a.m. AbFab showing (favorite thing: seeing mid-morning movies, also seeing AbFab at Cinepolis in Chelsea was only $8!) I stopped by Valley and got this glittery star manicure. And I'm obsessed with it. I can't stop running my fingers over it and looking at it. It feels weird when I type.

Anyhoo, if you're looking for a great nail art tech, I booked Xue at Valley. She's A+ (and also hilarious).

Questions my reflexologist asked me in the last hour

— How many police officers were killed in Baton Rouge?
— What is happening in America?
— Do you have a boyfriend?
— Why don't you have a boyfriend? 
— Are you going to try to find a boyfriend?
— Do you want to have kids?
— It's not too late to have kids in your 40s!
— Do you have a Ph.D?
— What were you so busy doing in your 20s that you didn't get married?
— How much did you pay for your apartment?
— How many square feet is your apartment?
— Do you like your new job?
— What are you going to do next?
— What do you do? (Cue: me trying to explain what a "Digital Director at a fashion news B2B" is in Mandarin, a language I speak at the conversational level of a 5-year-old)
— Do you work out?
— Aren't there a lot of gyms around here?
— Why don't you run outside in the mornings?

Now I need a nap.

I have reached peak stuff

I've unintentionally/intentionally sort of been on a spending detox since early June—partially because I've known for months that I was planning on resigning from my full-time job in July (more on that later), but also because it's summer and every year when I overspend on fun summer clothes, shoes, and accessories, I regret it, because, well, let's face it, by late September I'm back in boots and sweaters. Another, and perhaps the most important, reason I've seriously cut back on buying things is: I think I've reached peak stuff.

Remember this part of Up In The Air?

It goes something like this:
How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel ’em? Now I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things. The things on shelves and in drawers, the knick-knacks, the collectibles. Feel the weight as that adds up. Then you start adding larger stuff, clothes, table-top appliances, lamps, linens, your TV.

The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. And you go bigger. Your couch, bed, your kitchen table. Stuff it all in there. Your car, get it in there. Your home, whether it’s a studio apartment or a two bedroom house. I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now try to walk. It’s kind of hard, isn’t it? This is what we do to ourselves on a daily basis. We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. And make no mistake, moving is living.
I love that movie. And, whether or not it's a sign that I'm a secret sociopath or wannabe-hermit, I really identify with that character George Clooney plays in the film—even more the older I get.

There's an idea that I've been turning over in my mind for the past few weeks. I've been secretly calling it "The Freedom of 38." More on that later, too. But since 2016 rolled around, I've had a bad case of cabin fever. Maybe it's because I've hardly been able to travel at all this year, or I haven't had the creative outlet this year that I've been so lucky to have all throughout my career, or I'm just not satisfied with the current state of my life. It's probably all of those things, but right now, at this moment, all I want is as much intellectual and creative freedom as possible. I've never felt so strongly about anything career-related before; if I don't have freedom, if I don't get out of this box I'm in, I feel like I'll go crazy.

Somehow, freedom from spending on stuff has become symbolic in my own mind of discipline, disconnecting from a corporate culture, and maybe something having to do with temperance of, like, the lifestyle I lead, which I'm trying to re-approach in a quality-over-quantity way. Don't worry, I'm not doing anything extreme. I still bought a $32 mascara last week—I just didn't, like, on a whim buy the $2,000 handbag. For August I'm thinking about doing something so cliche I'll never say it out loud at a dinner party: spending money on experiences rather than things. It makes much more sense at my age (literally do not need any more handbags, at least in the foreseeable future) and I'm pretty sure "experiences" is what's been missing from my life over the past six months.

So yeah. Tl;dr: I quit my job and I'm not buying as much stuff. I'm dreaming big, but first I'm taking baby steps.

Thing I've been doing every morning

I watched this video today and I liked it. Every morning this week I've woken up at 5:30 a.m. to write. Mostly because I miss writing and I don't get to do it during the day, but also because I want to exercise that part of my brain again. After five months of not writing every day at work, I feel myself getting rusty—words don't flow as easily, sentence construction is starting to feel stilted.

In my first year at Dartmouth, my SAT Verbal score placed me out of freshman writing and directly into a writing seminar—where I proceeded to bomb in the most spectacular manner. My professor gave me a D and told me, in no uncertain terms, that I should never attempt a writing course again. So I didn't. I think I took one history of English class as part of my Linguistics major requirements, but other than that I steered clear of the English department, and any kind of writing, because I thought I couldn't do it.

Now, as a full-fledged grown-up, I've been a professional writer for more than a decade—I've written for major outlets and nearly every editorial platform I can name (magazines, newspapers, books, web, social)—I know myself better than to still believe what one man told me more than 20 years ago.

Tl;dr Make Better Stuff

I went to get a pedicure today—the Marine Spa Pedicure at Rehoboth Spa Lounge is my favorite, ask for Maya or Katie—and while I was sitting in the massage chair (massage chair!) I found myself deep in a Yahoo-Tumblr-Marissa-Meyer longread, probably 2,000 words in. At that point I got distracted by a noise or something, looked up, picked up my Starbucks iced tea, and was looking around the nail salon when it occurred to me (yes, I have a short attention span) that even though I'd read thousands of words of a good deep-dive feature, I had no idea what site I was reading it on, had no idea who the byline belonged to, and had no idea how I got there.

This surprised me because, well, I work in digital media, specifically content, and everywhere I've worked over the last six-ish years, we've all spent a whole lot of time, energy, and money trying to figure out how to bring readers to sites through side doors (the vast majority of readers of any site I've worked at don't come through the homepage—they come from search, social media, newsletters, etc.). Usually I pay attention to what I'm reading—I'm fairly selective about what sites I click on, I like to scan lists and stories, and I'm always looking for new writers, so I almost always pay attention to bylines. But that one conscious moment in the salon where I realized I was reading something just because it was good and the universe and muscle memory had colluded to bring me to that page without a second thought—it kind of threw me for a loop.

What does this mean to me in my day job besides continuing to do what most digital publishers are all already doing: putting as many clever/touching/informative/teasing/best practice social posts and links out there as possible, optimize the heck out of newsletters, and hope readers at large share compelling content on their own social platforms, of their own volition (the most powerful endorsement)? I guess the most reductionist takeaway from this is that to get new eyeballs on your site and to keep people on your site for more than six seconds, you have to make better stuff: write better stories, produce better videos, create better editorial. (I know that seems like a master-of-the-obvious statement and super-unprofound, but if we look around the internet, it seems that "making better stuff" is something lots of publishers aren't really prioritizing these days.)

Aaaaand this post is pretty much 100 percent tl;dr.

Epilogue: I backtracked. This is the Tumblr-Yahoo-Marissa Meyer story I was reading. It lives on Mashable and the byline is Seth Flegerman. I got to it via the Digg daily newsletter, which is the email newsletter I open most. Second is the Medium email newsletter.

How I write

I don't really remember writing my first book. I remember everything before the writing and everything immediately after the writing, but trying to remember the writing process itself, I draw a complete blank.

Here's what I do remember: I procrastinated finishing my proposal for weeks and weeks (six, to be exact) before my ever-patient agent, Mel Flashman at Trident Media Group, called me one Friday and asked, "What are you doing on Sunday?" Nothing, I replied. So she summoned me to the bar at Eleven Madison Park where, over the course of the afternoon and many, many, many cocktails, she asked me questions and I answered them as she took notes on a yellow legal pad. In the evening, as we exited the bar, she ripped off the dozen or so pages she'd jotted down, handed them to me and said, "Type this up."

After the book was sold and contracts were signed, I had about five months to turn in a manuscript to my editor, the amazing Kathryn Huck, who was the executive editor at HarperCollins at the time. I was still working full-time at the New York Post and am a procrastinator by nature, so didn't start writing until about a month out from the due date. The night before my manuscript was due, I really only had about 72 pages down. But that was when my computer (a blue Toshiba PC) bit the dust, died, fried itself, never turned on again. I was up all night totally freaking out, and at 10 a.m. the next morning was at the Apple store in SoHo buying a new laptop. I emailed my agent, who emailed my editor, who gave me a five week extension, which pinned my final manuscript deadline on the last day of September 2005's New York Fashion Week.

Now, during fashion week at the New York Post that season, I was not only covering shows all day and writing show reviews in the afternoons and evenings, I was also writing a daily fashion gossip column—I can't remember what it was called in its first iteration that season, but in later years it was renamed "The Hi-Lo" for no good reason except my surname is Lo and my editor thought the title was amusing. So that meant that after a full day at shows and filing reviews to deadline, I would go out to events and parties, gather items, file for first, second, and third deadlines (the Post was printed in three editions at the time, with closing times of 8:30 p.m., 11:30 p.m, and 1:30 a.m., respectively). By the time I got home after attending my last party of the night (sober because I was meant to be writing a book) and phoning in my last items, I was beat—but would stay up until three or four in the morning writing, to finish my manuscript in time.

No wonder I don't remember the writing process.

Somehow it all worked out. I handed my manuscript in on the last day of fashion week around 3 p.m. and immediately went home and passed out for 15 hours. My book was published on May 6, 2006 and that morning I did my first live TV segment ever when I was interviewed by Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America.

Recently I've been thinking a lot about the times in my life when I've been most productive, longform writing-wise. There are really only two time periods I can think of: the first, when I was writing my first master's thesis and spent ten hours each day for months on end reading and writing in the Bodleian Library; the second, when I procrastinated my book twice and basically wound up writing it between midnight and 3 a.m. during fashion week. I guess the takeaway here is that, for me, it's not the circumstances and environment that matters when it comes to being productive—it's a looming deadline that, if missed, would result in scary consequences.

I tried daily vlogging

Last week I tried daily vlogging. I lasted two days. I think that people who have office jobs can't really daily vlog? Or, I mean, I can daily vlog, but man those vlogs are boring. Cases in point:

And's here's one that's even more boring:

Need to figure out how to do better. Please stay tuned.

Twitter mysteries

There are only three accounts on Twitter I follow who I haven't met irl:

1. Neetzan Zimmerman: Web traffic legend
2. Chloe Sims: Favorite TOWIE person; also, clearly the smartest person on that show
3. The Queen Adelaide: Pub in London owned by my friends who owned the now-defunct George

May Favorites is live!

My May Favorites video is live—and it's a very things-I-bought-in-England sort of month.

Two things I love about jet lag

1. A half day to myself before my real day even begins: I don't mind the London-to-New-York jet lag at all—waking up at 4 a.m. the first few days I'm back in NY, I get at least five hours to myself, to think, to cook breakfast, to catch up on YouTube, to blog, before I have to go to the office and face real life. So far this week I've cooked THREE breakfasts (egg + toast + beans, egg + beans, omelette + salad) which feels like a luxury during the work week.

2. A really good excuse for turning in early: As an old, I prefer to fill my evenings with dinner parties, catchup dinners with friends, or (my favorite) nothing at all. Nothing better than a teeny tiny bit of jet lag (and that aforementioned waking-up-at-4-a.m.) to use as an excuse to beg off party plans and, instead, spending a quiet night at home (and going to bed at 9:30). Insert heart emoji here.

Some post-vacation thoughts

I always come back from the UK jet lagged (woke up at 4 a.m. today) and hooked on cooked breakfasts (made myself eggs, beans, and wholegrain toast this morning).

Earlier this May I realized I hadn't been on a plane in nearly six months—which, if you know me in real life, was a pretty clear sign that I had not been quite myself for a while. I think in between starting a new job in January that's turned out to be a completely different office culture from any place I've ever worked, getting my apartment in better working order (new furniture, built-in-shelving, an overall rethink and refresh), and other miscellaneous feelings of directionless-ness (or new direction, not sure yet), I really needed to get away. So about ten days ago I booked a last-minute trip to my hometown (where I was born, lived until I was 5-years-old and later went to grad school) Oxford to clear my head, reconnect with myself, and to take a few days of quiet time in order to figure out what I want to do with my time, my life, my career.

For more than a decade now, I've been so lucky to have a career that's been my life—in the best possible way. Working in media has been everything I've ever wanted—creatively fulfilling; working with super-fast-thinking, charismatic, driven, brilliant people; building brands from scratch, growing legacy brands; moving from print to digital and really embracing all the fun that came with working in both newspapers and online.

But it's 2016. And the more and more I talk to my friends who work in the industry (almost all my friends work in media, and if not media, then fashion), the more I realize that working in the industry is a totally different ballgame now. And while I love the internet content-for-$$$$ game—anyone who's worked with me knows "scale" is one of my favorite words—lately I've been thinking that somewhere along the lines, we've lost our way. Or I've lost my way.

Seasonal allergies + Vacation = :(

Last full day in the UK—and after a fun morning out (breakfast, walk around town, climbed to the top of Carfax Tower), I've been in my hotel room all afternoon, a prisoner to my seasonal allergies. Insert sad-face emoji here. So I thought I'd do a wee video about my mini-vacay in Oxford this week. I'm still working out the basics of filming—and, as you can tell, my on-the-street footage was shot on an iPhone and leaves lots to be desired, quality-wise. Work in progress, work in progress.

I might try to go out and get some noodles or something. Or a hot mint tea. Gonna try to stop sneezing in the meantime...

April Favorites video is live!

There are lots of reasons I'm excited for May—including warmer weather, the promise of summer, and the imminent release of the Canon G7X Mark II. But April has been a fun month of product discoveries for me. Here are some of my faves—including a weird spiked mat that helps with my computer-persons' neck and back pain.

How do you know when you're stressed?

We all know how to deal with stress—well, at least, we all know how we're supposed to deal with stress: exercise, yoga, meditation, therapy, contact sports, reckless behavior, vodka (just kidding about those last three). But one of the things I've always struggled with is figuring out how to tell when I'm stressed.

I think I've been stressed out since I was 11, and probably before that. I remember my teacher pulling me aside during lunch, right after I'd delivered a presentation on the life and times of Rasputin (did anyone else cover the Russian Revolution in sixth grade or was it just us?). She asked me if I was OK—which I wasn't, because I'd been under a lot of pressure having just sat for a junior high school entrance exam (#GrowingUpInNYC). I didn't even know what stress was at the time, but I definitely had it—and it took someone else to tell me in order for me to realize how much it had affected my behavior.

Even as an adult today, I so often internalize my stress that physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms manifest before I realize how far it's gone. From talking to friends, I don't think I'm alone. But in order to cope with stress—and take care of ourselves and our health—it's important to be able to identify its symptoms. Here are some weird things that happen to me—or that I find myself compulsively doing—when I'm stressed out and don't even know it.

Storytime: I was a Wilhelmina plus-size model

Here's something that I've never really discussed in great detail with very many people I know: how I became a plus-size model, got signed to Wilhelmina in New York, and what that was all like. Plus, photo evidence!

March Favorites video

...In which I talk about some other stuff and then spend half the video talking about Gianvito Rossi shoes.

My first Influenster box! L'Oreal's #EverPure kit

A couple of months ago I signed up for—a social sampling program that helps you discover new products and new brands totally free. And yesterday I received my first-ever Influenster box: an entire full-size kit from L'Oreal's new EverPure haircare collection, which included a hair mask, a leave-in treatment, shampoo, and conditioner. I can't wait to try all these items and will let you know how they are! Check out Influenster for yourself—and see what free samples fit your lifestyle. What I think is the coolest thing about the program is that the samples are selected for you based on your interests and expertise—so, like, I won't wind up with men's grooming products or pet toys, for example.

11 Things I'm Reading Right Now

One of the biggest obstacles standing between me and all my hopes and dreams (read: making more and better YouTube videos) is that I'm actually, secretly, for the most part a very boring human—at least when I'm in New York, that is. I know it seems counterintuitive—how could being in New York ever be boring? But I grew up here, and just like any place anyone spends nearly their entire life, I see the city through a lens of everyday familiarity. It's when I travel outside of New York—to places like South Dakota, Colorado, California, Kenya, Tanzania, China—that I'm invigorated and excited by my environment. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that when I'm in New York, I'm usually working 50-60 hours weeks at my day job, and on the weekends I putz around my apartment and the neighborhood, enjoying spending time with myself or with family. I wake up every morning and imagine how fun it would be to vlog my day—but then I realize that going to the office or popping a load of laundry into the machine downstairs might not make for very interesting content.

That said, I'm not going to let my little humdrum existence stop me from practicing making YouTube videos! This morning I promised myself I'd make one—because I skipped filming last weekend—so I did this one, above, which is about a pretty boring topic, I guess: books and magazines (paper products!). Maybe I'll try that thing people do and challenge myself to vlog every day for a month, just to get into the habit. Stay tuned.

I'm obsessed with #TeamGeorge on The Voice UK

OK, let's be real, I've loved Boy George since 1983. And now he's on The Voice UK, I love him even more—especially for breaking the mold and selecting singers for #TeamGeorge who look like the teenagers we all feel like on the inside.

Cody Frost:

And, last week, duet-ing Nothing Compares 2 U (I cried)

Harry Fisher:

I will always have the deepest admiration and respect for people who aren't afraid to dress and style themselves exactly how they want to and how they feel.


Every year at Thanksgiving, for a few years in a row sometime around the 10th anniversary of our college graduation, my friend Grace would come to New York to see her family and we'd spend the Saturday hanging out, catching up, doing a spot of shopping, and pontificating on where we were and how far we'd come since school (and over the last year).

In 2013, Grace and I repeated our tradition—and, I guess because both of us were sort of feeling the nearly-15-years-out-of-college are-we-in-a-rut blues, we made a new year's resolutions pact: that by the end of 2014 we'd each have started and finished a writing project and gotten boyfriends.

Well, as you've probably already deduced, I am terrible at follow-through and did neither. Grace, who's much better at being a grown-up than I am, did both. And this September she's marrying the love of her life and I am so happy for her. *Insert heart eyes emoji here*

The moral of this story is to always stick with your new year's resolutions.