Totes! A Review of That Big Black Purse in Red Sparrow

A long time ago, before I’d even bought the domain, I was brainstorming ideas as to what the angle of this website could be. We all now know that I eventually settled on the angle “Me” but it wasn’t always going to be this way. How would my blog stand out from all the other blogs written by twenty-something white women? To add to this quandary, I also like to cook, I like to read, and, at the time, was on the verge of being engaged. Just what the world needed: another lady telling you about her wedding plans and recipes and books she likes! OH; did I mention it would have been living in Chicago at the time? So it also would have been about being a twenty-something in a big city that you’ve heard of? And maybe I could have like, told you where to get deep dish pizza and see sketch comedy? The obviousness of my life was both a blessing and a curse, but I was born to stand out, baby! So after much brainstorming and careful consideration, I had decided that I would write reviews. Reviews of what? Of anything. I got really into this idea of creating the anti-Goop Goop, literally offering reviews of and recommendations for t-shirts I bought from Target or face wash from Walgreens. I guess it would have been satire, or some kind of anti-comedy, totally straight-faced venture into the absurd, or it would have been sincere and nothing more than a gallery of things I like. Think a lifestyle brand, but the most normal, boring lifestyle you can imagine (A fun thing to do with bagels is to put cream cheese on them!). And I know this wasn’t a terribly original idea, or a particularly prescient theme, or even an accurate sample of what I write, but I thought it was fun enough. I even have a draft saved from a full year before I ever posted anything on this website, one in which I explained how I feel about Goop and Gwyneth and why I, too, should be able to dispense lifestyle advice to an audience of readers.

Then, merely weeks later, the 2016 presidential election happened. I didn’t feel my anti-Goop website was the highest priority. You know, content-on-the-internet wise. So I sat on my domain and my website for a full year before I finally did anything with it, just in time to move to Los Angeles and kinda-sorta make that the theme? I guess? Katie moves to LA, here are some stories? About some stuff?

But I am here today to finally return to this certified-gold idea and write you a review.

A Review of That Big Black Purse in Red Sparrow 

To be clear, this is not a review of the movie, Red Sparrow, which stars Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton and a guy who looks suspiciously like Putin in the role of Evil Russian Uncle. No. This is a review of that big black purse Dominika Erogova (J. Law) totes around from Spy Job to Spy Job. That’s basically the extent of “spying” in this movie, by the way: Dominika just casually strolling from Spy Location to Spy Location, like she’s going to get coffee or to catch a movie or to just spend a day getting in some quality Me Time. And while she is Spying, she carries this enormous black leather tote bag, which holds her Spy Stuff, probably. Here’s a picture:

Photo courtesy of purseforum, a website where you can ask the internet where to buy purses you see in movies!

After a decent amount of Google image searching, I’ve come to realize that she has this purse in nearly every Spy Stuff scene in the movie. It’s how we know she’s in Spy Mode! It’s also how we can assume her back and neck probably hurt real bad. It’s how we can assume she has an umbrella on her at all times. It’s how we can assume she stashes restaurant to-go boxes if she needs to. I like to imagine she was eating a pub burger or Thai food seconds before having to do Spy Stuff, asked for a box, and then laid it flat at the bottom of this purse.  She hates being wasteful! She can take that thing on a Spirit flight and not have to pay extra. This bag (there I said it, that’s a BAG) has threatened to topple over every Starbucks product display she’s ever encountered. Francis Lawrence, please release that b-roll.

Let’s break this down. Anyone who’s ever carried a purse, particularly a purse as large as the one pictured above, knows that wielding one of these babies is not always easy. My purse is the same approximate size and shape as the one pictured above, and let me tell you, I’m not spying on shit with that thing slung over my shoulder. How does Dominika Egorova do so much as bend over without that thing slipping off her shoulder and thwacking her in the face? Is her balance perfect because she is a prima ballerina for the Bolshoi? Is that the logic there? Does she lose track of all her shit in her enormous bag, like I do, or is it just an empty bag, which is the only reasonable way she could use it for Spying? Let’s face it: the only spy-wear satchel for a chic ballerina is a fanny pack. Before I bought my fanny pack, I did a lot of research on fanny packs. You might be thinking: cross-body bag or nothing! On the one hand, I agree with you. On the other, there is a scene in Red Sparrow in which Dominika rolls into a bar to seduce a man (I guess? Or to get information? Both? I don’t know) and she has a cross-body…that she promptly takes off and puts on top of the bar. Dominika, girl! No! That’s not how you use it! It’s called a cross-body because it goes across your body, and then it stays that way! Anyway, may I recommend this “belt bag” by Michael Kors, for the sake of fashion and practicality.

Photo courtesy of michaelkors.com, where you can buy this item! This is not an ad. Unless. I don’t know, you want it to be.

Every scene in which Dominika meets up with someone in a bar for Spy Talk (which is like, half the movie; the other half of the movie is her being tortured) she tosses her bag up on the seat next to her, the way we all do when we’ve been carrying around a big ass purse all day. This is sloppy spy etiquette. Anyone can tamper with that purse! If Red Sparrow took place in any realm of reality (which I assure you, it does not) Dominika would a) spend an embarrassing amount of time searching for a hook underneath the bar, before giving up and assuring her friend that no, no, really, it’s fine, the hook actually gets in the way, and resting it on top of her feet b) sling the straps over the back of her chair, the purse dangling precariously, until any passing force, such as a body or a small wind, threatens to knock it off and she grows tired of apologizing to people who ran into her and then gives up and ends up resting it on top of her feet or c) put it on her lap, thinking that this big ass purse is not in the way, no not at all, I like having something to rest my arms on! before giving up and resting it on top of her feet. But in Dominika’s world of fast-paced intrigue, international secrecy, sexual manipulation, and oh yes, Spy Stuff, there is always an open seat next to her for her purse. No one will give her a dirty look. No one will fuck with it. No one will be like, why did this woman bring her laptop to a bar? It’s all good for our friend Red Sparrow.

God bless Vulture for doing a full review of Jennifer Lawrence’s bangs in this movie. I am relieved, frankly, to see that I was not the only movie-goer that was totally distracted by the aesthetic impracticalities of this character. Just read that article for all the things I thought about being a spy WITH BANGS. As many of you know, I had bangs for a lot of years (RIP my bangs! They’re gone…for now; don’t tell the banner image of this website). The idea of a) having long, thick hair b) plus bangs c) in winter d) plus that big ass purse is making me sweat on the spot. That was me for many a Chicago winter! I tried to find a picture of myself with long hair and bangs and winter outerwear and my purse but I couldn’t find one. You want to know why? Because you’re a sweaty, miserable mess for all of winter when you have that many layers of stuff on, and you don’t want anyone to capture that look. How Dominika pulled off anything in a calm, cool, and collected manner is literally beyond me.

In conclusion, I give the big black purse in Red Sparrow one out of four purses. Dominika Egorova has already been through enough, the last thing her mental and emotional health needs is to have a panic attack because she can’t find her chap stick in an endless sea of interior pockets despite it just being here a second ago!

Besides, the only purse-centric scene in movie history that even matters is this one. Now this is the reality of having a purse in public.

Do you want me to review something that’s hyper-specific or mundane? Or to question how comfortable a female character would be in specific clothing or accessories? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

A Real California Girl

I have a really charming (see: “charming enough”) story that has to do with both the Oscars AND my engagement, so I’ll go ahead and tell it to you right now.

Typically when filling out your Oscar ballot, you might stumble a bit over the technical award nominations. If you don’t struggle, then that means you’re either in the industry, or kind of a film geek, or you checked the Vegas odds beforehand (which is a very effective method for winning an Oscar pool!). I did fairly well with my tech awards this year, thanks in part to a very personal encounter I had with one of the categories. Sound Mixing and Sound Editing? Had to be Dunkirk! I did not even hesitate (or Google the projected winner) when selecting this movie for both sound categories. This is because it’s the loudest fucking movie….ever? Ever. And I know that not because I saw it, but because the movie was too loud for Tony to propose.

Upon finding out a proposal was imminent, I started listing Katie-approved proposal locations. Definitely did not hint; I named names. I did this because I don’t like surprises, and because I had made it very clear that if there was another living, breathing soul within a city block of being asked to marry anyone, I would say no. Some of my top picks for the occasion were “Alone, in our apartment, with all the curtains drawn,” and “Alone, on top of a mountain, where no one else lives nor has traveled to in decades.” Tony wisely took these into consideration, but ultimately came up with an idea of his own. It was a good one, for all intents and purposes: We would go to our favorite movie theatre, on a quiet Thursday night, wait until the auditorium was cleared out, and do it there. Management had even told him that they would “wait to clean up popcorn or whatever,” giving us our total privacy.

Well guess the fuck what went into this theatre a full week earlier than it was supposed to, because it was going to be a big hit and make gobs of money?

It was Dunkirk!

When Tony called the theatre early in the day to make sure we would still have our privacy, he was met with a “Sorry man, but we just got Dunkirk. We’re expecting a lot of people. Can’t guarantee they won’t be milling around.”He was told he could use the small blackbox theatre next door to the large one, but no guarantees about anything because Dunkirk, baby! And sure enough, after we had our final dinner as un-engaged people (where I asked questions like, “How do you feel about asking me to marry you tonight? Was it hard to find pants that hide the ring box? Are you nervous right now?” Because I totally knew what was happening, I hate surprises!) , we headed towards the movie theatre where we saw a line forming from more than a block away. And once directly in front of the theatre, we were met with the deafening roar of bomber planes, sporadic gun fire, and Kenneth Branagh shouting. This was what we heard standing outside the building, from the sidewalk! Even if we managed to find a place to be physically alone inside, it wouldn’t change the fact that this special moment would forever be punctuated by the staccato of bullets leaving machine guns and Tom Hardy like, screaming into a mask of some kind (like always, am I right, heh heh, it’s a typecasting joke). So we kept walking….and never got engaged!!!! Just kidding, we just did it somewhere else.

And that’s why I knew that Dunkirk would win both sound Oscars. Which it did! Next year, I recommend you go and stand outside some movie theatres to hear which are loudest. (“Loud” doesn’t actually translate to “best sound mixing and editing” but…this time it did, so.) Then, use that intel to vote on your Oscar ballot. Now that’s some sound advice!

There are a bunch of other cool things happening for me, too. For example, I’m growing out my bangs and wearing denim-on-denim far more often. Oh, and I’m still sneaking walnuts into most of our meals, even meals that don’t necessarily need walnuts. I guess you could say I’m becoming a real California girl. The other day at Lassens, our local health food store where I like to buy produce and discretely look for celebrities, a tall handsome man approached me. Seconds before, I had heard him explaining to someone that the mouth is like an ecosystem, and toothpaste kills all the good bacteria that the ecosystem needs. So like, let’s all stop using toothpaste, you know? In retrospect, I think it’s very possible that he was explaining this to his 10-year-old daughter, who was manning some kind of merch table. But it’s also very possible that he was explaining it to one of the countless people who have been searching for a disruptor to Big Toothpaste. Anyway, the tall handsome man approached me and handed me a travel-size tube of toothpaste and a travel-size bottle of mouthwash, explained that these are the products he and his wife make, that they’re totally free, that they consist only of the “good stuff, none of the bad stuff,” that he would love it if I used them for a one-week trial and then take note of the differences between his product and whatever I use now, and then he turned to head back to his merch table, stopped himself and said, “It’s aloe! All aloe. None of that charcoal stuff. Aloe. You will never have whiter teeth. Never!” The man looked like Armie Hammer and the logo design of his dental hygiene company looked like it was pulled from the Scientology branding library. This is all to say, yes, my teeth have all fallen out, but the aloe really does make the gums soft. And I’ve attained total clarity! What more could I ask for? A handsome stranger offers me a “life-changing” product that will change the way I think about my teeth and my life. If that’s not the LA dream, then baby, I don’t know what is.

 

 

Facing the Music (about all the hair on my face)

A favorite game I play with myself is to open the internet browser on my phone and compare the open tabs to one another. I feel this is the truest representation of a person: impulse searches, emergency searches, drunk searches, bored searches, I-know-I-recognize-you-but-from-which-show searches. Tabs with noble causes or lofty ideals: a link to Save the Food; a New Yorker article about immigration; a list of most anticipated books to come in 2018. Tabs with no lofty ideals, but I will keep open forever: images of lewd cake toppers; a direct link to a Florida Orange Juice commercial featuring Robert Loggia. And then there is another tab, one that I have returned to again and again, because it is too important to dismiss.

It’s the search results for “best bleach creme.”

What are you trying to bleach? You might ask.

It is my mustache,  I would say in response.

I’ve written about this topic before (or at least I did years ago on some other now-defunct blog) and the topic comes up so often because it’s on my face and I look at it everyday. I am also a vain, vain woman who still maintains a host of crippling physical insecurities, so obviously I am aware of it, and yes, I think about it all the time.

A brief history: I started getting my upper lip and eyebrows waxed when I was, I believe, 12. It was necessary. I walked into my first day of 7th grade, fresh from the full facial waxing, and I was greeted by a classmate saying, “Awww. Katie got her eyebrows waxed!” And I was like How can she tell but, come on, you could tell. I had a whole new, hairless face! And it was awesome. I continued to get my face waxed every 4 weeks for the next 10 years solid. Then I moved to Chicago and just stopped doing it. It was crazy how quickly I went from being fully dependent on getting waxed (I would drive home from college to have it done) to just not seeing it as a necessity. It was a financially-motivated decision, a I-don’t-have-time-to-research-this-I-don’t-even-know-where-the-grocery-store-is decision, a I-don’t-think-I-care-about-this-anymore decision. All the anxiety about what I looked like was eaten up by the anxiety of being a new college grad and not knowing what to do next. And then that anxiety turned into a different one, evolving and expanding and taking on the form of things that had never before been anxiety-inducing. And so it goes.

And yet, here we are, back on the upper lip train. The truth is that I never fully got off.  I have used creme bleach off and on over the years and I like it so much because, frankly, it doesn’t hurt. Getting your lip waxed hurts. I had a good callous built up for a number of years but I don’t know that I can go back. I was braver when I was young, willing to do whatever it took to be smooth and hair free. But now, I just don’t wanna. I’m scared! I’m not going back. I also had an unfortunate incident in college where I tried to give myself cleavage and to do so, I used duct tape, and when it eventually came off (ripped off) it was a real bad scene. Anyway, this is all to say, there was a time when the sound of my face getting waxed awakened some traumatic memory in my bones, and I could feel the tape ripping off all over again. (There is a WHOLE story about that, complete with what led me to the tape in the first place, why I felt my cleavage was insufficient, if it made a difference at all and if anyone ended up caring. Let me pitch this story to your publication! The personal essay we need right now! Or I’ll type it up and whisper it under this rock, aka, My Blog.)

But eyes up here. I was fully reintroduced to my facial hair when I took stock of all the zits that had broken out on the left side of my face. This was last week. They were mostly hidden by my grown-out bangs, but when looking closely, the zits were a deep red, blood immediately under the skin types, tiny molehills ready to burst into full-fledged mountain ranges. And from the temple they cascaded down, turning into big lonely pimple oasis,  sprouting arbitrarily from oily pockets in my cheek. And then finally, of course, the chin zit cluster, tiny dermal boulders arranged just so: craggy, rough to the touch, only ever on the verge of popping or having just popped. Why the break out? I don’t know, skin is weird, I guess. I suppose it was a perfect storm of periods, sleeping on my left side, and being right-handed, therefore, having my left hand available for face-resting and chin rubbing. I’m also extremely oily. I mean we’re talking, like, a lot of oil. This actually isn’t much of a mystery. The point is this: I was following the trail of acne when I stumbled into the brush.

And I looked at my face and kind of had that moment of Whoa! Hey, that’s my face! Which is a little insane sounding, but a valid reaction nonetheless. And I took note of the ever-darkening upper lip hair, yes, but I also saw how tired I looked, and wondered if it was just for the moment or a new normal. And I inspected the bump on my nose and I ran a finger over my weird pointy chin and then I smiled as big as I could to see the dimple on my right cheek. I checked each item off, one, two, three, all there as they have always been, but just a little different. And to be clear, this is not commentary or a reflection on beauty, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the features of one’s face and how one day you look in the mirror and things have changed. “Aging,” I think, is the official term for this, but I know better than to tackle that topic at age 28. But I do reflect on my own relationship with my face, the hours I’ve spent removing hair, rubbing the driest eyes, shellacking perpetually chapped lips; all the upkeep and the maintenance required to simply be comfortable. Imagine if I regularly wore makeup! I would be writing a different post, perhaps. But this is no complaint, merely a reflection on what it means to be a vain woman who also happens to have a host of physical insecurities. But who isn’t?

The zits are all gone, they’ve had their way with me this month, and the upper lip hair is here for now, until I bleach it and it’s invisible for a little while. And then I’ll grow my bangs out and cut my hair and start wearing under eye liner to look less tired and I’ll decide that bright lipstick is the best way to distract from zits and facial hair and it will all be okay because I will have made all these decisions on my own. And then I’ll find myself in the bathroom mirror again, staring at a woman I know and understand to be me, but also kind of asking Wait, but really? And then I’ll pull out my phone and see all the photos of lewd cake toppers I have saved, just because they’re funny and I want to imagine a wedding cake topped with the weirdest most hilarious items imaginable and then I will say Yes, really.