December 2015

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Self-Lo(ath)ving.

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[Photography by Alexandra Wolf]

It’s 4:10 am and I’m making a frenzied dash up the street to my celebrity boss’s apartment in a panic stricken quest to get her up and airport ready.

With droves of fans already lining up outside of Barnes & Nobles stores in Cleveland and Chicago, respectively, there’s no such thing as late, sick, or lightheaded (due to mass sleep deprivation + unexpected sprints) when it comes to preparation of aforementioned diva. Although I packed my carry-on the night before and spent the greater portion of the weekend ensuring that all of the spa services that she requested have been booked and triple confirmed, I failed to factor in the difficulty that apparently comes with hailing a cab at 4 am in New York City. With no mobile options in sight, I commence an awkward sprint throughout ten pitched black, snow-laden streets.

Utterly convinced that I’m going to die via an aggressive bout of frostbite or the blunt force trauma that occasionally coincides with running through the streets of Manhattan alone at 4am, I start talking to God, begging Him to send anything.moving my way. From what I’ve been told by the other girls in the office (because, invariably, I’m the newbie), one mistake, no matter how trivial or innocuous it might seem, could easily beget the wrath of a no holds barred emotionally unstable reality TV star meltdown unto me. As such, not only do I manage to ensure that we make it to the airport well in advance of boarding time, but I spend the next forty eight hours running (literally) on coffee and manic energy alone, ensuring that no task – however bizarre or demeaning that it might seem — is ever completed without precise attention to minute detail.

Upon return to New York, I’m immediately instructed to unpack my boss’s suitcase, and although I pass out on the floor of her walk-in closet while doing so, I find that I’m satisfied with myself today because, despite mass sleep deprivation, prematurely raised blood pressure, and a .05 mg increased clonopin dosage, I got the job done and I can rest assured that I’ve given it my all.

In law school, my final semester consists of studying for a mock bar exam, which is a grueling prerequisite to graduation. As such, I spend about eighteen hours a day locked in a library examining everything from Article 9 of the United States Constitution to the specificities of criminal procedure. Foregoing any and all social interactions, and most forms of basic personal hygiene, as well (overshare?), I spend my “free time” either on the phone with my therapist or running like a lunatic on the treadmill at 2 am. For six months, I go without seeing friends or family, barely brush my hair, and break down crying in front of a particularly smarmy professor in the middle of the library, which, in law school, in definitely NOT a safe space. But although I’m under an intense amount of pressure, I’m once again completely satisfied with myself. This is what you should be doing with your life, I insist, although I never really ask myself why I consider that to be the case.

I’m in Central America and I’m producing a shoot for MSNBC. After working four consecutive twenty-hour days under dangerous and emotionally taxing conditions, my team and I are stopped by local police. Detained on the side of the road for three and a half hours, our passports are seized and we have little to no idea what’s going to happen to us. Have you ever seen the show Jailed Abroad? With an onslaught of police vehicles continuing to drive up, firing off quick fire exchanges in Spanish about the odd ball group of Americans with cameras and microphones aplenty, I should probably be scared, and to a certain extent I am, but my level of exhaustion is so extreme that I can only manage to take a seat on the sidewalk and stare off into a lake bereft of energy, adrenaline, or any of the other requisite emotions that might ordinarily be induced by such an occurrence. Upon entry back into the US, I give myself a huge pat on the back; you’ve done a good job this time, Brooke.

An interesting observation: I seem to have two speeds at which I operate – Mach 10 or passed out in bed.  During this shoot for instance, I avoid traffic by hopping out of my cab and sprinting seven city blocks to meet my photographer.  I hop on top of a bolder in Central Park in thigh highs and a mini skirt to get a good shot and the proceed to strip down in front of a gift shop (not entirely, but closely enough) in December to change for my next look.  But when I’m not completing my work in a way that’s entirely exhaustive and all consuming, I tend to get incredibly down on myself, insisting that I’m perpetually lazy and wasting my life away. Attribute it to some deeply rooted childhood issue, or a culture that seems to propagate the glorification of busy, but whatever the reason is, I think it’s enormously important to learn what work-life balance is.

During a recent conversation with my almost ninety-year-old Grandfather, he suggested that “things are weird now,” and told me that he used to work from 9am – 6pm and that he doesn’t “understand the hours of today.” 9am-9pm? Why? After raising five children and providing them with a financially sound enough upbringing, I wonder if he, too, ever admonished himself for failing to put in those ten zillion extra hours — you know, those that provoke anxiety attacks, physical responses, and nonsensical tears. Although I love my blog and feel incredibly blessed to get to do this for a living, I think about my upcoming honeymoon and wonder if it’s even remotely appropriate to ask my fiancé to snap pictures of my OOTD’s throughout our various pit stops in Asia. I mean, we only get one honeymoon, and while the scenic opportunities are unquestionably visually spectacular, when is time to put down the camera?

I really don’t know. But right now, I’m off to go get my second iced latte of the day because I have about ten more hours of work to tackle. 😉

X,

B

NoteBrooke’s New Holiday Gift Giving Guide.

Dear NoteBrooke,

For the greater portion of my adult life, I’ve purchased my parent’s Christmas presents with their own American Express cards, respectively, the numbers of which I kept stowed in a Word Document somewhere within the recesses of my Mac Mini. Opting to reference their personal information ONLY for excessive expenditures that surpassed the value of my monthly stipend medical emergencies, every December twenty-third, I would both commence and complete my holiday shopping, wrap everything up –- corners askew, double sided tape visibly exposed — and then emerge home for the holidays baring the same Polo knit sweaters and Tiffany pens that I had already purchased for several consecutive Christmases prior.

I have an emphatic need for instant gratification (Hello, my name is Brooke, and I can’t stop watching Patrick Ta makeup tutorials and then partaking in Super Market Sweep- style quests to find and purchase all of the requisite products needed to recreate the look), which prompts me to [over]indulge in apparel and cosmetic related expenditures approximately eleven months out of the calendar year. Strangely enough, though, in the same way that I wasn’t, well, the best gift giver ever to walk God’s green Earth, I was never particularly impassioned by the idea of compiling a list of quasi-desired items that I hoped would emerge under the Christmas tree for myself either.

Attribute it to my recently diagnosed closet control freak nature, but I consider my wardrobe to be a living, breathing entity of sorts — a denim, leather and silk based bestie who I’m acquainted with on the same primal level that, let’s say, a new mother might be with her infant spawn. In the past few years, especially, my wardrobe has become one of my foremost focuses, something that I’ve carefully curated with the utmost precision to consist only of those items that I covet the most. My obsessively/compulsively/manically chosen pieces effectuate a grand scale portion of both my personal identity and my career, so naturally, I’m very specific about what I invite into the walls of my closet(s). That said, when requesting a Christmas gift, how can I expect someone [of sound mind] to meticulously differentiate between the nude and dusty green shades of the Isabel Marant Etoile Dicker Ankle Booties that I’m so desperately longing for?

Between my insatiable need for instant gratification and the fact that the specificity of the items on my wish list rival the complexity of extreme medical procedures (think septal myotomies and such), until a few years ago, it would’ve been totally reasonable to suggest that, invariably, I wasn’t the most festive or fun participant in the way of gift giving/receiving.

So what changed? Well, after a fair amount of maturing (I mean…it had to happen at some point, I guess) – pouts, kicks, wines — and the introduction of some particularly generous people into my life who noticeably enjoyed the act of gift giving as a result of the personalized sentiment that it denoted, I, too, came to understand the value of pre-planning a holiday list and bringing it to fruition for the purpose of celebrating loved ones. As such, in the past couple of years, especially, I’ve ruminated over holiday present ideas well in advance of December twenty-third and then searched for customized options that I felt were conducive to the specific personalities, quirks and tastes of those who I was gifting. Isn’t that the essence of what giving someone a present is all about?

In lieu of this semi-recent conversion from Scrooge to Santa, I decided to make a holiday gift guide that’s based on all of those carefully curated, tried and true items that can be found within the walls of my own closet. By doing it this way, I can personally vouch for all of the pieces that I recommend because, well, there are some major benefits to my previously mentioned need for instant gratification and OCD prompted purchases of wildly coveted items – I can now pass them along to you too.

See?! So it’s not all about me after all. 😉

X,

B