Listen/Watch/Read Pip-Life

Joan Didion, Gossip Girl, Melting, Mademoiselle

Joan Didion


It’s so hot where I live – in Melbourne- right now. I mean to say, it’s not the hottest it gets, but there’s been a slew of days over 30 degrees and the heat is stopping people like me from doing the sorts of busy-making things we generally like to do…

Crochet, for instance, can only be attempted if the aircon is blasting wildly. Going for drives is an early morning pursuit because my old banger does not have air conditioning and tends to chug in the heat and threaten to break down. Being in the garden? Pretty much out. Moving around generally? Nope.

Even my computers can’t face the heat. My MacBook Pro overheated and now can’t find its hard drive. My little MacBook Air is making a noisy whirring sound too and freezes up after 15 minutes of use. Ugh. Dammit.

*Adds new/second-hand computer to ‘To Buy List’*

Still, there is just one more hot day before we get a spell of milder weather, so I am limping to the freaking-boiling-finish-line with a forced smile on my face. Roll on Monday.

One good thing about the hot weather, according to me, is that it forces you to slow down and do quiet things like reading and watching telly.

I have been reading a great but quite hefty book about Joan Didion and watching a lot of Gossip Girl and looking up articles about real life Gossip Girl types.

I had never watched Gossip Girl, up until now, but it is a rad sort of scheming, glam, upper-East-side-soap-opera-type show and I am loving the escape of it all.

Weirdly, there are parallels between Gossip Girl and the book I am reading about Joan. I know you might find that hard to believe, but I’ve just started reading the bit about when Joan Didion interned for Mademoiselle magazine and lived in the Barbizon Hotel (in New York).

If you’ve watched Gossip Girl, you will know that there is much spending time in NY hotels, and that rat-bag-rich-girl Blair Waldorf spent some time interning, and then working, for W Magazine on the show.

Joan Didion was a guest fiction editor (a kind of fancy intern) at Mademoiselle in 1955. While you might think that interning for Mademoiselle Magazine in the fifties would be a fairly girlish, lipstick-focused type of thing, actually it was very far from that, according to my book.

Not only did the interns aka guest editors have the opportunity to interview respected writers like Gore Vidal and TS Eliot, they were invited to visit the press room of The New York Times, go to fancy dances on the rooftop of the St Regis and tour the United Nations, amongst many other caviar, champagne and literary type things.

Basically, Joan Didion’s internship was better than Blair Waldorf’s, and a good 50 years or so earlier, too.

(Sylvia Plath also interned for Mademoiselle and spent time at the so-called ‘Doll’s House’, The Barbizon. And this is a great piece by Meg Wolitzer on the guest editors of Mademoiselle, in case I’ve piqued your interest!)

Apart from the Gossip Girl and the Joan D, I’ve been making a chicken curry (I know. I am nuts. It’s too hot!) from a Valli Little recipe. It has a bunch of fresh curry leaves thrown in there for good measure – along with some hefty hunks of potato and chopped tomatoes – and I can not tell you how much I love the smell of fresh curry leaves!


I met Valli at the Perth Writer’s Festival last year – thanks to Michelle – and she was lovely and clever and elegant and kind (in case you ever wondered about Valli!)

I’m really trying hard to read more this year, in case you have not noticed my many book posts on Instagram. So far I have finished the Jason Byrne book (ace!) and The Girls (good but depressing!) and Our Magic Hour (great, sad but hope-filled!) I am still reading Travels With My Aunt  (just a chapter every few days, and I am really enjoying it), as well as Joan. And I am about to start this book, which I am super looking forward to.

I am doing the Good Reads 2017 Reading Challenge and have set myself a goal of 26 books over the year. I know I can do it. I just have to CRAFT less and WATCH less.

I’m trying to buy all my books at Readings or at op shops/markets, because I am trying to be more conscious about where I spend my money. Readings have supported my work and stocked my books really consistently for the last 8 year or so – as well as that of many of my friends and faves. I appreciate their efforts so much and it has not gone unnoticed. They continually support local writers and have a smashing range of quality books. Shop there, if you can!

Apart from all that – I have been doing a bit of air-con-windswept crochet, but it’s tough going in the heat. I am joining the granny squares as I go which means pulling the growing blanket near to me as I work. It’s just not a lot of fun on a hot day, to be frank.

How about you? What are you doing? Is it hot where you are? Have you been watching or reading or making things? Are your computers broken too?!

PS: Don’t forget time is running out to sign up for my ace new eCourse!


  • Sarah
    January 24, 2017 at 11:33 AM

    I’m also trying to knit/make a bit less and read more. Currently in the midst of the first book in the Poldark series (it’s great), will probably follow it with H is for Hawk or Miss Peregrine, can’t decide. I’ve been getting lots of good reads from bookshops and Rotary book sales.

    • Meet Me At Mikes
      January 24, 2017 at 4:04 PM

      I’ve nearly finished my fourth book for the year, but my craft output is less impressive! Dang. x

  • Melissa Gaggiano
    January 13, 2017 at 12:55 PM

    I’m usually one of the last to get on any bandwagon. So much so that by the time I climb onto the wagon everyone else has already hopped off. Two years ago I read Gossip Girl #1, which got we wanting to watch the TV show. I finally started watching it in 2016 [thank you DVD collecting]. I love the show. It is glam, but I also see the morality lessons too, which I compare to Jane Austen stories. Only one more season to watch.

  • Cheryl
    January 10, 2017 at 5:51 AM

    I’d trade you a few degrees!! It was well below freezing for the past few days around here and with the wind–Whew! But a warm front is on the way and I’m spending the evening knitting with some friends. Thank you for your writing!!! (from Carol Stream, Illinois; about 30 miles west of Chicago)

    • Meet Me At Mikes
      January 11, 2017 at 6:36 PM

      Thank you SO MUCH for reading, Cheryl from Carol Stream! It’s so lovely to hear from you – and sorry to hear about your chilly bits!! xx pip

  • Isabel
    January 7, 2017 at 7:14 PM

    Hey Pip. So nice to read a post about the heat, which I am experiencing over in St Kilda. Decided to go for an afternoon walk as was getting stir-crazy, but retreated home in about 10 minutes – just too hot! My partner’s computer also overheated today so it ain’t just you. I love Joan Didion. Have you read A Year of Magical Thinking? I love it, and her. I’ve been watching Friday Night Lights, reading the Neopolitan series, and also some Virginia Woolf which for some reason I’d never read until now. Also went camping in Kosi NP for a week which was wonderful and it’s a little sad returning to the big smoke after lying by a river amidst the roos and wildflowers. Ah well, life goes on. Totally agree about Readings, I baked all my Chrissy presents but made an exception for a few books from Readings. We need good locally owned book shops, so must shop there and give them business, I say! Stay cool if you can Pip, and I’ll be looking forward to next week’s cool change right along with you x

    • Meet Me At Mikes
      January 7, 2017 at 7:27 PM

      Oh hello, fellow swelterer! I have read The Year Of Magical Thinking, yes! I really loved it… although v sad. Gosh, I wish the change would come…! x

  • Reannon
    January 7, 2017 at 6:10 PM

    We had a day of 41 followed by 46!!! That is volcano style heat!! But the day after it went down to 27 so we could all move again. Phew!!
    I’m crocheting a blanket too, I think it’s a spike granny stitch, but only at night & only while watching Nashville ( almost done season 4). I’m also about to tackle the clothes I want to alter. They’ve been sitting in spike for MONTHS but I am determined not to buy new clothes when I have nice clothes that can be changed around. I’m also reading lots. The library is my choice of place to get books these days but I couldn’t resist a quick op shop visit yesterday. I am always surprised at some of the books people throw out- I seen the new Hannah Kent for two bucks!!

    • Meet Me At Mikes
      January 7, 2017 at 7:28 PM

      46 totally SUCKS. UGH. That’s like Port Hedland weather. NO GOOD!!

    previous post
    Oh hello! Do you want me to tell you a…