Aspiration. We all wish we looked better, lived better, and cooked better. I understand completely. Here’s the thing, though. We mustn’t take all of this desire to be our better selves too far. I call this “catalog living.”

A good example is above. It’s a lovely room. The catalog it comes from is either selling the curtains or the bedding; I am not sure. But notice that little basket on the daybed containing a coffee mug and probably a tiny plate of cookies? The stylist put it there to create a mood. It is there to make you aspire to have a room like that, where you can sip your coffee and look out that window at the man next door who looks like Idris Elba.

It is not there–let me repeat–it is not there to encourage you to go out and buy a little basket, put a coffee mug and some graham crackers in it, TO PUT ON YOUR OWN BED AND LEAVE IT THERE. You do NOT live in a catalog.

Flip through the latest Chicos catalog. See those women wearing shirts that are tucked in just in front? God knows why they are doing that, but my guess is so that some cute detail on the fly of the pants they are wearing will be visible. Or, my other theory–they are doing that because the models are so thin that front tucking looks “cute” when they are wearing those outfits. I tried the front tuck. It looked as if A) I had gotten distracted while getting dressed running to answer a robocall, and simply forgot to continue tucking, or B) I am a slob. It is not a good look on regular people. You do NOT live in a catalog.

Foodies. Williams Sonoma can get away with styling their food with scanty toppings. This is so you can see the plate that the food sits on. But in reality, when you are served strawberry shortcake, don’t you want more than a teaspoon of whipped cream on top? Or let’s talk pancakes. Actual people put more than one pat of butter and a small drip of syrup on their stacks. Because they do NOT live in a catalog.

I wish I could live in a catalog. If I did, I would be thinner, my bedding would change with every season, my Christmas tree would have ornaments that are all the same color, my husband would look good standing outside in his pajamas, holding a cup of coffee and smiling at passersby, and I would wear all of my shirts partially tucked. We would be so thin and fit, due to the fact that we never eat much butter, whipped cream, or other high calorie food toppings. My husband would wear the bottoms of his flannel pajamas, and I would wear the top. His top would actually be just a bit too big for me, and we would stand in front of the sink, holding our coffee cups, and smiling. I would be preparing pancakes with two teaspoons of syrup and no butter. We would be so happy.

But we do NOT live in a catalog.


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