on buying glasses online

I've been looking to buy new glasses for several months, now. The ones I had were so old they were missing about 70% of the anti-reflective coating on the lenses, and small enough that I couldn't wear them outside because they didn't block enough light (and I didn't wear them often enough to bother getting prescription sunglasses). I wanted plastic frames this time, skewing more bookish-librarian or nerdy-girl-prior-to-prom-queen-transformation than hipster irony.

So I begin poking around. My optometrist had fuck all; Costco had some that were tolerable, but none that I'd actually enjoy wearing. (The enjoyability factor is important: I spent half my childhood hating how I looked in glasses, and therefore have sacrificed my eye health for looks ever since I got contacts.) Enter Warby Parker - via facebook ad, I believe - with sexy models and reasonable, all-inclusive prices, and a try five at home for free program.

I should preface this with the fact that I seem to have a hard-to-fit face for glasses. I'm of medium width measurement-wise, but I have a wide jaw and round cheeks, so what fits physically on my face often ends up looking too small visually. I also have a huge pet peeve about frames touching my cheeks, even if it's just when I smile. It takes trying on about a hundred pairs of sunglasses before I find ones I can stand; prescription glasses seem to be more on the order of two or three hundred. I should also mention that the last pair I had fitted (a decade ago, now) involved me having a melt-down in Costco about how unsymmetrical my face is. The poor woman who helped me clearly still remembers and is especially nice whenever I come through her check out line.

But I use the "virtual try on" feature on Warby Parker, order five for my try on, and get them sent to me. I am excited. When they arrive, I tear them open, am impressed by the quality, and completely unimpressed with how any of them look on me. Glasses, it turns out, look very different in a photograph online - or superimposed over your photograph online - than they do in person. I play around with them awhile anyway, and drop them back in the mail five days later.

Warby Parker also sends a barrage of friendly emails when you do a try on, encouraging you to post pictures on social media to get feedback, or to email them directly for advice. Nonplussed with my own selections, I send in photos of myself in the try on pairs by email (it's hard to take photos of yourself in glasses, I find), and get fairly helpful feedback that informs my next try on batch. When they come, they are better, but still nothing golden; mostly, still a touch too narrow for my face visually.

I give up awhile, and then start poking around on Rivet and Sway instead. Their styles are slightly more expensive and geared entirely for women, and they have a handy little survey to direct you toward frames you might like. I pay more attention to the measurement numbers this time, and end up with a batch of glasses that all almost-work, with one pair being the standout. I order, overjoyed.

And when they arrive, they come in a very nice case with a beautiful, watercolor print cleaning cloth, but they fit absolutely nothing like the try on pair - they lean heavily on my cheeks and seem oddly angled downward. I email customer service, and they respond quickly and sympathetically, and promise to send a replacement pair. The second pair arrives, and it is (I swear) exactly the same pair as the original, except that they'd bent the arms up at the hinges violently, so that they are loose from the frames (like glasses get if someone sits on them) and incredibly crooked on my face. When I write a complaining email, requesting the no-questions-asked refund and pointing out that they said they'd *replace* the frames, the woman insists that they were replaced, but that all the frames had that inward tilt so their technician bent up the handles of the *new* pair of frames. Sigh. (Note for customer service people: better to tell the truth than lies that make no sense.)

Here's a shot of the "replacement" pair:

Back to the drawing board.

Meanwhile, I've taken so long with this process that Warby Parker has come out with a new season of frames, and armed with my newfound expertise, I pick out another five styles. I find another clear winner when the try ons arrive: the Dale, in Whiskey Tortoise. I order them, slightly apprehensive, and hold on to the trial pairs until the prescription one comes, just in case they suffered the same problem (a three day weekend makes this possible, although I was still impressed by how quickly they shipped). They arrived, and fit exactly the same as the trial pair. Success! The hard case isn't as nice as Rivet and Sway's, and they only have a plain fabric case instead of a cleaning cloth, but the glasses themselves are much better quality (and were $50 cheaper).

I also discovered that my optometrist's office was willing to fit them on me for free (which was good, as I didn't want to trust myself to bend them).

I would absolutely recommend Warby Parker, though I would say ignore the virtual try on feature and start by emailing them for help, with pictures of you in your current frames for reference. I also had a friend that suffered from Bell's Palsy and had to buy glasses last minute, and she raved about how helpful and swift they were as well. They also donate a pair to someone needy for every pair purchased, so you get feel-good bonus points for buying from them.

Also: if you don't know what measurement numbers your current frames are, try some on in person somewhere. When you order your try ons, select frames that are a similar size. Glasses come with three measurement numbers (in order): the width of the lenses, the width of the bridge, and the length of the arms. Arms are less important (since they can be bent), but make sure the total of the lens + the bridge measurement is within a digit or two of your current pair. Don't bother with anything that isn't the right measurement, no matter how cute they are - you'll just end up sad that they don't fit.

And here's a selfie of a (finally) satisfied customer:


things i like, vol. 45

Babies, animals, lots of magic.

. . .

Carved out of wood.
. . .

How to make things koselig
According to my experience in Norway, a koselig evening involves candles, good music and as least awkward silences as possible (Norwegians are very sensitive to awkward silences, more than any people I’ve lived with). Warm colors around you, a fire in the chimney, good food on the table, wine and people you like and feel comfortable with. Chatting away the evening and the night with a little drunkness and inner warmth.
. . . 

Nude dancers.

. . .

St. Barth's.

. . .


. . . 

In case you need to know what time it is in other parts of the world, as I often do and am hopeless at.

 . . . 

Perfectly placed.

. . .

A secret. I feel it, too.

. . .


what the living do

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

- Marie Howe


i am a visitor here, i am not permanent

My good friend Sean passed away two weeks ago.

I got the news - via facebook message - while I was helping two of my friends practice for their first dance at their wedding the following day. I cried after they left and tried hard not to think about it. And except for it creeping up on me when I least expected it a few times in the last week, I've done a pretty good job not thinking about it. Which meant that I had not prepared myself for his memorial service today as well as I might have liked.

What was so nice about the service was how much emphasis was placed on Seany's music, and how much he loved it and loved sharing it. The gigs and gigs of music I have saved on my hard drive are due, almost entirely, to him. We didn't have exactly the same taste, but had much in common; he was responsible for a huge amount of my development as a music listener, and he grew to know my taste better than anyone. He would nearly pounce on me as soon as he'd found a new album he thought I'd love, and he was always right.

Sean was always, always a good friend. He was always ready to listen whenever anyone needed it. He was a genuinely open and caring guy.

We'd drifted apart the last few years - both busy with our jobs, I think, and not spending as much time chatting online (as we did all through college). I'd been meaning to text him for at least two weeks before he died, and was just too distracted to follow through. We'd planned to hang out when I was on spring break, and he was dead before that happened.

At least he went while he was with friends. At least it was just as simple as falling asleep listening to Coldplay, one of his very favorite bands.

I went back through emails we'd exchanged, and found a paper he'd written for a music course and sent me back in 2006: a list of his favorite albums of the moment - some of which are still my favorite albums, and ones I most associate with him, because he shared them with me - and an accompanying short analysis and his favorite bits. I thought, in the spirit of his musical generosity, that I'd share his list with you; especially if there are ones you are unfamiliar with, I'd strongly recommend you listen and lose yourself in some music for awhile.

I love you lots, Seany. I miss you terribly, and I'm so sad we didn't hang out more the last few years.


on weddings

We're getting married, and I'm super excited.

We've already arranged how it's going to happen - we're running off to Jamaica this summer, just the two of us, and getting married on a beach as close to sunset as we're legally allowed, and combining that with the honeymoon itself. And we'll have some sort of party when we come back to celebrate. I have my dress - from here - and pretty much the only thing we have left to do is buy the plane tickets.

What weirds me out about the whole process is all the strange social constructs people have built up around weddings. We've inadvertently broken the mold - we're getting married entirely, proudly by ourselves, but we're telling everyone about it first. Apparently no one does this. Even on the "alternative wedding" websites, the most subversive thing you can do is elope. (What we're doing doesn't count as an elopement, since it's not at all secret.)

But there's very little about a "traditional" wedding that appeals to me. For one, we've never been ones to stick to tradition - we've been living and raising a child together for years, now - but most wedding traditions seem particularly ludicrous to me, especially as so many of them are fed by centuries-old religion or misogyny (or, often, religious misogyny). No one really requires seeing bloody sheets any more - at least not in mainstream America - but how far off is the garter removal, really?

And then there's the entire economy built around wedding planning - huge, overpriced, overblown, insane trappings that are different only in the minutiae that harried brides spend months obsessing about. Why do we get favors like we're attending a kid's birthday party? Why are there only round tables and two kinds of chairs used at receptions? Why do people pay $75 a plate when you can buy better entrees at Chili's for $15? Why in the world is every wedding dress for the past ten years strapless with a big skirt (and often thousands of dollars despite being made of polyester)? Just to be clear, I'm not judging people who have or enjoy these things - I'm judging our society for demanding that they are necessary.

I'm fully convinced that most people have a very, very hard time enjoying their weddings, and definitely don't enjoy the months leading up to them. I've watched enough of my friends go through the process to know how exhausting and unrewarding it can be.

Instead, I spent a week and a half figuring out my dress, what hotel we'd stay at, and what wedding planner we'd pay to take care of the entire thing (photography included), and now I'm done. When we get back, I get to throw together a party without any pressure at all (since it's not tied to the wedding itself, there's no need for everything to be any more perfect or stressful than our usual fĂȘtes).

And no, we're not having a sit-down reception. The details are sketchy as of yet, but it'll probably be in the vineyard, and there will be good wine and twinkle lights and hopefully a bonfire, and my biggest goal is to get everyone to have a good time, not just a good time for a wedding.

Until then, I get to dream of beaches and happiness.