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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
HOW TO LIVE: The nogoodforme Guide to Achieving Maximum Coziness
DEEP DOWN KAT IS REALLY A FUZZY STUFFED ANIMAL
I suppose I can begin this primer by invoking the Danish concept of hygge, which I discovered in my recent sojourn to spiritual Scandinavia. Hygge (which in my mind is pronounced very incorrectly yet amusingly like "hoogly" but is really said like hu-gah) is one of those little words that means a big thing, which is the mood of well-being you get when you take pleasure in the modest, ordinary details of life; words like coziness, security, familiarity, family and comfort are invoked when describing the overall feeling of hygge. I could also tell you that coziness is all about bringing lovely, warm, toasty feelings closer to you, about corralling warmth and creating a bubble of good cheer and comfort in a harsh, cruel world. I suppose it's also a gesture of intimacy and nurturing, of others and of yourself, and that's always a good thing, spiritually speaking. Perhaps ultimately coziness is about making the world around you feel like a giant hug, which makes me feel all happy and mushy. But really, for me, creating a little emotional nest of cuddly goodness is all about indulging in my alter ego. By day I'm a striving, super-active cultured professional smarty-pants and tale-spinner, dressed in black and boots and chains, listening to death metal on my headphones and doing my city lady thing. But in the privacy of my own home, I transform into a stuffed animal. I like color! And cute things! And brightness! And cuddling and tea and slippers and charming bed companions and pajamas and pretending I live near a harbor and am writing a novel! This is my favorite thing in the world, so this is why I am always so happy when it gets chilly and grey and rainy outside. I mean, I love stark, austere beauty, in nature and fashion and art and architecture. But there's something about going from that to COLORFUNTIMECOZYGOODNESS! that makes me love life so fucking much. (Kat)
COZINESS AND HOW TO GET IT:
(1) The key is happy, comfy, soft, fuzzy, want-to-roll-around-all-day-in-them textiles. It's also a plus if they're in colors and patterns that make you happy. Naturally, the Scandinavians are genius at this -- these textiles are all done by Swedish designer Lotta Kuhlhorn, which you can read about at Huset's blog.
(2) When you cocoon, you need good tunes. Bjork's Vespertine is my favorite warm-n-fuzzy soundtrack. It's her girliest, sweetest, gossamer-awesome record and my favorite of her entire discography 'cause it makes me feel gooey with love and affection. "Heirloom" is one of my favorite songs on it:
(3) You can't be cozy when your feet are cold! I love those knitted slipper boots; I have an unconscionable number of them in different patterns and colors, that's how seriously I take this. I like ones with pom-poms on them, just so I can go around and sing that Scout Niblett song that goes "Has anyone seen my pom-poms" or however it is.
(4) I like this Aviator Nation hoodie because it's all eco-, crafted in Cali and has lightning bolts, but really the most genius thing about Aviator Nation is how delectably SOFT AND BEAUTIFUL they feel when you wear them. It doesn't really matter what they look like, because they feel sooooooo gooooooood. Everything in the whole line feels wonderfully worn in and beloved; the price is totally worth it. You have to feel it for yourself.
(5) Happy colorful pajama bottoms! Old Navy is actually genius at them. I wanted to put something even more obnoxiously patterned, but I feared for the health of my photo montage.
(6) I'm such a nerd, I even have a fragrance that I like wearing only at home. Usually this is a very foodie, gourmand-y scent, like with vanilla and caramel and creme brulee. This always shocks people who know me, but I like Juicy Couture fragrances for this because they're sweet and the bottles are so pretty. This one smells like a watermelon cupcake, which is really weird, I admit, but somehow my skin loves it.
(7) What do you do when you are holed up and being cozy? You read books and watch movies (and write and knit and do a multiplicity of hobbylike activities.) I am always fond of all of Hayao Miyazaki's films -- they're beautifully animated, with a sense of wonder and charm, but yet deal with really profound themes of nature, love, family and the like. I think he's a genius, and his movies always leave me with a happy feeling at the end of them. This is from Ponyo, his most recent film, but I also love Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.
(8) and (9) It's no secret that I'm a genuinely voracious reader; these novels by Elaine Dundy are kind of perfect for reading on chilly fall and winter moments. They're like reading fizzy martinis: they're charming and effervescent and fun, about young women in the 50s being soigne and madcap in European cities, but there's an undercurrent of something a bit more grave. I mean, really, do yourself a favor and read them...they're unexpectedly lovely. I will probably do a whole blog entry on Elaine Dundy soon; she was a very nogoodforme kind of lady.
(10) And finally: FOOD! Food is at the heart of being cozy, because it warms you from the inside and is nourishing and delicious and wonderful. I'm fond of soups galore for that ultimate cozy feeling, but other warm liquids do the trick. I have become super-fond of Roastaroma, which is coffeelike but is really a kind of chicory/barley thing with cinnamon, allspice and other goodness. It really smells like autumn in the most wonderful way: warm but just slightly sweet.
HOT CHOCOLATE WALKS ON PLANET HOTH
(L to R: Princess Leia on Planet Hoth, my furry-vest pic from Beautifully Worn; hot chocolate)
Obviously the first thing you should do to get cozy right now is read the thing I just posted about kicking apples and resisting The Carrie Bradshaw-ization Of The Self. It has cookies, kissing, Beatles, and other things that will snuggle your heart. It's good, I think.
Obviously the second thing you should do is move to Los Angeles, where it's warm enough that you can usually wander around outside in the middle of the night in winter and your bones won't freeze and shatter. Then you can go on lots of "Hot Chocolate Walks" (or, if you like fun with words, "Hot Choc Walks") instead of just hiding inside all season like a big fat bear*. Basically you just head out the door with your headphones/earbuds, preferably a few hours after nightfall, then walk to a place that sells hot chocolate. Then you buy yourself a hot chocolate, and then you drink it while walking around some more. So easy! So sweet! A few thoughts on optimizing the sweetness:
1) Put on some fuzzy and/or faux-furry clothes/accessories, like a knit hat or boots that look like animals. I used to have the most perfect Hot Choc Walk outfit; it was skinny slate-grey jeans tucked into my stupid now-dead baby-pink fake Uggs, black hoodie and pink knit scarf and my hair in two little Cinnabon-buns at either side of my head. I looked just like Princess Leia on Planet Hoth, but sadly I had to kill the fake Uggs and the whole thing just kinda fell apart. The furry vest above works good, but I'm sick of that thing now too. I so wish I'd bought that black hooded bomber jacket when I had the chance.
2) You need really dreamy songs. Like: The Dirt Of Luck by Helium, anything by White Magic, Vespertine by Bjork (which I totally typed here before realizing Kat had already written about it!). Or anything else that would probably sound perfect if you were half-asleep.
3) Cheapo instant hot chocolate beats the pants off the fancy stuff, IMHO. I'm especially fond of how Swiss Miss gets that layer of cocoa scuzz on top and there's those little granules of undissolved mix and sometimes the tiniest lamest marshmallows in all the world. But if you're gonna do it fancy, go to a place that makes its hot cocoa from milk instead of water, and get it with soymilk, and ask for marshmallows. Any cafe worth its salt should totes have marshmallows on hand during the cold months, I do believe. Or you could bring your own jar of Fluff.
You're on your own for the rest. If you're a sap like me, maybe you could wander over to the residential streets and go "ooh/ahh" at the Christmas lights wrapped around palm trees. If you're secretly a five-year-old, also like me, maybe you could make up your holiday wishlist in your head. And if you're someone who obsessively romanticizes everything that ever happens to her - not like me at all, WINK! - maybe you could mentally record every moment and then go back home and write in your notebook about stuff like the adorable pack of long-haired skater boys with black jeans and little-kid teeth hiding out behind the donut shack, smoking a joint you wish they'd share with you so your "muscles would melt into something ooey-gooey like hot caramel on a McDonald's sundae." Dreaming of hot caramel sundaes = coziest. (Liz)
*Not that we don't love big fat bears.
The Beastie Boys, "Do It"-
The statement "I prefer autumn to winter" is true about me, in the same way that "I'd rather get shot in the face than drown to death" is true about me too.
I have no interest in coziness. If I'm cozy, it means I'm cold. I wish I could just, like, quit being Canadian, move to LA or Savannah, stop fucking complaining, and enjoy life as the brass-skinned, sun-bleached, June-born brat I was born to be. Doesn't immigration law realize that I'm Baby Lemonade?!?! I live for the extroverted recklessness of the spring & summer months. If you want to hear about how rad it is to drink cocoa before an open fire while wrapped up in a polar-fleece blanket wearing a plaid flannel and snowflake-print long-johns, you're lookin' at the wrong member of the nogoodforme troika.
Life has thrown me a lot of curveballs this past while, and I hate it all like celery, like summer's end. According to my Pocket Oxford, "coziness" and "comfort" are synonymous. I derive little comfort from hot coffee, hoodies, leaf-crunch, bonfire-smell, and sweet potatoes. Nothing that used to work works anymore; I want everything to be different. I don't want to listen to the Beatles or the Kinks. This October, I want to listen to the Beastie Boys, because they are comforting to me. Low-pressure and upbeat.
When I was thirteen years old, I loved the Beastie Boys more than I will ever love any band again- you can't best first love, you know? I have every word to every Beastie Boys song memorized; I wish I could prove that to you somehow. I prove it to myself every day, it's a game I play. Cut down a side street, mouth along involvedly. It says a lot about "where I'm at" these days, that I bought the Beastie Boys remasters before I bought the Beatles'. My favourite Beastie Boys songs right now are the peppier tracks from Hello Nasty ("The Grasshopper Unit," "The Negotiation Limerick File," "Unite"), the stupider tracks from Ill Communication ("B-Boys Makin' With The Freak Freak," "Do It"), "Brass Monkey," "The Sounds of Science," and the Fatboy Slim remix of "Body Movin'", which reminds me of the Full House theme song, in a weird dream-way I don't understand.
On the first day of The Great Beastie Boys Renaissance of October 2009, I felt like I hadn't smiled in a hundred years. But those funny rhymes are like a trance. I think of nothing but these silly words I know so silly good, and I can't stop smiling! I grin so big at the part of "Get It Together" when Horovitz says Ione Skye's the cheese and he's the macaroni- isn't that romantic? Like 23483092843 dudes smiled back at me, and then I smiled at how dudes thought I was smiling at them when really I was smiling at Ad-Rock saying he's got the flow where he grabs his dick. It was Thanksgiving Monday. I ate a slice of cinnamony carrot cake, probably cozy/cosy in the way it's supposed to be, and then I walked to my Dad's apartment. I lip-synched about how I'm not the Son of Sam and/or am a 6.7 on the Richter Scale, and "ran into" a dumb bitch I wasn't friends with in high school. She gave me a pitying smile-sneer; it said "Surprise, surprise. Laura Faulds is still blatantly a crazy person."
"But-" I retorted, I mean, mouthed: "I got the motherfuckin' old-school flavor, that you savor, so watch your behavior." At Dad's, I made myself the "salad of my dreams," featuring chopped-up Tofurkey leftovers and his magical brown-sugary sweet potatoes on the drums. I drank a glass of red wine, and we watched Jeopardy! I decided I was going to take Jeopardy! very seriously; like, actually play, as if I were a real contestant, on that exact episode. I even went so far as to answer all the answers in the form of a question! Aloud. I wondered how many times I have watched Jeopardy! with my Dad. I wondered how many times one of us has made the point that, really, Jeopardy! success comes down to one's buzzer-pushing ability. Something like a thousand, I bet. 775?
I did a crossword puzzle in the bathtub; "When the snow is falling/ Then I am GONE." Self-picturing: I am drinking a Mai Tai. Self-pitying: I had really bad insomnia. Oh this sorry slip of a soul! Who derives coziness only from middlebrow semi-pleasures like how Alex Trebek smugly play-acts as if he knows it all, or, "I got attractions like I'm Elvis Costello." I gave myself worthless anxiety over what bullshit lies I could tell you all right now. What hat can I take a picture of? Am I, as a writer, able to explain why sweet potatoes taste like fall? Who gives a- I hate fall.
I don't know if a lot of things just happen to be hard right now, or if it is that I have destroyed enough old coping mechanisms to realize that this is how life actually feels, in real life. But I do know that I'm not alone in feeling lost or scared, especially when the sun quits shining. It doesn't matter- sometimes- how woolly your socks are, or how much sage is in your stew. The sun is a blanket, but you don't own that anymore. Anything is better than silence. Listen to the music you listened to when you first became you, and do the thing you and your Dad have done the most together. Do it today. Promise me. Okay? (Laura Jane)
Tags: Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz, Alex Trebek, bears, Bjork, boots that look like animals, Canadiana, Christmas, coziness, doing it fancy, fall, Hayao Miyazaki, Helium, hot chocolate, Jeopardy, L.A. rules, Laura Hates Fall, Laura Hates Winter, Mai Tais, McDonald's sundaes, Princess Leia, skaters, tea, The Beastie Boys, walking, winter, writing
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